Monday, March 23, 2015

Othello Relating His Battles (1857)

Alexandre Cabanel: Othello Relating His Adventures

Othello Relating his Adventures does not illustrate a scene from Shakespere’s play, but rather an event Othello describes in a speech in scene 3 of Act 1. In the event described, he relates the story of his life from year to year: his battles, sieges and fortunes that he has encountered. Cabanel shows him in the midst of his narration, leaning on the balustrade of a Venetian palazzo’s marble portico. He wears Moorish clothing and stands with his right arm outstretched and his left resting on the hilt of a long sword. Desdemona, seated on embroidered pillows, listens to him enraptured, leaning on the knee of her father, Brabantio, who gazes upward at Othello. The costumes, rug and draperies are luxurious. The color is warm and sumptuous. Hidden from their sight in the lower left is the malevolent Iago, intently listening to Othello’s narrative. The design leads the eye from Othello to the figure of Desdemona and her father and then down to Iago. Desdemona’s light drapery makes a beautiful pattern that catches the eye and leads it back to Othello. Unfortunately, the light on Othello’s lower left leg is too pronounced for its place in the shadow and distracts from the figure of Desdemona. [Stephen Gjertson Galleries]

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