Thursday, August 20, 2020

First Reading, Second Reading

Jan Verhas (1834-1896) The Lion

In a painting, you've just got just one image to tell the story. But you can design it so that the viewer begins to receive one impression, and then switch to a different impression after a moment or two. This is called the first reading and the second reading.
In this picture, I'm aware of myself reacting that way as I decode the image over the first two seconds. "There's a lady with kid reaching up....The kid is scared...Oh! There's a crouching did he get in that house?....Oh, I see, it's a lion rug, and her little brother is under it, pulling a prank."

To carry off this narrative device, Belgian realist painter Jan Verhas had to make sure the viewer recognized the snarling lion before the boy's face.
Related post: "Invite and Delight"


Susan Krzywicki said...

Wow, a whole new concept to learn about. So, how does the eye movement thing work here? Are we intentionally being directed? It would be cool to have this painting tested the way you have shown us others in the past.

And, how much planning and fiddling did the artist go through in order to get it right?

markmors said...

That is a very successful picture. My thoughts mirrored yours exactly!