Thursday, February 19, 2009

The preparation of a dead girl / bride

Article in today's Globe and Mail

Gustave Courbet's painting above, The preparation of a dead girl / wife has a wonderful story of accidental modernism behind it. Courbet, probably better know for different painting, painted the above with the ... ahh fuck it; time for more work. Here's Sarah Hampson from the Globe article above:


What is a wife? A dead girl.

That is the message – unintentional, mind you – of a painting by French artist Gustave Courbet that belongs to Smith College, a famously feminist all-women's institution in Northampton, Mass.

The 1850s-era work depicts a young bride surrounded by women who are helping her prepare for her wedding. But for many years, there were questions about it. Why is the bride's head slightly lopsided? Her arms limp by her side? Why is she slumped in her chair?

An X-ray provided the answer. Mr. Courbet had painted a scene of women preparing a dead body for a funeral. He left it unfinished, however, and after he died his sister asked another artist to make adjustments to create a happier scene so the work would sell. Mr. Courbet's original title, The Preparation of the Dead Girl, had been changed to The Preparation of the Bride.

The Smith College Museum of Art now uses the before-and-after to help teach students about art history and painting technique, says Louise Laplante, the school's collections manager – not as a comment on marriage.


Anyway, pretty cool! Another NYT article.

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