Thursday, April 4, 2019

Brundage and Ingres

No, those are not emotional states. ("I take Brundage at your remark!" said Margaret. "I am in turn Ingres at you!" replied the Frenchman.) They are the names of artists. Margaret Brundage (1900-1976) of course drew dozens of cover illustrations for Weird Tales magazine. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) was a French painter. Whether she realized it or not, Margaret Brundage worked in a Romantic tradition. Ingres, on the other hand, was a leading Neoclassical artist who worked in reaction to Romanticism. Both, however, created fantastic scenes, including the two shown below.

I am not the one to make the connection between these two images. That distinction goes to Jacques Sadoul (1934-2013), a Frenchman and a fan of science fiction and fantasy. He may or may not have put his observation into writing, but we have it from another fan, Richard Minter (1920-2005) of North Carolina, who wrote to The Weird Tales Collector in 1978 (#4, page 12), letting us know that it was Jacques Sadoul who pointed out to him the resemblance of the Brundage drawing to the Ingres painting. I have come upon the late Mr. Minter's letter because I have finally completed my collection of The Weird Tales Collector: last month, I found the missing issue #5 in a dark, dusty room in the back of an antique mall in Nitro, West Virginia. Thank you, West Virginia.

At the left, the cover of Weird Tales for June 1933, with a drawing by Margaret Brundage illustrating "Black Colossus" by Robert E. Howard. At the right, "Jupiter et Th├ętis" by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, from 1811. The resemblance of the first image to the second is unmistakable; whether Margaret Brundage was inspired by or even swiped the painting by Ingres is another story. I suspect that this pose--the supplicant kneeling at the foot of her god and touching his mouth or chin--is rooted in the natural expressiveness of the human body and the ways that it moves and poses itself in various emotional or psychological states. In any case, Ingres is recognized as an extraordinary draftsman--just look at the folds in the drapery over his two figures--but I have never liked his distortions of human anatomy--the rubberiness and stretchiness of arms, legs, shoulders, necks, and so on. (People have skeletons, you know.) Margaret Brundage seems to have floated her figures into the scenes she drew. Ingres manipulated them--to his own artistic purposes to be sure--like he was pushing and pulling on Stretch Armstrong.

Text and captions copyright 2019 Terence E. Hanley

No comments:

Post a Comment