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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Best paintings I've Ever Seen: Antonio Mancini

I didn't know Mancini's name before seeing this painting, but later realized it was the same guy that painted another of my favorite pieces "resting" at the Chicago Institute (my post about the Chicago Institue).  The reproductions available online are miserable, but this is one of the most arresting objects I've ever encountered.  It commands the room it hangs in at the Philadelphia Art Museum, and I think I gasped when I first saw it.  Its monumentality is startling and the longer you look it doesn't let you go.  

The candy cane- striped pole by his foot almost looks out of place, like something you've never seen in an old painting.  The delicate handling of the wallpaper patterns couldn't be more differently handled than the chunky, globby hair mass.  Even the pupils of the eyes are convex blobs of paint that catch actual highlights on them.

I think one of the worst contributions of French impressionism and modernism to painting is the overuse and strict copy of color.  Imagine this painting with a saturated palette of bright colors, it would kill the melancholy.  The only pure colors are a few red notes in the still life.  To me the saddest statement in the painting is the scraggly peacock feather, pitifully drooping from under his arm.

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