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Picturing a World

Sergeant, not Sargent

Blog tip: This morning’s GurneyJourney post on Meissonier’s Sergeant sets me musing on the parallels between novels about novelists and pictures of artists at work. If I come up with anything worth writing down, you’ll see it here!

Meanwhile, what strikes me most at first glance is how marvelously detailed the uniforms are; they look hand-sewn instead of machine-made. Meissonier was famous for his attention to detail and you can see why. Historical novelists, take note!

Second, this is a good illustration of the genre painting that has a bit of narrative implicit.

Third, the dog is where things go wrong for me. Its eyebeam is a subtle structural element to emphasize focus on the posing sergeant, and I suppose a well-trained dog might sit staring like that if commanded; but the chuckle it elicits when its devotion is noticed tips it over into the sentimental. Still, I suppose it adds one more attitude to the several depicted—I love the slouching soldier who is studying the artist’s sketch-in-progress.
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