Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Shepherdess & Lady Agnew

I referred to the William Adolph Bouguereau's painting The Shepherdess in the previous post. It is a hard painting to find. Pondering a bit I remembered where I had found it, Brian Yoder's Good Art Gallery, Bouguereau collection.

Brian Yoder's Good Art

It is a small scan but it is the only rendition of this painting I have ever found on the Internet.

The second painting is John Singer Sargent's famous Lady Agnew. You can read more about it and see an actual photo of Gertrude (Lady Agnew) here:

Lady Agnew

What I like about both of these paintings is the untamed feminine spirit within these women. The Shepherdess and Lady Agnew are on the opposite ends of the economic spectrum and lifestyle yet they share that wonderful look of determination and spirit. I love both of these paintings. Click on either image to see a full sized rendition. Be sure to click on Lady Agnew, then click the larger image for yet a larger. The small images do not do Lady Agnew justice.

Here is an interesting experiment to try. On the full sized Lady Agnew, hold a piece of paper vertically over one side of her face and then the other. The paper should be held exactly in the middle so that you can only see the left side of her hair line, her left eyebrow, her left eye, the left side of her nose, the left side of her mouth and the left side of her chin, and vice versa. A remarkably different woman is revealed on each side of her face. I should like to take credit for that discovery, but I believe I read it in the JSS Gallery site some time ago.

EDIT 4-14-11:  I am beginning to think that I didn't look too hard for a scan of the Shepherdess...I checked Google images today and found several large scans.  Click on this second image of the Shepherdess and then click it again for full size.  She is magnificent!  I must confess I have a crush on her.  I love subtleties in paintings.  Look at her forearms and neck, the coloration would indicate that this girl needs a good scrubbing, as she should, being a shepherdess. Her face, however, is relatively clean, giving her a self respect despite her circumstances.   Look at those eyes, they are infinite.  The sadness of the ages are to be seen in their depths, yet there is a fierce don't mess with me spirit in them.  The delicacy and coloration of her lips are lovely.  Her hair oddly neat yet unkempt at the same time is beautiful and the delicate wisps give her a tenderness that belies the determination of her eyes.  The casual placement of her staff under her left elbow gives her a confidence.  She looks as though she could defend herself quite effectively with that staff...again giving her a fierceness.  She is comfortable in her skin.  The plaid garment appears to be a mark of her family and it gives her pride. Is she Scottish?  The placement of her bare feet (oh yes, the bare feet, like St Teresa has an impact on my Soul) suggest a casual comfort and ownership of her surroundings.  This young shepherdess is the master of  her surroundings as much as Lady Agnew was the mistress of her household.  Respect both!  Between the shepherdess and the rock appears a pasture rose and there is a thistle adjacent to her feet, cattle can be seen in the distance behind her.

Looking at her, I imagine myself to be a poor young farm boy, sneaking away from my work in the fields to be with her, to flirt with her, and perhaps steal a kiss.  Yet is is not simply a romance.  I look into the depths of her eyes and she exudes the wisdom of the ages coupled with a fresh innocence.  That dichotomy of wisdom and innocence along with her fierceness touches my Soul.  A masterpiece!       

Image Credits:

The Shepherdess, Brian Yoder's Art Gallery & Critics Corner (link above)

Lady Agnew, JSS Virtual Gallery (link above)

The second scan of The Shepherdess:

My World, William-Adolphe Bougueau:Famous paintings of William-Adolphe Bougueau


  1. My comment evaporated. The shepherdess could be my godchild, also an artist. That one side of Lady Agnew's face is unlike the other is not unusual and has made her easier to paint. Check out your own face. So said a univ. of chicago art professor (and painter) years ago. Both are lovely paintings.

  2. You are a better amateur art historian than I am.
    Many years ago, I spent a winter afternoon in the Isabelle Gardiner museum in Boston. Its glory is the huge Sargent painting of an evening in a flamenco pub in Spain, around 1890. I did not know this painting until I turned corner and found the huge thing gracing an entire wall of a nontrivial room. Sargent was paying his respects to a very great Spaniard, the remarkable Goya. Now and then I wallow in flamenco singing and dancing on YouTube. When I do so, memories of Sargent's great painting dance in my mind.
    In all lives, there are roads not taken. In my life, one such road is the one to Spain and Portugal.

    1. consa,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Would the painting in question be El Jaleo?

      It is a lovely work and Sargent captures the dynamics of the dance to the degree that the eye waits for the dancer to move.

      I hate to think of all the roads not taken, I should really call this blog Un-Navigating The Finite. The Internet however is a grand way to experience art, and perhaps choose some roads in the future. Navigating The Finances of retirement will be very decisive in that regard.