Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yay or Nay? Isabella Viscountess Molyneux

The skinny young Queen of England won everyone over with her layers of lace, which as balsamfir reminded us, was all painstakingly hand-made.  That alone could have given Charlotte the grand Yay that she earned.


Thomas Gainsborough paints Lady Molyneux (1769) in her satin striped robe a la francaise and black shawl.  

[Walker Art Gallery]

23 comments:

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  2. I love the somber quality of the painting, but I've never cared for that kind of wide ruffle along the bottom of a skirt. I guess it takes me back to my childhood and Holly Hobbie, but not necessarily in a nice way. I give it a very lacklustre yay.

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  3. Yay! It's very pretty and the black shawl adds to the prettiness of the dress. You can't be wrong with black.

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  4. The black shawl, although probably lovely in real life, is a vacuous black hole in what is otherwise a very lovely portrait. However, the dress is beautiful, so a Yay overall.

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  5. Yay! I love everything about it!

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  6. Wow, this is beautiful, look at that dress!
    Of course, anything painted by Gainsborough has to be a big "Yea" !
    -Julia

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  7. Interesting composition--on one side an almost pastoral countryside contrasted by a dark void and Isabella straddles the two. And while she seems to be wrapping the darkness around her, she looks to the brighter side. I wonder what her story is and why she was painted like that.

    But at the risk becoming too contemplative, I give her a Yay because she's wearing such a pretty dress;-)

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  8. I'm going to say Yay! Love the dress, it looks classy yet comfy (maybe my fever is affecting my thinking). Found this link to a podcast about this painting and it touches on Gainsborough's painting technique. It's long but interesting, there is also a link to a transcript if you don't want to hear the guy. http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/podcasts/gainsborough_molyneux.aspx

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  9. YAY! i love the colors!! the black shawl adds drama! And the hair is perfect.

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  10. I'm going to be the lone dissenter and say "Nay". The painting is truly beautiful, but the dress? I just don't like it.

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  11. I have to say "Nay." The whole picture is so dark and gloomy, including her dress. Wasn't this supposedly her "newly married" portrait? Shouldn't she look a bit happier? Makes me wonder what Lord Molyneux was like!

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  12. I would like to know the history of this painting and why it was painted with her looking to the light from the dark too. Good observation, Cherylynn.

    It's a very elegant painting and the sitter is extremely elegant too. I like the simplicity of it all. I wonder if this Vicountess was into spirituality?

    Definitely Yay.

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  13. I am afraid I just don't care for the outfit. The color scheme of the portrait is depressing, and her dress looks sort of flabby and as if it needs to be ironed. In real life, without the brown background, and given a touch of the iron it probably was a very attractive outfit. It looks like half mourning to me. Is it?

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  14. That is such an amazing gown! She gets a gigantic yay from me!

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  15. Definitely a yay from me! The black-and-white color scheme seems so modern (to me, anyway), so it's really interesting to see it in this portrait. It's just plain pretty, as well.

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  16. Nay. The dress is beautifully painted, but if I imagine it as a real frock, I wouldn't give it a second glance. It's just not interesting or notably elegant in any way.

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  17. I'm on the fence with this one, there is a moodiness to it, but the absolute darkness does stiffen the flow throughout the painting a bit. It drops very quickly from dark to light, that or it's my monitor. I dislike the wide ruffle at the bottom of the dress, makes me think of Little House on the Prairie. Other than that the dress is lovely & she looks good in it. Is she covering up with the darkness or shedding it? It makes me think of the dawn after the storm. This painting raises so many questions. I believe the story on this one could be even more interesting than the painting.

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  18. Yay, yay, yay! I love the dark trim on the shimmer taffeta.

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  19. YAY! Just perfect.

    Viscounts and viscountesses were always the best dressed: never too up in the rank to be worry with the status quo, not too low to be considered vulgar!


    [Ps. - my word of verification is «Blabbers». I think google is sending me a message...]

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  20. I like it! But it looks more like a polonaise to me, with a fitted back. It's hard to decide these things from the front, but the dress does hang shorter than the petticoat, which might indicate that it is drawn up at the back.

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