Today I would like to share ‘The Amulet’ by French painter Auguste Emile Pinchart. Seen in what I presume to be her home, we have a young woman delicately fastening a piece of jewelry around her right arm. We can assume that this is a cherished possession, perhaps a souvenir from a special place that has long since gone, or maybe this amulet has a more traditional role--providing protection against danger and disease. This worldly accessory might even function be her sole accompaniment through a difficult life. Whatever the case, I can identify with the loving care she pays to this personal belonging.
This is such a quiet, personal scene that the viewer might feel as if they were intruding, however, despite this work’s voyeuristic quality our subject retains a certain dignity. Last year I wrote about Giuseppe Maria Crespi’s ‘The Flea,’ a similar work which contrasts with ‘Amulet’ by depicting a less then glamorous activity in a squalid setting
It goes without saying that Pinchart’s subject is shown in a more favorable manner, or at least she isn’t seen tending to personal hygiene.
Subject matter aside, I really like the details throughout this scene. The angel statue, fox fur on the floor, and the decorations on the fabric draping down from the ledge all create a unique, if not somewhat cluttered, environment for our subject. On a technical level I notice that the orange of the fur compliments the plant pot on the ledge, same as the angel’s head and wings harmonize with the decorative elements of the chair. The light gray of the stone wall gives the piece of soothing effect, though the scene as a whole feels anything but luxurious.
What really completes this painting for me is the very natural way she twists back her arm to apply the amulet, with the back of her hand resting upon her knee. It’s a really nice detail which a lesser artist might not have achieved.
Detail shots behind the cut.
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