Last weekend I met once again with Goth Gardener. We went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and saw an animation movie, which Goth Gardener has written a marvelous post about, check it here! Before the movie started we had some time to browse through some of the exhibition rooms.
We had a splendid time trying to figure out the stories behind portraits or just making them up. This magnificent portrait of Lady Elizabeth Delmé and her children by British Sir Joshua Reynolds was intriguing to the both of us. Lady Elizabeth has a strong gaze and her pose is relaxed but clearly she is awere of her position and the power she has. We were quite certain she had a very interesting life with a few secret lovers! Her daughter seems like she is a little minx too, certainly going to cause some trouble. ;)
Since this is a post about art that is appealing to goths, I shall now introduce three paintings I found disturbing and funny at the same time. There were actually three paintings by three different artists in one room. They all have some similarities in style and they all depict children in a creepy and a bit distorted way.
Little Girl in Lavender was painted by American John Bradley circa 1840. That little kitty in the lower corner looks like it died and is actually a taxidermy. For some reason this painting also reminds me of Frida Kahlo and some of her works. Kahlo's paintings are not at all similar with this, though maybe this connection spurts into my mind because both have a slightly 2D look with a lot of symbolic connotations.
The Hobby Horse by American Robert Peckham was painted circa 1840 too. Even though some aspects of this painting are close to photo realistic, everything seems a bit off. The portions are not right and the dimensions are twisted like in some illustrations in Alice's adventures in Wonderland. The child on the horse has a some sort of a children's version of a bullwhip and the one behind looks like he/she is about to throw the other one off the horse. Not disturbing at all...
I am not familiar with this mode of painting from that era, but it is clear it was some sort of a fashionable way at that time. It reminds me of the art from 14th to 16th century. Especially the art that had baby Jesus or some royal infant. During the Middle Ages children were depicted as miniature adults because childlike features would have signified that the person was retarded, or a fool. Have you seen those paintings of Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus, who has a face of an adult? Those are really creepy!
Unfortunately the photo I took of the third one was out of focus. I guess it was just too disturbing for my camera! This painting is called The Westwood Children and it was painted by American Joshua Johnson circa 1807. All Westwood children have disturbing facial expressions and weird overalls.
From a close-up you can see the family's dog has smeared its lips in blood.
I think creepy portraits like these are quite gothic. If you think about films where there are haunted houses or gothic mansions, they are always filled with distorted and disturbing portraits and other pictures of creepy relatives. Appalling and sinister family pictures are a gothic motive in literature and in films.
Thanks for reading, my next post is most likely going to be a Creepy Reads Review!