silent conversations

Highlighting oil paintings from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, this collection of portraits portray their subjects in expressionless manners, using mostly analogous, earth-tone themed palettes.  Although the subjects seem to remain silent, each portrait's face is a story that tells its own unique tale, sometimes through details as bold as the piercing gaze of the eyes, or as subtle as the softly weathered, wrinkled skin. 

This portrait depicts a profiled pose of an expressionless man advanced in age, with a full head of short, white, parted hair, and a long white beard. He is wearing a brown jacket, which sets his body slightly in the foreground against the darker brown in the background. The seriousness conveyed in his stern, wrinkled face is reinforced by the earth toned palette the artist uses.
This portrait shows a bearded, middle-aged man having a smoke and a drink. Relaxed in a seat at a table, he dons a dark gray suit and black overcoat. The smoke seems to gently rise from his pipe, as he stares directly at the viewer with a blank expression. The black background reinforces the analogous color scheme, which gives the painting a cool, relaxed confident feel. This is also supported by the subject's posture.
This portrait presents to the viewer a young adult African-American woman, wearing short hair and a beaded necklace. Balancing the portrait with symmetry is a green ribbon which floats over the subject's head, with indecipherable text written on it. The colors used are dark, saturated earth tones, and they come across almost muddy, with an orange tint.
This portrait is of artist Antoine Vollon. Slightly turned to the side, as he looks over one shoulder toward the observer, Antoine exudes confidence and boldness. The artist's use of soft, yellow hues to highlight the painting, in contrast to the deep browns which provide shadows, serve to lend a sense of harmony to the painting's theme. The majority of the painting is done in short, rough brush strokes, which are also confident and spirited.
This portrait of Qiying by Lamqua showcases a great use of colors to pull focus towards the subject. Qiying wears dark brown traditional clothing, and is set against a dark gray cloudy sky. The gray sky is still extremely illuminated when presented in contrast to his wardrobe, but not as illuminated as his skin, which seems to glow. Led by the warm flesh tones used for Qiying's face, the portrait observer's eyes may also be drawn towards the matching hues used for the beads Qiying wears around his neck, further enforcing a harmonious relationship among colors used by the artist.
This portrait of King Nangklao by Phra Soralakikhit provides a sense of regality through colors, contrast, saturation, and symmetry. Standing straight, King Nangklao looks forward with no expression, and only breaks symmetry by holding his sheathed sword in his left hand, just at his waist. His traditional robe blends into the background, while the clothing he wears under the robe shimmer in golden hues, and are highlighted by finely detailed jewels.
This figure painting by Francesc Miralles Galup depicts a woman seated in a coat and hat. Though her expression is blank, she has a kindness to her eyes that supports the warmness of this portrait. Focus is drawn towards the face in an interesting technique used by the artist where the subject's coat seems to lose shape, color and detail and blends with the background as it nears her waistline.
Although this portrait uses reds, artist Jean-Francois Millet still does a masterful job incorporating these traditionally brighter hues into the analogous color palette. The subject's serious expression is subtly reinforced by the dully painted skull, book, and sculpture on the shelf which sits next to him. This shelf and skull also serves the purpose of off-setting the subject, setting off a very understated imbalance in symmetry.
Another expressionless portrait, Attention, Company by William Michael Harnett depicts a young school-aged black boy holding a large staff, wearing a folded newspaper hat. He stands in a classroom, facing forward with great symmetry. A dark background with torn signs promotes a sense of seriousness to the painting that is contrasted with the boy's bright, innocent eyes. The colors used by the artist still leans toward an analogous theme, although they are a lot brighter and further in contrast from one another when compared to other works in this gallery.
This final portrait, the Portrait of Leopold Zborowski uses a flatter oil painting technique, and there is less of a realism effect used as with the other pieces in this gallery. Despite this, this work of art still masterfully uses its saturated, dark, analogous colors to convey a sense of depth, as Leopold looks straight ahead with his head slightly tilted, almost in contemplation. The depth of colors in this portrait are only broken in the whites used in Leopold's shirt.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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