Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Art Review - "The Violin Maker" by William H.W. Bicknell

Today's #MuseumTourTuesday piece is one that I was unfamiliar with until a recent visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Located in a busy corridor just past the museum's entrance, this is an easy one to miss, but I'm glad I didn't.

William Bicknell studied at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, and is known more for his etchings than his paintings, yet this piece is as masterfully done as any of his contemporaries. It feels more like an American master illustration from the 1940s than a piece from the 1880s.

The figure is beautifully painted, but it's the background which I find fascinating. This artist skillfully conveys all of the tools and clutter throughout the violinist's workshop without over-rendering a single item. There is so much going on to the right of the figure, and you can sense that Bicknell had fun painting it all, but it never takes away from the central focus of the figure. This is accomplished through the tight control of value contrast within the background and the color saturation in the red of the violin that the figure holds.

"The Violin Maker" • William H. W. Bicknell • Oil on Canvas
• 1888 • 40.25" x 50"

Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2022. 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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