We don’t always find ourselves in favorable company. This is epitomized in German painter Berthold Woltze’s ‘The Irritating Gentleman,’ a scene which we’ve all probably witnessed on transit if not numerous other public settings. While the title of this painting directly references the man, the vantage point encourages us to identify with the plight of the young woman, his unfortunate captive audience, as she stares outward to the viewer. Either by social status or out of courtesy, it would seem she were obligated to endure his unwanted attention, and he seems fully aware of her disadvantage, perhaps even playing it up as he casually occupies her personal space. I’ll admit, the tear is maybe a bit much, but damn if it doesn’t communicate her dissatisfaction. Perhaps her sadness is not central to her undesirable company. She could’ve just experienced a loss of a loved one and it unable to effectively handle the “gentleman.” Whatever the case, he most certainly isn’t making matters any easier for her. ‘The Irritating Gentleman’ is a good reminder that sometimes friendly conversation should be exercised with consideration.
That aside, I really enjoy the details throughout the coach, especially the tiny upper storage compartments, slide windows, and the wooden paneling. I’m also drawn to the woman’s leather gloves, the rose decoration on her luggage, and the blue-green coat resting over the seat.
The use of light sources in ‘Gentleman’ is really intriguing. The back window, flooded with sunlight, is used to draw attention to the man as he leers down. I also notice that the young woman is casting a shadow upward—almost in a triangular shape, allowing the light from her passenger window to more dramatically highlight her face. She really does seem unhappy. Hopefully she'll reach her destination soon.
Details behind the cut.
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