Thursday, 16 June 2011



,,,and then there’s the title - in quotation marks. It has a tangy, witty flavour. A phrase from a comic turn at the music hall? Or it it words wrung out of a parent to a child who has persisted in the battle to go out to play or have an ice cream long enough to win? 

But this is no trivial matter. this digital C-type print is a strikingly remodelled version of Jean Frederic Schall's The Suitor Accepted ( see below), painted in 1788. It references a binding decision as to marital intentions, 

Our hero in Maisie Broadhead’s beautifully tinted picture shows off his lively calves in stockings which end in trainers, and his finely cut jacket would not look out of place in Canary Wharf.  The three models have the uncanny look of having just come from a photo shoot for a glossy Sunday supplement. The eye searches for other contemporary insertions. The carpet is patterned with a brick wall. An exquisite china tea cup on the right is balanced on a cut glass stand like an interior design feature. It's almost a chalice. Suddenly you are aware that the elegant dog is staring back at you, the viewer, so you almost feel apologetic for giving the picture your close scrutiny.
This parody is in Rococo style, favoured by (mainly)  French artists of the  18C. The style is marked by elegant and ornate furniture, lavish drapery, mirrors and tapestries. Sometimes it carries a narrative, sometimes it takes a snapshot of a highly improbable event. It’s been called frivolous, even modish – but others say it's the champion of sensuous vitality. Reality painting it is not. Maisie Broadhead is one of six artists displaying at the Medici Gallery’s exhibition The Influence of Historicism,  a show full of surprises: portraits in oil, still life, sculpture in bronze and marble, architectural interiors and what appear to be Rococo/Baroque paintings – none of them quite what you expect.The whole exhibition challenges notions of what is real and what is fake. First impressions really do not count. 

Maisie Broadhead’s first reputation was as an outstanding jeweller. Her website gives an indication of the range of her work.

Jean Frederic Schall's The Suitor Accepted 

 Maisie Broadhead's work makes an interesting contrast with Tom Hunter's work. He won the John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award in 1998 with his iconic Woman reading a Possession Order, a take on Johannes Vermeer’s A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window,1647-9. He  talks candidly about photography sometimes being like an act of prayer, a moment of suspense and concentration,  timeless, allowing the atmosphere to pour in. I wrote about his work in Blog 46

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