Sunday, March 15, 2009

Coffee: Woman at a Table

Victor-Gabriel Gilbert (Paris, 1847-1933/35) A Cup of Coffee, 1877
An academic genre painter of domestic scenes and Parisian boulevard life, he also painted lively depictions of open air French markets and fairs. The woman here is likely a domestic servant, not the lady of the house. This scene, or one like it, has been painted by dozens of artists of this era.

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) Cafe au Lait, 1881

A woman drinking coffee by an Impressionist painter.

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) Le Cafe, 1915

An at-home portrait of his wife sipping coffee with her pet dog nearby. The artist leaves enough room in the foreground to make us feel welcome to join her.

Cafe et un cigarette (Paris, 1925) Roger Violette Photo Collection

Edward Hopper (Nyack, NY, 1882-1967)
Automat, 1927

A young woman sits alone, staring at a cup of coffee. The place is called an automat, yet there is nothing automatic or modern about it. It is merely a drab table by a night window. The reflection of overhead lights seems to recede into the night. Automats were supposed to make New York life easier and possibly fun. It falls short of the expectations.
Hopper's paintings are famous for their still and isolated people but more technically for the way he allows the light to illuminate a building or a wall and leave the remaining space subdued.

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