For this research point we are asked to go on the internet and find some portraits that convey a distinctive mood or atmosphere rather than simply a physical likeness.
Femme aux Bras Croisés, 1902 by Pablo Picasso
This portrait by Picasso was painted during his “Blue period”. The colour palette is cold and dour and the woman appears to be staring at the distance with a gloom or disinterest. Her position with crossed arms has a negative/defensive feel. The colours/expression and body position all leading to a very gloomy atmosphere, and depressive feel.
The Blind Man’s Meal, 1903 by Pablo Picasso
Here a blind man feels for the jug on the table. The jug being the only item with any colour, your view is drawn to it constantly. The figure is elongated emphasizing the painfully thin physique, also emphasized by the highlighting on the face and neck. The fact that there is little else in the painting makes the viewer focus on the sad, lonely person and meagre meal he has.
A Portrait of a Lady Aged Sixty-Two
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn 1606-1669
A Portrait if a Young Woman
Both the portraits by Remrandt above treat the subjects in the same way. A limited pallett, a similar pose and the face lit so that one really is only concerned with what this person looked like. The clothing may tell us their status but there is little atmosphere as such unless it is quiet, stillness. These are purely the “photograph” of the day.
By contrast to these artists we are asked to look at Fauve painters and German Expressionists.
Fauvism was a term given to a group of artists who used colour, other than for purely repressentational description. It was used to project a mood, be bold describing shape or areas (in portraiture, of a face). As in the portraits by Henri Matisse and Andre Derain of each other below.
Describing the plains of the face by gradual merging of skintone colour is replaced with bold almost flat areas of unnatural colour. You dont have a blue or green face but these colours do describe that there is shadow and in the case of the Derain portrait of Matisse it is in direct contrast to the yellow tones which push forward making the face appear tilted slightly away from the viewer
1914 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Portrait of Gerda
This painting by German Expressionist, Ernst Kerchner, has flattened the face even more, he appears to have made the areas that would have been shadow, pink, so although not shade we are aware there is a difference. The bright abstract colours around give the impression she is outside perhaps and only by the colours do we get the feel of sunshine. I feel it is a happy portrait, head tilted upwards and the fresh colours give me this feel.
There are several pictures of this painting on the internet and each has a very different showing of the colours, this illustrates how difficult it is to see a true likeness of a painting unless you are standing in front of it.