While watching the mini series, the cinematography, setting, and blocking also struck a chord with my art history junkie self...
This moment taken from the show, reminds me tremendously of a painting I have studied numerous times by the British painter, Thomas Gainsborough. Gainsborough started as a landscape artist, but evolved to include human elements. Gainsborough is mostly known for his portraiture, and was recognized for being a lead painter of the Grand Manner of Portraiture, which elevated the sitter by demonstrating elegance and the all important quality of refinement.
|Gainsborough, Mr and Mrs. Andrews, 1748-49|
|Gainsborough, Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1787|
Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin.
|Lorrain, A Sunset or Landscape with Argos Guarding Io|
Even the foliage of the park repeats the same kinds of brush strokes present in the Impressionist works of Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir.
|Monet, Madame Monet|
|Renoir, Bal au Moulin de la Galette, 1876|
The subject matter and composition however made me think of....
|Caillebotte, Paris: A Rainy Day, 1877|
|Seurat, Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-86|
These paintings epitomize the kind of leisure time of the upper classes, during a time of industrial revolution. Though the clothing is more old fashioned in the paintings than in the still from Downton Abbey, there is still a kind of familiarity between the two, creating an even closer resemblance. The couple in Caillebotte's piece is just walking, taking in the scenery of a more modern and urbanized Paris, like the two women in the still, meandering through the park, wasting time in their aristocratic lives. The people pictured in Seurat's Pointalist, Post- Impressionist style painting, are escaping from the hectic and chaotic city, on a vacation day, similar to the two ladies strolling through a park in the middle of a growing London. Even though they do not compositionally look the same, when I was watching the show, I thought first to La Grande Jatte, just because of its colors and the content of the piece, as well as the umbrellas.
These examples only emphasize that film is like a moving painting, and every moment and angle counts even though to the viewer it is continuous. I think this is also relevant to paintings, as a painter expects the viewer to imagine what happens before and what follows the moment they have decided to depict. I find that period dramas very much play into created art historical time lines, mainly because they are set in times that are not currently our own, as many of the great art works that have been studied and continued to be admired are.
I am going to warn you right now... Downton Abbey, will not be the last "period drama" I write about. They are just one of those things... I relish. xx