Thursday, 11 August 2011

My visit to 'Le Musee des beaux-arts' in Carcassonne

The temporary gallery on the bottom floor was full of abstract expressionist paintings, mostly from the late fifties. I noted down the names of the few that appealed to me, but most of them I found ugly/pretentious/tacky.
The upstairs gallery featured the classical art collections from the 18th/19th century. I was lucky to spot one by Henri Lehmann, 'The Fisher and the Nymph' (1837), which conveyed the same theme as Waterhouse's 'Hylas and the Nymphs'.
It was interesting to note the differences in the character of the Nymph in Lehmann's painting and the ones in Waterhouse's.
Here are some observations I made at the time:
The Nymph is more pro-actively luring the fisherman, grabbing his fishing rod (suggestion of euphemistic visual metaphor) and exposing her full body out of the water. Her arms stretch out, gesturally, like a dance as one arm stretches up for the fishing rod and the other reaches out toward the fisherman's face. He leans his head onto his shoulder, gazing sleepily at the Nymph, captivated. Hypnotised. Strong chiaroscuro lights up the figures against the dark water and surrounding landscape. Sunset? Why is he fishing naked? The Nymph looks more glamorous than Waterhouse's Nymphs- her hair is curled and glossy-less pure and natural looking-staged and stylised.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find an image of the painting on the internet, and photographs weren't allowed in the gallery.

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