A&O ANECDOTE – Turner’s Smudge

A&O Anecdote: Turner’s smudge: 

In 1832, John Constable prepared The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, a painting on which he worked for years, for a show at the Royal Academy.  It would hang near J.M.W. Turner’s Helvoetsluys, (1817) a serene seascape (nice article in the Guardian). It was common to check the display of paintings at the last minute, and when Turner saw his work in place he quickly painted a small red buoy in the middle of his canvas. (discussed in Richard Lewis (2014), blog: http://lewisartcafe.com/mr-turner-a-new-film-and-the-varnishing-day-incident/ )  

But where exactly to place an element?  Of course relative proportions are important (human faces relative to Phi, waist-to-hip ratios, symmetry, etc;   the placement of the red chop seals on Asian works of art) 


  • to beauty marks (https://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/sexy-face-stickers/ : “… in the late 16th century,” Chrisman-Campbell continues, “people started wearing black patches not to cover something up but rather to show something off. The contrast was thought to make the skin look beautiful and to draw attention to certain parts of the face, like the eyes.” One might place a small black circle on one’s cheek, and maybe another crescent over an eyebrow—just enough to offset the ivory pallor of a face in full makeup. /  Unlike our modern concept of realistic, discreet beauty marks, these patches were designed to stand out, playing to the Renaissance ideals of visibly enhanced beauty. Made from black silk taffeta or velvet, patches were often sold with an adhesive backside of resin-based mastic, though they could also be stuck on with saliva. Most patches were simple round dots, but some were cut into intricate shapes of small crescent moons, diamonds, or stars.”)
  • tracking the gaze