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Wilhelm Amberg - The Maid (1862)





Gyzis Nikolaos - Pastry Man (1898)



Today's December Double is a nod to the ill-starred hired help. 'The Maid' by German painter Wilhelm Amberg and 'Pastry Man' by Greek painter Gyzis Nikolaos both depict service staff in a less than admirable light. In the former it appears our maid is helping herself to a beverage, probably unbeknownst to her employer, while the latter shows a waiter who has apparently mishandled a couple bottles of wine, for which he'll probably be reprimanded. I must admit, these both strike me as curious subjects to dedicate to canvas, and I ponder the artists' intentions for these works and the audiences they had in mind. Do these painting simply reinforce a viewpoint of service staff as being either untrustworthy or incompetent, or were they meant for us to sympathize with their subjects, encouraging the viewer to reflect on their hardships? Who knows.

That said, while the expression of our poor fellow in the Nikolaos painting is absolutely priceless, if I had to choose between these two works I would have to pick Amberg's 'Maid'. I really enjoy the painterly quality throughout this piece, and the floor tiles have a marvelous depth of field, adding dimension to the work as crisply detailed element recede into soft focus. Observing the cabinet, stairway, and floor tiles, Amberg's perspective is precise and mathematical, demonstrating a realistic sense of space and an orderly framework within which our subject should feel obliged to help herself to another round.

Date: 2016-12-05 10:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] motodraconis.livejournal.com
The maid isn't so bad - she's just disposing of the left over dregs in the bottom of the glasses. Waste not want not.

I was under the impression that unwanted left-overs were legitimate spoils for servants, from the last slice of pie that won't keep to Missus' dress she no longer wants (often gifted to the maid.)

Seems legit! So long as she doesn't get too tipsy. :D

Date: 2016-12-05 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] againstathorn.livejournal.com
Good point! Yes, she's probably helping herself to leftovers, and it's more than likely that her employer has no issue with this as long as she doesn't topple over. Drink up!

Date: 2016-12-05 03:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jola.livejournal.com
lol, that's what i thought, waste not want not!

Date: 2016-12-05 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daphnep.livejournal.com
I think there's some voyeurism to the maid, as well--the fantasy the artist or painting's commissioner/owner might have of his own staff, of lusty kitchen wenches having their own stolen pleasures. It's a rich man's fantasy. And I like it.

Date: 2016-12-05 03:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jola.livejournal.com
right? a lot of snowy chest/throat is exposed in that pose, it's kind of saucy in a classical sort of way!

Date: 2016-12-06 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] againstathorn.livejournal.com
Good call. Love it!

Date: 2016-12-06 11:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] againstathorn.livejournal.com
Good point. It's actually kind of endearing, in a naughty sort of way. ;)

Date: 2016-12-06 09:28 am (UTC)
nanila: me (me: ooh!)
From: [personal profile] nanila
I love that first one. I can imagine her lowering the glass and saying, "Ahhhh", in a happily satisfied manner.

Date: 2016-12-06 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] againstathorn.livejournal.com
Indeed. She's definitely appreciating all that's left in that glass!
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