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The Ribalds Daumier

nightowl's picture

The lack of features in the face of the woman in the forefront of this painting is what I first noticed. I kept looking because of the rough indents in her face alluded to what she might look like, they reminded me of festive movement. I think one possible reason for the lack of facial detail is that she is in movement. She appears to be either dancing or greeting someone. There is a second woman next to her that has her arm raised with her fingers spread. This pose could be one of greeting or a dance movement. The woman in the forefront further supports the idea that it is a greeting by looking at the general direction of the waving hand. She is also holding an object that resembles a book; it looks like she has stuck her thumb inside of a page to keep it open. This implies that she had recently stopped reading in order to wave at someone or dance. 

The next thing that caught my attention was the shapes behind and surrounding the two women. My eyes first formed the strange shape behind the two women into their shadows, but after a moment I saw that it was yet another woman. This woman appears to be a holding a basket of fruit on top of her head. Behind the three women stands the rough outline of a house. The house has two stories, but does not look expensive; it could possibly be a farmhouse. In the top left corner of the painting there is a dark almost black blotch that I originally thought could be a smokestack. When I further examined the frame that had been tagged with the artist’s name Daumier on it, it looked like it had been made before there were factories, ruling out the possibility that it could be a smokestack. I am still unsure about what it is, it could possibly be a tree, cloud, or smoke from a large fire.

The most peculiar of the undefined objects in the painting are two brown ones in the bottom left corner. One is a patch that has the possible outline of a marble female statue inside of it. The other object is a splash of brown paint that vaguely reminds me a mother overlooking a daughter. Both objects were painted sideways on the canvas compared to the rest of the painting. The objects randomness and the probability that they were both painted with the same brown paint makes me think that the painting was never completed, even though I did not think this when I first saw it. Further examination of the background the majority of which is plain and without any nature, the unnatural accentuation of the moving girls’ toes, and the various objects in the painting that are hard to define makes me think that this was the case.