The Call To Dinner Essay

1417 words - 6 pages

The Call to Dinner was painted from 1886 to 1887 by George Agnew Reid. The painting is an oil on canvas and is large scale, measuring 48 inches in height and 71 inches in length. Reid’s paintings were often large and it was said “one canvas could dominate a room crowded with people.” Early in his artistic career, Reid became known for his genre scenes. Genre painting depicts scenes from everyday life. In The Call to Dinner, the use of oil paint allows Reid to emphasize the principles of genre painting while permitting the enhancement of realism and naturalism within the composition.
In oil painting, ground pigment is mixed with linseed or walnut oil. The oil creates a smooth sheen over the surface of the painting. Finished in 1887, it is most likely that linseed oil was used as a base for the pigment due to the limited amount of cracking seen today. The benefits presented by oil paint include a slow drying time, which allows for increased flexibility and subtly in colour mixing and blending. Also, oil paint can be applied thicker than other mediums, such as tempera.
The focal point of the scene is the woman calling out into the distance. The subject of the painting appears to stand in arrested motion. The lips of the woman appear parted suggesting the action of speech. The woman is depicted wearing a greyish-blue dress, white apron, red scarf and a straw hat. The woman is holding the brim of her hat with her left hand, indicating the potential force of wind on the figures within the scene. Her hat is painted in fine detail. Reid uses short, thick brush strokes to imitate the weaves of the hat, creating realistic texture. The building up of consistent layers of oil paint creates the porcelain like texture of the woman’s skin. Shades and hues of colour are blended to create natural and realistic folds of fabric on the woman’s dress and apron. Visible brush strokes on the red scarf indicate movement. The sleeves of the dress stop above the woman’s elbow, and numerous folds and creases in the fabric signify they are rolled. A delicate diamond pattern, painted using thin brush strokes, decorate the dress. Similarly, the scarf is decorated in repeated circles. Seams of the dress and form fitted bodice are created by thin, continuous lines. In the woman’s apron and dress, the movement of the brush strokes extenuate the curvature of the body. Her right hand is out of view behind the pleats in the dress. The movement and bunching of the dress and apron on the right side suggest the woman is holding up the hem of her skirt with her right hand. Her hair is short or pinned beneath her hat and the hair visible consists of delicate curls, created through quick, light brush strokes. Reid’s realism is emphasized through minute details. The woman’s clothing appears to be well worn. Along the edge of the scarf are several rips and tears suggesting heavy wear. A differentiation in colour tone along the seam of the dress’s shoulder is also used to signify...

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