Look carefully at this woman, outfitted in her expensive silk satin gown with its delicate lace sleeves. Note her expensive pearl jewelry. Study her face. It has an upside down triangle with widely spaced eyes, a long nose with a bulbous end, a small mouth, and a definitive sharp chin. It’s a remarkably homely combination. Don’t get me wrong, I’m mad about the Countess’ visage. I truly am. Eduard Robert Bary has done a superb job of capturing her sweetness. This is no idealized representation. It is an expression of her character and individualism. I love when artists paint people as they actually look. If teeth are bad, chins jut and noses dominate, so what? Paint people as they were. Put roses in their hair, silk on their body and gold on their fingers. Then hang them on a wall so they can peer down at us through the ages.
There is very little online regarding Countess Olga Charlotte or Eduard Robert Bary. askArt offers this brief biography: Eduard Robert Bary (1813-1875) began his artistic training at the academies in Dresden and Dusseldorf, which was followed by a longer stay in Rome (1840-1843) thanks to a scholarship. In 1849, he became a teacher at the Academy of Arts in Dresden, where he was appointed a professor of history painting in 1853.
Liveauctioneers.com offers this description of the portrait: The painting depicts the three-quarter portrait of Charlotte Marie Olga Countess zu Solms and Tecklenburg (1842-1912) and was created around 1850 by the German painter Edward Robert Bary, who was her brother-in-law. The young Countess is presented in a green silk dress and adorned with classic pearl jewelry. In her right hand, she holds a fan, while she plays with the gold chain of her medallion in her left hand. The painting appears in delicate colors with an interesting play of complementary contrasts occurring due to the red roses in the sitter’s hair and the red backrest upholstery of her chair. The work probably comes from the collection of Carl Friedrich Adolph von Köllers, who the Countess married in 1865.
Today’s List of Links
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Today’s Musical Selection: