Alzofon Art Institute

Museum Notes

Bouguereau at the Haggin in Stockton, California

Haggin, Stockton

Transcript from notebook
"All parts of background (except grassy spot surrounding reclining foreground figure) darker than shade on figures, but hair darker and redder than background.

"For beams of light, there is a hazy shift lighter, and slight bit more emphasis on green -- Most of background is value 9, (+) or (- ) 1.

"Figures have hairline-thin line (made by omission) around them -- sometimes red brown, sometimes raw umber + white -- even in lights (huh? Lights?).

"Paint application -- wet, thin taps and slurried veils on figure. Lights in most lit figure: value 1 - 2; low light on same figure, 3."


How the heck did he get that
delicate beam of light into the paint?

This painting has a unique and mysterious effect. The backdrop grotto is extremely dark, not black, but brownish. There are three delicate beams of light, seeming to illuminate a lightly dusted atmosphere in a dark setting. For all the world, it looks like the light is coming from the room, not the painting.

Bouguereau used a trick whereby he suppressed the greens unless a beam happened to pass before the plants behind -- plants not struck by beam itself, but in the deep dark background. Generally, only where a beam crossed, would he add green. The value, including the greens, in the beam zone is only a half step lighter than the non-beam zones of the backdrop.

Below is a diagram of this subtle effect:

What do you think? does it look like a delicate, dusty beam of light?

More Notes:
Early Titian

Michelangelo Sculpture

First Day in Rome,
or...Travel Is a Painful Ordeal


Leonardo da Vinci

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This page created: October 22, 1996