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Old June 9 2009, 04:19 AM   #1
Goliath
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Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

I would like to purchase a print for my office--a scene from British military history, to reflect my research interests.

But I can't decide between two paintings.

The first is The Guards at Tel El Kebir by Alphonse de Neuville, depicting Highland troops storming the Egyptian trenches at the Battle of Tel El Kebir in 1882.



The second is The First VC of the European War by Richard Caton Woodville, depicting a small cavalry action on the Western Front in 1914, before the trench lines were dug.



I realize these images aren't much to go on--the originals are of course much more impressive. But I would be grateful for any advice on which people prefer.
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Old June 9 2009, 04:26 AM   #2
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

I can't say that I'm crazy about either of them but of the two I'd choose the first one although if i had to guess I'd say I'm in the minority on that.
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Old June 9 2009, 04:41 AM   #3
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

sidious618 wrote: View Post
I can't say that I'm crazy about either of them...
They're not masterpieces, by any means. I'm interested in them mostly because of their subject matter.

Plus, I use battle paintings like these in lectures. So they're appropriate for that reason as well.

... but of the two I'd choose the first one although if i had to guess I'd say I'm in the minority on that.
Well, you're the only one who's voted so far.
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Old June 9 2009, 04:47 AM   #4
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

From a purely aesthetic perspective, the first painting. It is broader in scope and richer in color, so it makes a much stronger initial impact than does the second, which is important in an office. Also, I think it will be less limiting when coordinating your decor.
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Old June 9 2009, 05:05 AM   #5
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

I'd go for the first one too. This is going to sound silly, but I prefer the sky in the first one.
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Old June 9 2009, 05:10 AM   #6
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

thestrangequark wrote: View Post
Also, I think it will be less limiting when coordinating your decor.
Hehe. My decor? You've obviously never seen my office.

But thanks for a thoughtful response.

trampledamage wrote: View Post
I'd go for the first one too. This is going to sound silly, but I prefer the sky in the first one.
Not silly at all. It is a pretty striking dawn sky.

If I did French military history, I would go with Neuville, no question. He did some brilliant Franco-Prussian War paintings
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Old June 9 2009, 05:11 AM   #7
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

I have to say that it was the sky that drew me to the first one as well.
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Old June 9 2009, 05:14 AM   #8
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

sidious618 wrote: View Post
I have to say that it was the sky that drew me to the first one as well.
Yeah, that's one of its best features.

Of the two, the Neuville is the more naturalistic, and probably the better painting, all things considered. But I like the Woodville for its energy, and its lack of naturalism. When I lecture, I talk about the ways in which Victorian battle painters romanticized war, and the Woodville painting is a good example.
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Old June 9 2009, 05:22 AM   #9
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

thestrangequark wrote: View Post
From a purely aesthetic perspective, the first painting. It is broader in scope and richer in color, so it makes a much stronger initial impact than does the second, which is important in an office.
I too prefer the first painting. Perhaps it is just the photo, but the quality that struck me first was the darker and bleaker palette with starker contrasts. As for the subject itself, the depiction is more dynamic with soldiers mounting the wall of the trench and forging ahead nearly in unison. The second painting just seems more disordered in its action--perhaps more appropriate for an actual battle, but less compelling to me as an artwork.
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Old June 9 2009, 05:27 AM   #10
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

i preferre naval pics mayself but i agree with the others out of the two the first painting looks better.mind you if you have the money and space get both
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Old June 9 2009, 10:28 AM   #11
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

I suggest an alternative: Liberty Leading The People by Delacroix.
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Old June 9 2009, 10:37 AM   #12
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

How about something less cruel? I wouldn't want any picture of people killing each other.
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Old June 9 2009, 12:25 PM   #13
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

Tim wrote: View Post
I too prefer the first painting.
Galactic Squirral wrote: View Post
i preferre naval pics mayself but i agree with the others out of the two the first painting looks better
Looks like sidious168 should have more faith in his judgment.

mind you if you have the money and space get both
I might just do that, but I don't have the money to purchase and frame both at once.

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
I suggest an alternative: Liberty Leading The People by Delacroix.
A very stirring painting, to be sure.

But on the one hand, I wanted an image from my area of specialty, which is British, Irish, and British-Imperial history.

And on the other hand, I wanted something that was less iconic. Delacroix has plenty of fans already.
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How about something less cruel? I wouldn't want any picture of people killing each other.
An interesting question.

Neither picture strikes me as 'cruel,' though the Woodville does feature a German being gored with a lance at bottom left. In fact, like most Academic battle scenes, they're both pretty sanitized.

And violence is a feature of the history I read, the fiction I read, and the movies and shows I watch. I don't see why it shouldn't be a feature of the art I display.

I guess, when it comes down to it, I'm just less sensitive on this issue than you are.

I used to have a print of Joseph Wright's Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump in my office, but I liked that so much that I wound up taking it home and hanging it in my living room:

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Old June 9 2009, 12:36 PM   #14
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

^I've always been a fan of that picture; I find the women in the painting particularly engaging. One young woman can't bear to look, one is curious, and the third, most importantly, is an equal to the men -- she looks steadily at her peer (down at her peer, even), ready to engage him in scientific discussion.
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Old June 9 2009, 12:51 PM   #15
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Re: Need Help Choosing a Painting for My Office

Yeah, it's one of my all-time favourites.

What really speaks to me, as a professor, is the demonstrator in his academic robes, preparing to let air back into the pump and revive the bird, but looking slightly nervous, as if he's wondering if he can pull it off.
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