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Joseph Caraud - An Interrupted Visit (1867)





Eduardo Zamacois y Zabala - La Visita Inoportuna (1868)



Pardon my intrusion, but for today’s December Double I would like to share ‘An Interrupted Visit’ by French painter Joseph Caraud and ‘La Visita Inoportuna’ by Spanish painter Eduardo Zamacois y Zabala. Oh, what the hell.

I am left to ponder the scene unfolding in an 'Interrupted Visit,' but nonetheless my interpretation is as follows: The man has boldly intruded on the woman in the green dress, and her servant, is looking out on her behalf, is warding off someone from entering the room. The man, greeting her with a kiss on the hand, could either be the woman's secret lover or an unwanted admirer. Whatever the case, observing her terrified expression, the woman's attention is fixated on whoever might be behind that other door, fearing what might unfold if the man is discovered with her in this room. We can only guess. The chair collapsed on the floor indicates that she has indeed been taken by surprise.

I did consider the man might also be kissing her hand goodbye, but I believe it more likely that he is the interrupting visitor for whom the title implies, rather than someone else off canvas. It could be either though, and I find myself going back and forth between these two theories.

For me the most powerful feature of this painting is not the man’s kiss but rather the servants gesture toward the young woman, urging her to stand back.

In contrast to the heavy drama in Caraud’s piece, ‘La Visita Inoportuna’ depicts a more subtle, nuanced scene. In this work a painter is taking a question at the door while his female subject conceals her nudity from the unexpected guest. In this piece she is definitely the center of attention, with her pale body standing out against the green privacy panel, however her face is turned away from us, leaving her identity is a mystery. This provides a neat, candid view the painter's studio in all of its wonderful disarray without urging us to identify with the model on any personal level, which for the artist’s purposes might’ve proved distracting. Who knows. We are granted a view of her shoes, a pair of red heels seen resting together on the platform, though they might simply be just a prop for the painting. Either way, they're a nice touch.

At any rate, ‘An Interrupted Visit’ is carefully orchestrated with a involving narrative, while ‘La Visita Inoportuna’ feels more incidental, perhaps having been taken from observation. Between these two works, I prefer the latter.
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