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Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils Research Paper


Presentation of the Images

Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, focuses on the woman seated articulately on the emerald green chair. As the title suggests, this is a self-portrait of the painter.

The focal point in the composition is the elegantly dressed female artist donning a soft-hued blue dress wearing a straw hat, while two female pupils’ appearance blend in the background with the same tone of the color. The main artist who is on the emerald green chair is prominent in the composition with the two pupils appearing smaller because they are standing behind her directing the viewer’s glance towards the woman sitting.

Berthe Morisot’s The Pink Dress, on the other hand, shows a young woman in a pink dress sitting on a sofa. The focus of this picture is the young woman and more so the pink dress she is wearing in this picture. The viewer’s look is more directed at her facial expressions than any other element.

The image of the young woman is prominent in the painting. Her face and the pink dress she is wearing are the points of focus in the painting, which is the reason for the title of the painting called The Young Woman with a Pink Dress.

Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, portrays exemplary brushwork. She has skillfully applied the brushwork to reveal sharp and attractive images; it reveals a great level of detail ranging from folds of the dresses to the texture of the furniture. The artist appears to have used fine brush strokes to show the attractiveness of the picture details that include, floor, easel, chair, walls and the stool.

The painting offers an impressive use of paint richly applied and calling attention to the artist’s highly innovative brushwork. The quality of texture is an exhibition of crucial expressive feature in Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils. The images are represented with fine texture of the women’s faces, the satin dress, the emerald green chair as well as the burst in the background.

The visual texture of the composition brings out the effect of light on the value pattern of the fabrics in the setup. The portrait reveals a skirt texture because of the use of lights and the darks.

Berthe Morisot’s The Pink Dress on the contrary, is not sharp. The painting does not show great amount of detail, the texture of the pink dress, the young woman’s face and the sofa are not well defined.

However, the painting could posses tactile texture quality resulting from heavy use of paint but not visual texture quality. The artist has used wide brushstrokes, which is evident by the vague representation of items in the painting.

Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, portrays linear orientation of the images, the lines are invisible showing the images as smoothly curved giving an impression of fluid harmony within the composition. The use of lines in this painting direct the viewers’ glance towards the focal point in the composition.

Adoption of linear painting techniques in the painting is evidenced by the well-defined edges of the images including the women’s’ dresses, the furniture as well as the items in the background.

Berthe Morisot’s The Pink Dress on the contrary, contains visible lines of the artist’s brushstrokes. The lines surrounding the images in the painting are not well defined.

These lines are rigidly angular showing a painting pattern that is interrupted and discordant. According to Herman Who, the painterly attributes in this painting are shown by the blurry edges of the images as well as the background.

In Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, the prominent colors are dark brown and grey. These colors are concentrated more so in the background; the pupils’ dresses, the easel, chair, walls and the stool have all similar colors with the same tone. The use of these colors diminishes the vividness thus adding realism to Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils.

In addition, the color co-ordination in the painting gives an overall effect of smooth, continuous color transition. According to Larry, “color just like a drawing is abstraction, color does not become itself until the whole work is complete.” The color abstraction is strong in the painting; use of color distinguishes the shapes of images in the composition.

On the other hand, Berthe Morisot’s The Pink Dress, is done in bright pink color, with mixed grey along with a dark background creating a sense of intense vividness. The color co-ordination in this painting gives the impression of complementary harmony within the composition. There is lack of continuous color transition as exhibited by Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils.

Furthermore, in Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, shadows appear to be falling on the two pupils’ faces being an indication that the light source is on the right side of the painting. This gives the suggestion that there could be a window on that side of the room in the painting.

The lights vanishing line is located where the artists hat is, ushering the background where lies several statutes including a burst. The burst portray a darker tone away from the light source, this appear to be the deepest point of the painting.

In Berthe Morisot’s The Pink Dress, the source of light seems to be coming from the viewer’s eye. The woman does not have shadows hanging on her or the attire.

In addition, the light seems to be concentrated on her, as the background appears darkened. The background shows dimly lit flowers in a container which stand to the right of the container; it may be considered the deepest and the core point of the painting.

Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard in the Self-Portrait with Two Pupils was trying to assert femininity, the painting’s theme is woman or women. She carefully presents herself as a woman of stature by wearing an elegant dress. However, this would not be her normal dressing while working at the studio.

In addition to this, two of her female pupils accompany her. Here she tries to depict herself as a great teacher. Then at the background lies a statute of vestal virgin. She has successfully achieved her goal of show casing her ideas in a skillful way.

In Berthe Morisot’s The Pink Dress, the portrait of the young woman brings a sense of innocence, youth, tenderness. The artist has used pink and pink is considered color of love and beauty, it is not clear whether this was her intention or it was a coincidence, but pink is a prominent color in the portrait, this is further supported by the title of the work as the theme of the painting.

The color usage in the painting brings out a mood of beauty, innocence and love. The overall painting portrays some sort of fashion and elegance (Harrison and Wood 23).

