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Sigismund - William Hogarth. Canvas, oil
The magnificent rococo painting depicts a young woman in lush, spectacular robes, sitting at a small curly table with a marble top and rich wood carvings. In the background are large architectural elements in the form of flat faceted columns or portal parts. The rest of the background is fragments of drapery made of heavy dark fabrics collected in a semicircle. They form a spectacular foundation of a dense, saturated color, on which the light skin and golden curls of a woman seem simply luminous.
A young, secular beauty sits with her elbows resting on a tall jewelry box on the table. With the same hand, she lightly touches her face, resting on the cheek. With the other hand, the woman presses a gold, embossed vase, the lid of which lies right there on the table, casually turned upside down.
The outwardly peaceful picture actually turns out to be an image of an extremely tragic event - the beautiful Sigismund, having learned that her lover is unfaithful to her, decides to take her own life and drinks poison. So the moment when Sigismund has just taken poison is captured on the canvas.
An expression of grief and despair froze in her large, dark eyes. Lush and rich clothes, a scarlet silk skirt, a blue-violet upper part of the dress and voluminous sleeves of a white lower shirt, gathered at the elbows, set off her pale skin, which itself seems marble against their rich, colorful background. Even the white veil of the veil is not so light as to compete with the skin of the dying Sigismund.
The girl’s clothes clearly indicate her noble origin. The rich finishes and heavy silk fabrics were inaccessible to any class except the highest. The girl’s outfit is luxurious, but her jewelry is even richer. A massive gold bracelet adorns a thin wrist, and beads or a diadem are woven into the hair. However, even a prosperous life and belonging to high society did not save her from the most severe disappointment in love.
As far as Hogarth was successful as an author of engravings, his experiments in historical painting were so unsuccessful. Even with this excellent picture, an unpleasant incident happened. The customer categorically did not like it, and he flatly refused to pay for it. The artist lost 400 guineas, but the canvas remained in his ownership and successfully survived to this day.