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African girl Sarah Forbes Bonatta who was the queen of Queen Victoria. This photo looks dissonant because at that time Africans had an unenviable position in society, and Africa itself was actively colonized by Europeans. This photo conveys the charm of femininity, the purity of youth, inspiring the energy of beauty and inner peace of harmony. In portrait art, especially in women’s images made at the end of the 19th century, realistic principles do not boil down to the copying of nature and the display of psychological qualities, they are closely related to the complexity of the philosophical, religious and intellectual quest that was then prevalent among the creative intelligentsia. Adherence to realism is manifested here in the absolute veracity of the composition, in which everything is subordinated to the creation of a lofty-closed image. The smooth line of the silhouette of the stranger, the correct oval of her face, concentrates on the viewer’s attention, and the clearly defined space enclosed by the back of the carriage is inseparable from the plastic-volumetric modeling. In the peace of gestures and staginess of posture, there is an inner certainty and a special natural, and not deceived, nobility of the soul. A slightly upturned nose indicates the manifestation of capriciousness, but in the general softness of facial features, simplicity and tranquility are read. The pose expresses the inner firmness of character, self-confidence, calmness and self-satisfaction. Before us is a strong-willed, independent, somewhat gruff, but creative nature. This model seemed to dictate to invent a new approach, and the Silvy had to search for a suitable artistic language for a true embodiment of the portrait image and to achieve depth of penetration into the spiritual world of the model.
Another photo of interest to me is Caroline Heath as Fiordelisa in ‘The Fool’s Revenge’. Although before us is the generalized image of the “stranger”, but how strikingly individual are the features of her face. In her look, whether contempt, or compassion, or sadness, or coldness is a mystery. Silvy masterfully solved coloring photos helping us endlessly admire the impossibility of unraveling it. White dress as a hint of neighborhood in her image of velvet tenderness and coldness of silk – emphasize the noble pallor of the skin and the natural beauty of the blush. In her image we see a melancholy of loneliness, she is an ideal to which the perishable world is alien, and, at the same time, she is just the corner of her eye the peeped image of the contemporary artist. Silvy tells us in this work sadness, the artist’s eternal longing for perfection and perfection – as if inspiration, perfection is subtle, fleeting. The sensation of anxious mobility is amplified by the impetuously written feathers of shawls, as if trembling in the cold wind. Emotionality of Silvy’s image is given with the help of a light and shadow solution which implies a special setting of the figure, an easy turn of the head, a slightly raised chin. This moment of communication with the viewer in general is a feature of many photos of Silvy. The portrait amazes with the accuracy of the image, the sharpness of the artist’s eye, improvisational ease successfully combined with high professionalism and virtuosic thoughtfulness of color and compositional solutions. The play of light slightly shades the aristocratic whiteness of the skin. Simple and typical facial features are transformed by a photographer who inspires them with inner concentration, poetry, in harmony with the general mood prevailing in the photo.
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