The Subject Matter

Auricchio sums up the narrative action in the painting, he says, “a woman elegantly wearing satin dress with a low neckline exposing parts of her breasts sits on an emerald green chair, on her head, a straw hat.” In front of her there is a large canvas stretching on a wooden easel.

She has an intense gaze at the viewer of the painting as she stirs a paintbrush from the palette resting on her arms. Standing behind her are two young women, one staring at the easel and the other looking straight at the viewer with a slight smile on her lips.

Morisot’s The Pink Dress portrays less action as compared to Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils. The portrait shows a young charming woman wearing a high-necked light pink elegant dress, sitting on a sofa staring straight at the viewer’s eyes. With a warm smile on her lips, it seems she feels very comfortable resting her left arm on a cushion spotted in yellow.

According to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, oil on canvas measuring 83 by 60 inches, was first presented in 1785 to an audience at the Salon in Paris; it was one of her earliest masterpieces. She painted this portrait at her studio in Paris. At this time in France, there was increasing call for sociopolitical revolution.

The Great French Revolution was a period that saw the collapse of the absolute monarchy that had ruled for centuries. It was an epic change that saw the vanishing of religious and aristocratic privileges. In addition, this period was also marked with limited admission for women in academic institutions.

According to Solacini, Such was the case when Labille-Guiard was admitted at the French Academy together with three others; the admission limit was four students. These sociopolitical issues motivated her to paint this portrait. The painting was interpreted as propaganda material advocating for an unlimited admission of women into the academy.

Labile-Guiard had developed an attitude towards the culture that undermined women rights; she had to prove herself using her artwork. Self-Portrait with Two Pupils displayed the female virtue and according to Auricchio, it attracted the attention and championing of the King’s aunts. This royal connections made her politically suspect in the post French revolution of 1989 and she was thereby instructed to demolish her royalist paintings including some of her unfinished works.

On the other hand, according to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Morisot is The Pink Dress, oil on canvas measuring 22 by 27 inches, was one of her early works and is one of the few remaining one. Little is known about this piece of work, but according to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is estimated that the painting must have been done around the year 1870.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art further claims that the fashionable portraitist Jacques-Émile Blanche was present during the time of the painting and witnessed the event. He was a friend of Berthe Morisot and revealed that the painting was done before his eyes in Marguerite Carré’s family house at Villa Fodor.

“One day, she [Morisot] painted before my eyes a charming portrait of Mlle Marguerite in a light pink dress; indeed, the entire canvas was light. Here Berthe Morisot was fully herself, already eliminating from nature both shadows and half-tones.” (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). He further revealed that the painting required took sessions and that at one point she painted over what she had finished.

Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils belonged to the Rococo and Neoclassic art movements. Rococo is a late eighteenth century style adopted by some artists as they gave up symmetry to embrace floridity in their work. The main rococo element in the painting is the asymmetry.

The painting uses different kinds of elements that are not repeated, the elements are also not used in equal amount. Neo-classical movement drew inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman classical culture. The neo-classical elements in the painting are the sharp colors with clear tones as well as the impressions it gives of a dark light (The National Gallery).

According to Encyclopedia of World Biography, Berthe Morisot in her paintings pursed impressionistic style. Impressionism is an art movement that originated in the nineteenth century with a section of artists who were based in Paris.

Some of the characteristics of the style included relatively small, narrow but visible brushstrokes as well as featuring of ordinary subject matter. This is evident in this Berthe Morisot painting; she applied heavy paint touches to the canvas in different directions.

The use of this technique resulted in transparent quality in her paintings. Her paintings excluded unnecessary details thus producing an authentic impressionistic work. Most of her paintings displayed scenes of everyday life featuring women and children.

Works Cited

Auricchio, Laura. Harvard Magazine. Oct. 2009. Web. Nov. 2011

Encyclopedia of World Biography. Berthe Morisot. 2004. Web. Nov. 2011.

Harrison Charles, and Wood Paul. Art in Theory 1815-1900, Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.

HermanWho. Hum210, Art, Metaphor and Life. 1999. Web. Nov. 2011.

Labille-Guiard, Adélaïde. Self-Portrait with Two Pupils. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Larry. Painting Perception. Sep. 2010. Web. Nov. 2011

Morisot, Berthe. The Pink Dress. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Solacini, Claudia. The Art of Adelaide Labille-Guiard. Web. Nov. 2011

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. HEILBRUNN TIMELINE OF ART HISTORY. 2011. Web. Nov. 2011.

The National Gallery. Glossary: Chiaroscuro. 2011. Web. Nov. 2011.

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"Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils." IvyPanda, 28 Mar. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/adelaide-labillle-guiards-self-portrait-with-two-pupils/.

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IvyPanda. "Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils." March 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/adelaide-labillle-guiards-self-portrait-with-two-pupils/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils." March 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/adelaide-labillle-guiards-self-portrait-with-two-pupils/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Adélaïde Labillle-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils'. 28 March.

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