April 25, 2008

Portraits painted exactly 100 years apart.

"The Sisters, " by Rembrandt Peale. Painted in 1828.

"The Sisters" (detail)

"Portrait of Paul Cadmus," by Luigi Lucioni. Painted in 1928.

"Portrait of Paul Cadmus"

(From the Brooklyn Museum of Art.)

20 comments:

chuck b. said...

That's not at all what I would have imagined Paul Cadmus looked like.

Ron said...

hmmm...I don't get the photos, it says they are unavailable.

chuck b. said...

You can click the 'not available' sign.

Ann Althouse said...

Should be working now. I had a technical problem I was fiddling with.

Ron said...

Nope, still can't see them.

Ann Althouse said...

Try it now.

vbspurs said...

The first, by Rembrandt Peale is extraordinary. Sometimes one sees portraits done nearly 200 years ago, and one is struck by how different expressions were. For example, haven't facial structures changed? LITERALLY realigned themselves.

These two sisters are completely modern, e.g.

The sister on the far left, looks like Tilda Swinton.

(One of my favourite actresses, BTW)

Cheers,
Victoria

peter hoh said...

"The only thing constantly changing is change"
---Lou Reed

reader_iam said...

Wonderful.

Makes me want to dial up Ruthie Henshall doing "Turn Back O Man." Oops, managed to do that while simultaneously hitting "publish your comment" here. What the hell?

Palladian said...

Don't forget that Paul Cadmus, the subject of the second painting, was not only beautiful but a brilliant and famous American artist who, through only the force of his genius, swam against the turbid current of 20th century art and survived.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The Cadmus portrait reminds me of your father as a young man.

George said...

I used to wonder how the Great Masters could render faces and landscapes with seemingly photographic perfection, prior to the invention of the camera.

I'm struck by the faces in Peale's painting. They're just so...right.

It turns out that lots of old timers may have used now forgotten optical devices that allowed them to trace images to achieve realistic effects. At least that's David Hockney's theory. It's controversial.

Eliot Angstead said...

I like the older photographs, too, before the era of the "say cheese" and the big goofy grin that ruins every photo.

Chip Ahoy said...

Rembrandt Peale had a good teacher -- his father Charles Wilson Peale, both know for their paintings of prominent Americans. Later studied in France. He's considered by experts, but not by me, to be a somewhat uneven painter. Himself, by himself.

>/pedantry<

Chip Ahoy said...

Photo of Paul Cadmus

rcocean said...

Love the "sisters", the other one not so much.

Jake said...

Those are my great, great, great, great grandmother and aunt.(Seriously.) Anne, thanks for taking note of R. Peale. He was the best of the "sons", probably even better than C.W.

Ann Althouse said...

Wow, Jake. Cool. That picture got to me because of the great success in using portrait painting to make the women look completely real and individual, yet idealized and perfected. It gave me a very profound feeling about what it means to be human. I wish more art did that.

I loved the Cadmus portrait too. Because it looks like my father? Because it looks like any modern, handsome guy? Or is it the same thing I saw in the Peale painting? This is a specific person, but we also feel a giddy enthusiasm for the ideal of the human being.

Jake said...

Ann... perhaps the reason the women seem to be less idealized and more "real" is that in the Peale family (and I believe generally in early British North America), women were considered very much equals to men, and certainly more important and significant in family matters. Note that CW Peale taught all his children to paint, including his daughter Angelica who was probably second to Rembrandt in talent.

One of the CW paintings I own is of his sister. She was quite an attractive woman and, in the style of the day, had a very light complexion. So CW mixed wax in the paint, giving her skin translucent glow. It is really gorgeous. I remember as a small boy staring at the painting... and wondering about the mysteries of woman!

knoxwhirled said...

both breathtaking