FEMALE: Paintings With A New Perspective

Idleness -by John William Godward

John Godward (1861-1922), was a British painter and a Victorian Neo-classicist artist. He was a follower of the theory of Frederic Leighton. His paintings featured women in classical dresses, mainly. His paintings were done with a new-found perspective: towards the women models, towards the art of portrait painting itself. Look at this painting Idleness. Here the lady in his classical costumes is playing with her pet, a cute cat. The price of this painting was estimated at 300,000 GBP to 500,000 GBP. At Sotheby, this painting was sold at 524,000 GBP.        

Purchasing an art-piece, that too at a price of Millions of dollars, is not an easy business. The buyers took professional advice before they buy a painting. The professional advisors provide details about the history of the painting being sold, its authenticity, and the estimated price. John Godward had painted many beautiful similar canvases depicting women. 

The Artist: The master painter always tries depicting stories, mainly mythological through such paintings. History of art witnesses that the artists of western and European countries seem unusually preoccupied with a painting of beauty of nature and the human alike. They made the human form an important, key-building block of their art. To paint human beauty has remained the most fertile subject for artists since the primitive age. While conceiving to paint a woman and choosing a model for the same, they have several artistic purposes in mind, not forgetting the aesthetic one.

Painters choosing men and women as their models also keep certain theories in minds. Take the case of the radiating paintings of Venus. The paintings of Venus, Goddess of love, personify the two most important aspects of human life: love and harmony. In many paintings, she is shown with Mars, the God of war. The idea behind such depiction is to show the effort of love and a sense of harmony to restraint the impulses that lead us to war. The main purpose of an artist here is to pacify the warmonger living within us.

Waiting for an Answer
-by John William Godward 

John Godward: Painting the Grace: An artist like Godward would consider the viewers as his joint partners in enjoying the art and adoring the beauty of the canvases he painted. Thus while selecting women or men as models for their paintings, the artists want to connect themselves with viewers choices. The painters wish to convey the exact feeling they encounter while looking at the final painting. During ancient time, whether it may be the paintings of Venus or the artworks done on the alters of churches, the artists' primary motive remained adoration of beauty of men and women, the wonderful creations of God.

John Godward was a fertile artist. He had produced much stock of frames. Look at this painting Waiting for an Answer. It is believed that the man sitting behind the counter was Godward himself. So, in a way, it was a self-portrait. 

His paintings are the speaking stock of his superbly painted canvases. When the colour-loaded brush of a painter runs on a canvas, it does not remain mute. It speaks. It sings a song along. It catches with the rhythm of the colours. And when we look at such a painting, we have our choices, desires and purposes. If we have eyes to see, we can hear the music the painter has infused in his or her painting, too. 

The purposes of looking at the artwork are as varied as the number of people seeing it. For most people, the work of art, a painting or a sculpture, is an object to look at and get enjoyed. They get pleased. But for a creative artist, a painting or any piece of artwork is an allegory. It is because in a painting the figures are intended to personify a variety of abstract ideas and thinking.

Tranquillity 1914 - by John William Godward

Look at the vibrant use of red and transparent red used for the clothes of the woman in the above painting, Tranquility (1914). The natural scene painted in the backside of the sitting model ads to the natural overall beauty of the whole canvas. Godward’s choice of subjects was more properly that of the style of Victorian Neo-classicist. He had kept his palette a vibrantly colourful one. No colour and no mood would escape his palette.

If we know the story told through the painting, the imagination that a painter had in mind becomes clearer to our minds. After discovering the imagination element embedded in the artwork, the details spread on the canvas of a painting function as a page of a book. The artists of western countries, mainly European, seem heavily preoccupied with painting the beauty of human figures: females and males alike. 

Under the Blossom that Hangs on the Bough
Oil on Canvas   
John William Godward

At first glance, Godward's paintings would look like simple portraits of homely people: men and women. But to conclude that would be a mistake. He had good architectural knowledge and had a very deep knowledge of the dresses. Due to this extraordinary prowess, he could paint the tiniest details of the dresses. He panted the parts of the building that happened to be on the canvas with utmost accuracy and precision. Here in this painting, we can see that how he has painted the artistic legs of the table on which the lady has put her beauty box, her make-up materials.

In Godward's paintings, we would mark the supporting presence of landscape feature. His women models are generally posed against landscape features. From his artworks and the dresses he painted, we can assume that he had painted under the influence of the artists of Classical Greco-Roman style of painting. [All the paintings above are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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