Friday, 26 June 2009

Tricoteuse – William Bougereau (1879)

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Tricoteuse_(1879)

‘Tricoteuse’ is the French word for someone, especially a woman, who knits.  Someone such as the old women who famously sat and knitted while above them Madame Guillotine carried out her daily shaving  of heads – a ceremony called by some enthusiasts “the red mass.”

So is this just a young girl knitting?  Or, since nothing in art is unintentional, is something more intended?  What clues are there in the painting?

4 comments:

  1. Well it's difficult to say with PC monitor resolution and a lack of late nineteeth century french history knowledge.
    A young girl, with her back to the wall...A nation with no choice? A people of determination? Purpose? She appears to be rising up out of the darkness and knitting a particularly fine cloth for knitting needles. Her eyes are sunken and dark with smudges as if she has been crying. The place she stands in within view of a stairwell and view of the mountains behind. A future path to enlightenment or transcendence of some sort?

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  2. Look at her dress, the architecture and the landscape: this is not France; perhaps she is a pied-noir, but more likely an arab. I doubt it has any further meaning. These studies of exotic people are quite common in the Academic tradition.

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  3. Prompted by this post, I had a bit of a read up on William Bougereau and enjoyed the chronological series of images that Wikipedia has of his work.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William-Adolphe_Bouguereau#Gallery

    The model for this appears in a LOT of his work, in fact viewing it chronologically you watch her aging slightly.

    Looks like he had a thing about knitting too
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Knitting_Woman_painting_by_William-Adolphe_Bouguereau.jpg

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