Eye Candy for Today: Henri Harpignies’ View of Moulins

A View of Moulins, Henri-Joseph Harpignies; watercolor
A View of Moulins, Henri-Joseph Harpignies

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the download or zoom icons under the image on their site.

At once straightforward and poetic, this view of a town in central France by the Barbizon painter is a beautiful example of the evocative power of watercolor. Harpignies combines solid draftsmanship, precise edges and loose, gestural applications of color in perfect balance.

His composition is likewise a subtle balance of horizontal and vertical elements, connected by the thread of the irregular forms of the foliage and clouds.

I particularly love the briefly noted figures at the edge of the water — how simple and yet perfect they are.


3 Replies to “Eye Candy for Today: Henri Harpignies’ View of Moulins”

  1. You said evocative power of water color. I’ve wondered before what causes this.
    Does the quick simplicity of their making show as an immediacy when we look at them? I’m leaving out all the ones done with things like planned and technical maskings and other stuff understood by old offset printing layout folks. Whatever, it’s good to see this quality work in this piece with all it’s successfully evoked detail.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Martin.

    I think to some degree, it’s the property of watercolor that invites a certain level of suggestion, allowing our minds to fill in, but in the right hands, maintaining a firm ground from which to do so. It’s not that oil isn’t used this way (or that all painting isn’t suggestion at some level, just that the way watercolor forms shapes when used in certain ways really lends itself to that quality.

Comments are closed.