Monday, July 8, 2013

20 Favorite Paintings, #1: Moonlight Wolf by Frederic Remington

Frederic Remington was a master of the nocturne.  For many years he lamented that he just could not get the color of night correct.  I believe this one was completed after he felt he got it right.

One of the things I most like about this piece is how the main subject is so close to dead center!  Also, check out how that diaganol line of the shore cuts right to the lower left hand corner.  Here we have a Master who breaks two cardinal rules at the same time!  And yet this painting works.  It does more than merely "work," it's stunningly brilliant.  So much for those rules.

Remington centered his subject reasonably often, especially in his nocturnes it seems.  In a lot of the others, though, the subjects take up much more area and are of more variegated shapes so it is less noticeable.  I think this works here because he has divided the space up into essentially 3 regions of value with the sky and water occupying roughly the same value range.  Each triangular swath of value occupies a different amount of surface area, darkest has the least, the lightest has the middle amount of space, while the mid value occupies the largest area.  This variegation of the value pattern creates a unbalanced backdrop which allows the subject to be centered without seeming static.

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