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.