Monday, November 9, 2009

Check out this bad boy...


Is it weird that I refer to this work in masculine terms when it in fact depicts two females? No, I don't think so. No, I don't understand why I just did that. I just know you may officially refer to "him"-- or it, if you prefer me to be more gender-sensitive-- as Edouard Manet's career-changing painting The Railway (1872-73), located at this moment downtown in the National Gallery of Art, two blocks from my work at the NBM.

Take 30 seconds and spin me a story about this scene. Tell me in a few words your interpretation of what is going on within, according to your eyes. (Pleeeeease!)

I'm not gonna tell you what I know about it this week. I'm more interested in what y'all can come up with. See, this guy is what currently occupies all my time, talents, and thoughts (well, not ALL my thoughts... sometimes I eat. And teach. And do other fun stuff :) He is the subject of my massive historiography paper/presentation and basically my entire final grade rests upon the types of new ideas I can find within its smokey, colorful contours. I am currently busy surveying what all the smart people have to say about it, in aaaaaall the long decades since its creation. Somehow I've got to find something they've missed and expound upon it (sooooo much reading required to do so... I love reading. I love reading, I swear I do!). It continually amazes me how many cool socio-historical facts the big-league art historians can come up with to make you see deeper and deeper into a work like this. It also amazes me just where these professionals have to dig in order to come up with said facts. I have so much to learn about researching.

But in the meantime, we're just gonna enjoy the beauties of a very important work of art, which is an experience we should always start with, anyways! Take another few looks at this amazing work:

Think about it. I sure am.

All I know is, I'm quickly becoming obsessed with Monsieur Manet. SO fabulous. I'll tell you about him soon! Have a great week!


Summer Lewis said...

Okay, here's my story.
Mother and daughter are waiting at the train station for the arrival of father, who has been away for an extended business trip. See, the daughter is really dressed up, but not in something her mother would have necessarily picked out, because she is wearing a very summery dress, while the mother is covered head to toe. It's fall, but it's the daughter's favorite dress and she wants to meet her father in it. Mother is too worn out to care. And it's a good thing they brought along some snacks and something to read, but cause the train is late, as always. The end.

MOM said...

Good one Summer!

My first thought was that they've bid farewell, and daughter is watching the intrigue of the train pulling away as well as catching her last glimpse of Daddy. Wifey isn't happy he's going, and can't bring herself to watch him pull away. She's trying to distract herself with a book she carries along, but it's not working. The puppy used all his energy in the morning's bustle to get to the station and now has crashed in her lap. The end.

That's my first gut response. How's your story-analysis reading going? Thanks for sharing Manet. Enjoy your study of him!

"Life is like a railway journey..." :)

M.C. said...

Okay. Here goes nothing: I think that the woman is the nanny and she has had it! The house is a disaster, the little girl won't listen, and the dog keeps making messes. She has taken the girl to the train station where she will meet the parents and quit her job. Then she is going to spend the rest of the day in a lovely cafe eating and reading. [completely incorrect considering the time period... but look at that poor woman's face! She is in some serious need of a bubble bath!]

Jayci said...

I'm excited to hear what you have to say about this art piece! To me, and I am typing with one hand while holding Mont with the other, so this may not be as detailed or as grammatically correct as we would like. But (thanks for the close up shots), as far as I can see, this is a girl who probably gets most anything she wants. Either because she's an only child or her nanny is afraid of her. The girl is wearing a very summery dress while the woman is covered from head to... shin (probably toe, but I don't want to make TOO many assumptions!) in dark colors. Doe this mean it's a little chilly? In the painting the girl has fresh grapes for a snack, cast aside and getting dirty on the ground, there is a very new (would have said fresh, but that's a bit icky..) puppy who is in the arms of the woman rather than in front of a smiling girl playing with it on the ground. The woman also looks like she's trying to teach the girl or read her something and in stead of getting upset at the girl (for reasons we have to assume), she sits there with a superficial placid look. She probably doesn't want to tell this girl to be respectful for fear of losing her job.... maybe. The girl looks like she wants out of the yard; perhaps to go play with her neighborhood friends. It looks like she's the type of little girl who cannot be made happy with anything other than attention (any one other than the Nanny).

I wonder if I'm anywhere near the target? :)

Jayci said...

wait- I just read all the comments - I can't see a train! I can see somethig that looks similar to smoke. Dang it - I totally forgot the name of the painting. HA. How awfully embarrassing. But just displace the yard for the waiting area... :) The girl is waiting for a cousin who is making a special trip to see her and only her; thus the parents thought they didn't need to come. The puppy is just to show off.

Judy Anne said...

I am telling you what I think before I read all the others.
I believe this is two sisters waiting for the train. The older siser is quietly reading her book and holding her dog. The little sister got tired of eating her grapes and loving her cat, so she was playing with her cat that has just climbed up on top of her big sister's head (really look at the looks like a cat is hiding behind it). The older girl is very tolerant of this little girl and is holding real still (it is called still-life isn't it) so that her little sister can catch her cat and go back to her seat so that the big sister can finish her novel (something about vampires falling in love with mear mortals ;->).
That's my story and I am sticking to it. Now to read everyone else's story. Tah tah for now!