Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Art Review - John Grabach and J. Bond Francisco, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

For today's #MuseumTourTuesday, I'm featuring two paintings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum Luce Foundation Center For American Art. These two are side by side within the visual storage section (my apologies for the lines and glare of the glass), and share some interesting compositional similarities, yet are very different in both approach and emotional themes.

First up is John R. Grabach's loving portrait of his wife, Anna. While painted shortly before her death, there is no indication of any impending sorrow.

While the bright patterns of the blanket and the parasol immediately grab our attention, we are ultimately drawn to Anna's face. There is a certain calmness to her demeanor surrounded by the white relief of the sheets in stark contrast to the busy movement of the competing patterns.


"Morning" • John R. Grabach • ca. 1917 • Oil on Canvas • 36.125"x41.25"

J. Bond Francisco's portrait of a bedridden child differs greatly in mood from Grabach's painting, but the composition also draws us to the face of the sleeping figure.

Here, the artist uses not only the light values of the surrounding sheets, but also contrasts the color of the green wall with the redness of the boy's face to get our attention.

Unlike Anna, this boy does not appear to rest we
ll, and everything about the picture suggests a darker scenario.

"The Sick Child" • J. Bond Francisco • ca. 1893 • Oil on Canvas • 32"x48"
The level of detail in Francisco's painting is also a significant departure from Grabach's, yet both are quite painterly. Notice how skillfully the quilted pattern of the blanket is depicted.
Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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