The last Friday of February is now upon us. Good gracious! Where has the month gone?! This is the last of the Articulate the Art/Discuss the Dress at this time. Given the statistics, it appears the most intriguing red dressed lady was the original. The vibrancy and detail were rather exquisite.
The last lady in our showcase remains unnamed. She was painted by Alfred Hamacher in 1905. Oil on canvas. Sold at Sotheby’s in 2007.
My perspective: The execution of this piece is by far softer than anything we have witnessed previously. Perhaps it is the fashion, hair, and/or beauty but this lady; I am henceforth referring to as Flora, seems the most relatable of all the subjects from this month’s feature. Softness in portraiture is always equated with Romanticism. Softness or blurring lends a wistful quality to the work and suggest it is concealing some flaws. The audience will never know how accurate the portrait is without the true likeness available for analyzation.
The flowers on her millinery gives the impression of synthetic quality, which I am not keen on. Flora’s fetching frock (Ha! Say that three times fast!) looks right at home on the earlier episodes Downton Abbey. Though, the enormous button seems to draw some attention away from her face. The collar portion of the bodice and the layered . . . ruffle? I am unsure what to call this type of sleeve; it seems very pretty and not garishly feminine. I would wear this dress sans the conspicuous buttons. –I am intrigued by her pendant and wish the painting was in high detail so I may have a better look. While I appreciate the harmony of the gold embroidery on her dress and the gilded wainscoting on the lower half of the picture, I do wish the background color was . . . different. I do not wish it to be darker, which was my annoyance with some of the other pieces, but the grey is so . . . uninteresting. I understand by placing the figure in front of a solid neutral background, Flora becomes the main focal point without any competing distractions, however, I find it boring. To Hamacher’s credit it does offset Flora’s lush brown locks. The bouquet adds interest, certainly. Yet, is it needed in the composition? Could she be holding something else, like a bejeweled clutch purse? Perhaps the flowers have some significance to Flora? Only the subject and the artist know for sure.