Thursday, February 19, 2009

John Maler Collier

I am awestruck by this painting, yet I am unsure as to why. This type of painting is reason why I started this blog. I heard Charles Bernard, fastasy illustrator state that people may have trouble expressing why they like an image because they don't understand what makes an attractive picture. I am trying to understand why the aesthetic of this piece is pleasing to me. On a visceral level, I love the female form. It is one of the most beautiful things ever created in natural in my opinion. Ivory skin with red hair was always attractive to me as well. Those same reds in Lady Godiva's hair are mirrored in the horses bridal and blanket (I am sure there is another word for that). The streets are empty as the story tells, the doors closed and locked. Godiva has a look of defeat and shame as the only way to help the people was to deal with this indignity. Her indignity though is offset by the noble look of her steed, it's head held high in opposition to her head hung low. There are wonderful details in this piece such as the embroidered lions on the tapestry (is that what it is called?) and shields on the bridal. Then there is the gold bit and the chain links meticulously rendered as well as the iron bolts on the door, whose wooden texture is only surpassed by that of the texture of the town's stone walls. There is a wonderful flow and path for the eye to follow starting at the steed's head, down along the bridal, up Godiva's arm to her face.

No this, I would hang on my wall...


  1. Ok, I think you are inspiring me to start looking at the art I love in more critical detail. Understanding on more than a visceral level - bringing in an articulate awareness as well - looks valuable and education to me.

    Thanks again for all of these Mark.

  2. Mark, this painting has actually always drawn me in for several minutes. I have a massive, ongoing desktop folder of master paintings and whenever this one pops up when I search for some reference/inspiration, I can't help but pause. Collier masterfully frames Godiva between the back of her steed's head/neck and the negative space that is much lighter in value. This composition is also chock full of lines of beauty or S curves, whichever you prefer. The contrast between her downtrodden defeated pose against her proud steed's perfect posture is just gorgeous and powerful. Keep up the work on this blog man, I dig what you're doing so far. Plus I've learned a few names on the way.