Time to share with you one of my all-time favourite paintings! Now the 19th century was, in terms of artistic endever, a truly beautiful time. You cannot deny the artists of this period could certainly appeal to the viewers eyes. Of all the artworks of the 1800′s, I don’t think any really come close to this one. ‘Vengence is Sworn’ (1851) by Italian artist Francesco Hayez (1791-1882), depicts a tragic tale.
The artwork was originally part of a series, it’s sister portraits named: ‘A Secret Accusation’, and ‘A Rival’s Revenge (The Venetian Women).’ The former shown below.
And what, pray tell, is the story being told in ‘Vengence is Sworn’? A devestated Venetian woman just told by her servant that her husband has been unfaithful. It shows a hurt woman. I love the poses here, the servant so close to whisper her the truth, written on that letter. The married woman pushing her away so you can almost feel her trying to reject the truth. When seeing their poses, Wallace Stegner’s ‘Angle of Repose’ comes to mind:
“Touch. It is touch that is the deadliest enemy of chastity, loyalty, monogamy, gentility with its codes and conventions and restraints. By touch we are betrayed and betray others… an accidental brushing of shoulders or touching of hands… hands laid on shoulders in a gesture of comfort that lies like a thief, that takes, not gives, that wants, not offers, that awakes, not pacifies. When one flesh is waiting, there is electricity in the merest contact.”
I feel it is same for the opposite, to deny that comfort. I feel that is what is shown here and certainly relevant to the time it represents.
The background is so simple, letting the attention to be drawn where it should be. It makes the characters that more dramatic.
Another element I just love is the woman’s eyes. They way they are turned make it seems she has none at all. I believe they represent her blindness to how her husband has been loving another. They appear ghost-like, which I think reveals her own feelings also.
You can pick at this painting all you like, and no matter how much I’ll pretend to know about this painting, there is one reason above all others for me to love it. That is, it’s just simply a fucking beautiful work of art.