Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Masqueraders

The Masqueraders by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, 1875
When the calendar rolls around to February, we all feel a little need to cut loose.We enjoyed Christmas, with it's goodwill and charity and presents and parties. We dutifully returned to ordinary life in January. Now it is February and we have just remembered that winter is long and spring is far away. It's time for a party. Fortunately, there are already a few holidays scheduled including Valentines Day and Mardi Gras. Oh, and don't forget Fasching.

I think this painting is perfect for any February need. It has a pretty young couple madly flirting with each other. It has costumes, very restrained hedonism and genteel abandon.

The painter was European (Spanish); the painting was bought by a wealthy American. We don't really know where the scene is taking place but, again, this is an all-purpose scene. It could be taking place in  an American  mansion or Parisian casino or Viennese ballroom.

The gentleman is dressed as a landsknecht. You have to commend his willingess to commit to the full outfit, including floppy hat and silly shoes.. After all, when Mrs Oelrichs held her famous White Ball in 1904 Newport, most of her male guests simply refused to get into costume.

The young lady must also be impressed. She is dressed as a generic shepherdess. Her hair is powdered as a nod to the eighteenth century. She has a mask that hides her identity but not her beauty. Her skirt is short enough to show off her trim ankles and pretty shoes. Her bodice is not any less modest than a ballgown bodice would be, but the situation allows her to get a little outrageous. The fact that she has been taking refreshments means that she isn't wearing her gloves. Her hand flutters in front of her decolletage and her eyes sparkle.

Yes, this painting is perfect if you've been longing for a little February fling.

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