Jessica M. MartinezProfessor WeidingerArt Appreciation18 January 2018Girl Before a Mirror & Mme Riviere: A Comparison Pablo Picasso, Girl before a Mirror, 1932, oil on canvas and Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, Mme Riviere, 1805, oil on canvas create quite the contrasting image when viewed side by side. The aforementioned works of art were brought to life by two very different men, Jean-Auguste who was a french neoclassical painter and Picasso who may be considered a jack of all trades but is well known for his part in founding the cubist movement. This paper will be comparing the different works in terms of color, line usage, and texture. Picasso and Ingres use color in very different ways.
Picasso’s use of color makes his work impossible not to look at, it is not only eye catching but a tactful way to contrast the woman looking in and the one looking out. On the left of Girl before a mirror we have complementary warm colors, yellow, orange, and red. Giving half of the girls face the illusion of daylight, this is the woman she presents herself as. Opposite of her is the reflection, perhaps her true self or who she sees herself to be. She is also depicted in complimentary colors but this time they are cooler. Giving the illusion of a darker woman than the figure facing the mirror. This woman appears more drawn and perhaps even a bit sad.
Green has always been seen as the color of envy but it can also allude to energy and life. The green that wraps around the woman’s body which seems to be a tad rounded could mean pregnancy. In comparison Mme Riviere seems a bit mute, I wondered if Ingres relied on the negative space in his work to help draw attention to the woman in the painting. The contrast between the blue of the couch and the white/beige of her outfit also helps her become more eye catching to the viewer. The blue also made me think of ‘blue blood’ whether this was intentional or not is unknown.
It made me think that this woman was not just married into wealth but born into it. She is comfortable in her setting, there is none of the self doubt one sees in Girl before the mirror. The colors in the work help accentuate the differences displayed in both women. The color scheme of Girl before a mirror made me think of chaos and turmoil. The different colors seemed very symbolic giving one the impression that the woman in the painting is at odds with who she is and what she sees. While the colors in Mme Riviere gave me no real indication of what the woman might be thinking but did give me the clear image of a wealthy woman.
The colors made me think of luxury , wealth, and comfortability. The colors in both pieces of art differ dramatically but I think the line work might be considered the pièce de résistance. The line work portrayed in Mme Riviere is rather simple from start to finish in comparison to Picasso’s.
Mme Riviere has no real outline and has beautifully blended brushstrokes. There is a vertical line from her eye to her hand and then another going from one hand to the other. In a way, the color in this painting helps the linework. As your eye leads you from one place to the other, the colors sort of leads you a bit further creating this lovely harmony between the two.
Picasso’s line work is abundant in Girl before a mirror, his outline in the image is thick leaving no doubt as to where one image begins and the next ends. The creation of a grid composed of diamonds in the background helps the woman who is mostly made of ovals and circles stand out. A vertical line is created by the leg of the mirror she faces showing the almost symmetrical balance of the painting. One thing I really enjoy about this particular piece is that some of the thinnest lines lay in between the woman and her reflection.
As if to show that they are one in the same. Picasso may have had the upper hand in terms of color and lines but texture is where Ingres shines. Ingres incorporated a plethora of textures into Mme Riviere. The couch she lounges on is clearly lined in a rich blue velvet. The tassels on the pillow look to be comprised of little strings rather than velvet. Her hair is beautifully curled around her face and seemingly pinned. The way her shawl drapes around her in folds, wrinkled in all the right places, even the small tassels at the end of the shawl appear curled and I imagine them to be a bit coarse to the touch. The veil pinned to her hair lays on the top of the sofa, as if he wanted to draw attention his talent in depicting texture.
The wood to the sofa looks smooth and finished, the decoration on it do not look carved but painted. Even her necklace seems to be not just a single piece of jewelry but woven; you can even see the embellishment around what appears to be an emerald on the hand that lays in her lap. In comparison, Picasso’s use of texture is both limited and very different from the way Ingres incorporated it into his own artwork. I found texture in the grid Picasso painted behind the woman, in the lines running across her body, and even some movement within the circles that comprise her.
His use of texture makes the art difficult to look at as a whole piece. I think this may be why the women was made to appear so close to the viewer. If she had been painted further into the background she would have been lost in it and Picasso may have lost that symmetrical balance it carries Picasso and Ingres used the same techniques to create very different pieces of art. Picasso used color to draw attention and convey a story. Ingres used color to display the wealth and comfortability that Mme Riviere lived in.
Picasso used lines to create multiple perspectives to his artwork. He also used them to show the symmetry and balance in it. While Ingres used it to simply lead the eye from point a to point b. In terms of texture, Picasso created some but it seemed to lack the same impressive quality that Ingres achieved. Ingres visual texture was painted with so much detail it could almost be considered tactile. As I looked at the tassel on the pillow I could feel the thin fibers that make it up running through my hand; reminding me of the days I spent on the couch of my Tia’s house during summer break.
Just as I looked at Picasso’s art and felt my own uncertainty about who I am and who I am perceived to be. The times that facing myself left me contemplating my life’s decisions. They’re both incredibly impressive in their own right and I am humbled by these images which clearly depict people who have a great passion for what they do.