L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Le Contrat de mariage, ou L'Attente nerveuse, by Jean-Baptiste-André Gautier-Dagoty, circa 1770

"The Marriage Contract, or The Nervous Wait" is a fairly rare genre subject by Gautier-Dagoty. He is really only remembered for his doll-like portraits of Marie Antoinette and certain other ladies at the French court. (I recently blogged about the Queen's state portrait by Gautier-Dagoty, and his paintings of her two Savoyard sisters-in-law.) He was a second-rate artist - at best - and some of his weaknesses as an artist are evident here. Most obvious is the incorrect perspective of the lovely, neoclassical pavilion; certainly meant to be square in format, the artist's drafting of it actually describes a rhombus instead.

This miscalculation only accentuates the stage-setting-like composition; the whole thing is very like a depiction of a play: The older couple, seated comfortably, deep in negotiations. The graceful young woman at the window, trying to hear what her elders are saying, listening as her fate is determined. While a young man - prospective groom or soon-to-be-extraneous lover? - waits in the shadows. All of this scene lit by the pavilion's warm candle glow and the cool wash of moonlight. It's all real and unreal at the same time, just like in the theater. And, then, isn't it charming?

In the background, at the foot of a flight of stairs, waits a carriage. Does the statue on the balustrade portray Venus, the goddess of love...?
The clock is covered in a sheer cloth - I don't know what that might or might not signify.
The overturned planter - the sort used for ornamental shrubs or small trees, often lemon or orange - is an interesting detail.

1 comment:

  1. I think the naive-ness adds to the charm. Really love this and as you say, appears as a play set.