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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Edmund Charles Tarbell: Girl with a Violin

Edmund Charles Tarbell: Girl with a Violin
oil on canvas, c. 1890
private collection
no copyright infringement intended

Had Tarbell posed his violinist in a brighter dress, the visual line might not have so clearly followed her smooth white arms and the purposeful fingering of her instrument. Only a single gold bangle distracts from the serious beauty of the painting, and in its simplicity the bracelet centers the eye and adds an interesting detail to an already interesting subject.

Alabaster skin and black velvet brought about an artistic social scandal in John Singer Sargent's 1884 Portrait of Madame X, while in Tarbell's 1890 Girl with Violin, a similar effect was striking though not shocking. Set before a dark, almost mystical background, a young woman holding an equally dark violin plays with intent composure.

(Edmund Charles Tarbell)



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