Saturday, 20 February 2010

The Wounded Cavalier by William Shakespeare Burton (1855)

Presumably the Dying Cavalier by William Shakespeare Burton: his pallor is of an almost surreal sort. But then there's something formally quite experimental, or unsettling, about this ... on the one hand it flaunts its photorealism:
To paint his most famous work, Burton was said to have dug a hole in the ground to stand in, so that he could paint the grass and ferns at eye level. The work shows a scene from the English Civil War: a Cavalier courier has been ambushed and wounded, and is comforted by a Puritan maiden. Her jealous suitor, carrying a large Bible, looks on.
On the other, the broken sword blade, weirdly inset into the treetrunk, and apparently (in a mannerist way) also inset into the Bible, cuts directly across the image and makes it hard to read the image in a 'naturalist' way.

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