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BLOG | January 5 2021

A Day at the Beach

What better than a day at the beach?! Today we explore 3 iconic beach images from the art world and the feelings they evoke.

Living in the northern hemisphere, these initial dark days of January are lifted only by the remaining twinkle of the Christmas lights – left by their enthusiastic owners to shine their joy for a few days longer! If you’re living in the southern hemisphere, you are hopefully sipping piña coladas in the sun and enjoying the remainder of your holidays! Either way, we felt it was a good opportunity to share some examples of a day at the beach, represented in art. Either to inspire you for your socially distanced weekend outing – or to give hope that yes, summer WILL come again, soon… (ish!)

Pure Joy

Painted in 1922 by Pablo Picasso, this painting exudes energy, uninhibited freedom and joy! This panel was painted during what was is known as Pablo’s neoclassical period, started after his visit to Italy in 1917. However, in typical Picasso style, it does not fully conform. They are falling out of their classical dresses and are not your “classical beauties”. That said, if any painting was to sum up a feeling we all crave now, this could likely be it! Freedom to go where we want, when we want, with whom we want… without a care in the world! You can almost feel the heat on your own skin!

Ten Beaches in Art: Pablo Picasso, Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race), 1922, Musée Picasso, Paris, France - Ten Beaches in Art
Pablo Picasso, Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race), 1922, Musée Picasso, Paris, France.

Total Relaxation

After exerting ourselves in boundless joy, what would be better than to lie on the warm sand and have someone brush our hair for us?! This painting is the height of relaxation and indulgence. Swim suit drying alongside, the subject lazily enjoys the warmth of a summer’s day. Being a great admirer of Japanese prints, Degas adopted many aspects of Japanese composition and subject matter in his own works, hence the inclusion of the woman having her hair combed here, very typical in Japanese prints at the time.

Edgar Degas, Beach Scene, 1869-1870, National Gallery, London, England, UK - Ten Beaches in Art
Edgar Degas, Beach Scene, 1869-1870, National Gallery, London, England, UK.

Absolute Mischief

Ten Beaches in Art: Winslow Homer, Eagle Head, Manchester, Massachusetts (High Tide), 1870, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
Winslow Homer, Eagle HeadManchesterMassachusetts (High Tide), 1870, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

This painting brings back other memories of the beach. Less about relaxation, this is more about the mischief and messiness it can all entail! Looking at this you can really feel the salt in your hair and the sand between your toes. That sticky feeling after a frolic in the waves! On a deserted beach, with the energy of the dog and the guilty look of the girl sitting on the sand, you can only guess what might have happened. Painted in 1870, this was considered one of Homer’s most daring subjects to date. As one personality of the era declared, the women “ are exceedingly red-legged and ungainly”!

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