Eye Candy for Today: George Moreland night portrait

Portrait of a Girl in a Garden, George Moreland
Portrait of a Girl in a Garden, George Moreland

Link is to the Yale Center for British Art, which has the original in its collection. Their page for the painting offers both zoomable and downloadable versions. There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project, and a downloadable one on Wikimedia Commons.

I’m not sure this is an actual portrait; the economically noted face looks idealized to me; but it’s a beautifully handled piece — from the unerring way in which Moreland controls your gaze with light and dark passages, to the wonderfully bold handling of the woman’s sleeve and the top of her dress.

The background holds just enough detail to create the presence of an environment, without intentionally drawing your eye there. A delicate suggestion of moonlight pervades the composition, giving it a romantic, somewhat mysterious air.

I particularly like the way the light that illuminates the soft white folds in the dress is echoed in the feathered decoration on her hat, and the woman’s face recedes somewhat between them, inviting the viewer in to more intimate relationship with the subject.

You will find reproductions of this painting on sites that want to sell you “pretty pictures” in which they have uncaringly amped up the brightness and saturation to the point where it’s impossible to tell it is a night scene.

2 Replies to “Eye Candy for Today: George Moreland night portrait”

  1. This is a weird, dreamlike scene, in which the girl might be as phantasmic as the rest of the painting. Is that a covered carriage to the upper left? Is there a bunch of mistletoe just behind her head? And is she a…large….woman, or is her dress puffed out with a crinoline or a bustle? Is she a dream girl or a midnight’s hallucination?

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