Jan Gordon: "Emotion" in Painting

A drawing in the "Emotion" chapter of "A Stepladder to Painting" (1934) by Jan Gordon looked familiar.



The accompanying text is as follows:

"Let us imagine that you actually saw your miners returning home in the broad sunlight. Now the question is: are you going to stick to the simple problem of the miners' fatigue, their desire for rest, and their exhaustion, or are you going to give expression to the irony of the men coming out of the darkness to be welcomed by the sunlight which they cannot really enjoy? If you choose to paint them in the full sunlight you will be unable to give an expression at its most poignant of their fatigue. But you can paint them powerfully thus, if your intention is more ironical.
Only then you will have altered your emotional angle, and your colour scheme must be changed to suit. Or you may combine the moods and paint your miners dark and tired, massed against the ironical sunlight."

Where was it I had I seen this image of a cluster of tired men emerging from work?

It is in a painting from probably 1910 of a square in Ghent, which has a smokestack in the left background and a group of dark-clad workers emerging through a gate on what looks to be a cold autumn or winter afternoon. In contrast to the advancing workers there is a much more relaxed atmosphere in the square itself, with children playing and dogs walking. There are many engaging details to observe in this picture on closer inspection.


Here is a closer view:




How interesting to find this same motif enlarged upon in a book published nearly a quarter of a century later! In the original Jan Gordon contrasts the emerging workers with a carefree scene of people playing in a square, whereas a quarter of a century later he focuses the discussion on contrasting the "dark, tired, massed" workers against "ironical sunlight." 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jan Gordon's "The Ostwald Colour System" (1938)

Jan Gordon and the Dazzle-Painting of Ships

Jan and Cora Gordon: Richard Perry and the YMCA during WW1