Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"The Lie"

The Lie by Felix Vallotton

It's not often that I'm totally taken by a painting but a few years ago, we saw the Cone Collection from the Baltimore Museum of Art when it toured through our undisclosed location. While the main focus was on the works of some guys named Matisse and Picasso, this work by lesser-known Felix Vallotton is the one that caught my eye. And I've been obsessed with it ever since.

It was painted in 1897 but it could've just as easily been a scene staged today. A man and woman, intimately entwined on a sofa. I love imagining what Vallotton's intent was with the figures in this image, especially given the title of Le Mensonge (The Lie).

It's easy to assume the woman is lying - he appears to be listening while she whispers something in his ear. But perhaps he is the one deceiving her as he glances away; maybe she is whispering words of trust and love and he is thinking of the way he has tricked her.

What is the lie about? Is one of them cheating? Some speculate the woman is pregnant. Is he the father?

I also love the various reds used here - the color used to signify passion and anger. The darker colors of the man and the flowers (that maybe he brought to her as a gift?) are another reason I like to think Vallotton was indicating the man as the dishonest player.

What do you see? How do you interpret this image?

Also, will you track down a print and buy it for me? This would look amazing in my living room but Joe doesn't seem too keen on having a piece about lying hanging above the mantle.


WeaselMomma said...

My immediate impression is that the woman is pregnant, The man is her husband, but not the father (unknown to him).

C. Beth said...

I think it's beautiful. I'd have to take more time to think about it before coming up with an interpretation. I love it.