Lady with a Bouquet, (Snowballs), Charles Courtney Curran
Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Birmingham Museum of Art (AL) which also has a zoomable version. Oil on panel, roughly 12 x 8 in (31 x 22 cm).
American painter Charles Courtney Curran was known for his genre paintings, often of well dressed young women in idyllic surroundings.
In this small painting, Curran’s wife poses for a delicately sensitive portrait in which her shadowed face is in the same value range as the foremost of the flowers in the bouquet she examines, both illuminated from behind by gentle sunlight from a window outside our view.
I particularly admire the rather daring way Curran has silhouetted her profile against the bright passage of one of the sunlit groups of blossoms, using the value contrast to advantage as the focus of composition, while taking the risk that it might overwhelm the delicate modeling of her face.
Throughout, the brushy paint application is so loose and confident as to appear almost casual, though Curran’s superb draftsmanship and the powerful naturalism of the scene indicate that his approach was anything but casual.