The Merry Widow In searching for an art piece that was relevant to our reading, I stumbled upon Jessica Li’s “The Merry Widow”. It is painted on an oil canvas that measures 7×9, located in the Dana gallery in my hometown of Missoula Montana. Jessica, the artist grew up in Mill Valley in California and painted in New York City for 20 years before moving to Northwest Montana. Jessica unusually meticulous oil painting techniques is grounded in the varnish mediums of the Dutch Golden Age. The New York Times has described her works as “Straightforwardly beautiful” with “an element of weird”.
Her work has been noted for its color and luminosity, it’s imaginative and evocative content, and for the high quality of her technique. This is exactly what I notice when I saw the painting of “The merry widow”. The painting depicted a heavier set women sitting down next to what looks to be a table and in her right hand she holds a yellow fan. The more I look at the picture the more the story unfolds. The title of the painting tells me that she was married and her husband died. What is interesting is that it seems as if the funeral just occurred or is about to happen.
She is dress up in a black revealing dress, pearl earrings, her curly hair and makeup is done as if she was going out or doing something that required her to be all dolled up. The yellow fan tells me that she could have been in a church, perhaps it was handed out at the funeral. That could explain why she is dressed up. This painting gives me an odd feeling because it makes me think about why she would be happy, when most widows would grieve when they have lost their significant other.
Makes you as the viewer wonder what really went on in the relationship. Maybe he was an abuser and got what he deserved in an accident or maybe he was a very well off man that left her the world of riches. Or it could just be that she is ready to move on in her life and is happy. One will never know what happened to her husband but from the looks of it she is over it. Jennifer’s style is definitely portrayed in this picture; New York Times said it best when they said it’s beautiful yet weird.
Jennifer uses sharp, darker lines to outline the widow she gave her a bigger look, this is done by the roundness of her figure. There is really no muscle tone that is defined to further show she is overweight but her big and brood shoulder that extends to her neck showing that she is a big boned gal. The light seems as it is coming in from the right, this is shown by the reflection of her body and face. Her arm that is on the table is well lit in the light and the light fades as you move further left into her body.
Jennifer didn’t use any vibrant or bright colors everything in the painting is very dull and earth tone colors besides the yellow fan. According to crysta-cure. com, the color yellow represents or symbolizes wisdom, joy, and happiness. The color yellow is the perfect color to represent a merry widow, while everything around her life is dark she holds a bright, joyful and happy future. The background is painted in purple which is said that when you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind.
It also symbolizes mystery which correlates to what I said earlier about guessing what happened to her husband. Jennifer uses her space very well; the painting shows two chairs which is in the background slightly pulled out as the widow sits on the edge of the one to the right, like one would sit if when they are ready to go somewhere else or not staying long, eager to leave. The left chair is left empty; this might be shown to tell you that the widow is now looking for another companion to join her and once she does they are out of there.
The viewer can easily see that the painting has three zones that make up the space. The foreground shows the widow, it is apparent that she and the table is in front of the painting. The middle ground sits the chairs that are facing directly towards the viewer in a two dimensional view, as if they were pulled straight back from the table. The background is where you see the purple wall and how it transitions from a light purple to a darker purple, from right to left reflecting the light that is coming from the right of the room.
This painting reminded me a lot of Raphael’s self-portraits that were done in the sixteenth century. It contains the same level of mystery, making the viewer wonder what the person in the painting is really thinking about. Jennifer does a great job on all her painting, they are tell an interesting story, glad I can view this type of work a few blocks away from my house. References http://www. danagallery. com/artists/li/themerrywidow2. html http://crystal-cure. com/yellow. html http://crystal-cure. com/purple. html http://www. jenniferli. info/biography%20page. html