Sunday, July 8, 2007

Giuseppe De Nittis: Madchen am Strand

This painting employs an unusual angle to show its model. The lady is shown striding carefully towards the sea line, helping herself with an umbrella. Her face is intent, focused on the task at hand. The scene evokes endearment: the girl appears almost helpless; it is as if she would rather be supported by a man rather than by her umbrella. The cloudy sky serves to support the sensation of uncertainty and instability.

While on the one hand, I cannot help but root for the comely model, there is something modern in me that revolts against such demonstration of weakness. We are used to paparazzi photographs of our favorite models showing their skin unabashedly. These developments reflect empowerment and abandonment of the image of a "weak and pretty" sex. Pretty - yes; but not weak, by all means.

So while this painting boasts and impeccable composition (the lady forms a classic elongated triangle right in the middle of the canvas), to my view, it holds an historical value first and foremost. This painting could serve as a fine illustration to a book by George Sand, where women, though strong, still, more often than not, are victims - of their environment, of men and of contemporary society.

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