Henry Bacon Dated 1880
Oil on canvas
29.5 x 19.75 Inches
Framed: 37.5 x 29 Inches
Inscription: Signed LR: Henry Bacon 1880
Provenance: Provenance: Private California Collection
Note: A gentleman officer graciously assists a female passenger with her spyglass, viewing the distant vistas while onboard a late-nineteenth century passenger liner off the French coast. His steady hands, their sure gazes and her gossamer fabrics blend into the moment’s emotionally charged, yet very proper, dynamic. Another French ship clears their wake, with more utilitarian cargo. Such romantic and human subject matter drives the best works by Bacon, and commands his highest values.
It is interesting to look upon how much importance Bacon placed with the technical representation of the ship’s hardware. Pieces become competing subjects to the couple. The davit is strong and straight, much like the sailor, and it topped with a working block tucked like a sleeping bird. The intricate weave of the rail netting, and its fasteners and pole work in dichotomy to the two chains, the overhead thinner one which intersects the horizon, and the heavy iron of the links laid stoically on the wood deck.
Swirled coloration, especially in her long skirt and bonnet, compliment the simplicity of the sea’s hues. Likewise, his mystery of intentions is well hidden in his deep, deep blue uniform and slightly bushy yet well-kept facial hair, his eyes cast directly on his subject. The composition holds a viewer and creates a longing to know the rest of their story.
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