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Silvestro Lega - La Curiosa (1866)

Rémy Cogghe - Madame Recoit (1908)

Now here's a suspicious pair. For today's I've selected two works which show their subjects engaged in some degree of eavesdropping.

Italian painter Silvestro Lega's 'La Curiosa' depicts a woman peeking through the window blinds, spying a daytime scene from a comfortable, dim interior. Whatever is holding her attention, it’s obviously not occurring in private, given it appears to take place outside, however, for reasons unknown to us, she has chosen to observe from this concealed vantage point. This affords a certain mystery regarding our subject and what might be transpiring in her life; she might be spying the betrayal by a close friend or lover, a drama brazenly unfolding in the open where everyone can see, or perhaps she’s witnessing a crime or conspicuous exchange between two dubious parties.

Or maybe she’s simply a nosy neighbor. We can’t have too many of those.

I really enjoy the use of light and color throughout 'La Curiosa'. The murky green of the window shades and the dark brown of the panels and floor create a very subdued palette, allowing our eavesdropper to stand out in he natural light coming through the window,

Moving on to our next painting, 'Madame Recoit' by Belgian-French painter Rémy Cogghe shows two subjects, a male and female servant, peeking through a keyhole to spy on someone behind the door, presumably the Madame Recoit from which this work takes its namesake. I would assume Madame is their employer, or at least the employer's wife, however I’m intrigued at the top hat and cane which rests on the chair outside the door. The specificity of the title leads me to consider that these items belong to someone other than Monsieur Recoit, if you know what I mean. Perhaps that's part of the reason these two servants seem so amused by the scene behind the door.

Observing these two works together, 'Madame Recoit' depicts a more outright act of voyeurism, but however naughty this act might seem, the work has a humorous quality which takes off the edge. 'La Curiosa,' on the other hand, carries a more serious, dramatic weight, and as mentioned earlier, the object of this woman's curiosity is left completely ambiguous, leaving us only to wonder.

Date: 2016-12-04 01:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
in the first painting, i'm wondering about the black apron. The girl in the painting is wearing a simple dress, maybe she is a maid? She is not in mourning herself, she is not wearing a mourning dress but she is wearing that black apron ... maybe her employer is in mourning and that is why the shutters are closed. I get a sense of longing from her, like she'd rather be outside than inside in the gloomy house looking out, she might be curious about what is going on outside.

Date: 2016-12-04 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's an excellent point about the black apron, which I didn't spot. I agree with your observations. This painting is really ambiguous, and in this case I usually look at the artist's other works for clues of reoccurring theme which might help narrow down their perspective, such as would the artist be likely to paint a subject in mourning. I'll have to explore Lega's work further. He was apparently a member of an Italian arts group called the Macchiaioli, who were inspired by the output of the French Barbizon school, and their work rejected that of the then-popular academic style.

Date: 2016-12-04 05:16 pm (UTC)
ext_698091: (Default)
From: [identity profile]

Great theme! 

Date: 2016-12-04 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! I thought these two worked together as a pair. There were some of voyeur/spying pieces I'd earmarked for this entry, but the subject matter diverged into completely different territories.

That said, I'd nice to eventually dedicate an entry to all the works which I've stored away or edited out.

Date: 2016-12-05 12:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
To me, the first painting suggests a woman waiting for something or someone, or hiding, maybe. It almost reminds me of myself skulking about the house, peeking out of windows, when I'm home alone and think the JWs are the ones ringing my doorbell, or when I think I heard the UPS truck finally coming down my street. The second one, though...those two are just nosy!

Date: 2016-12-05 12:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Valid points. She might be waiting for someone, though the total leads me to think she's prying into someone else's business, but I guess all of this is open to interpretation.

And waiting for UPS delivery is the worst, especally when tracking indicates your expected package was left at the front door and it's not there.
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