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Christopher T.

Calhoun
April 27th, 2014
Student Number: 0004619366
Class Number:
201403-02

Full  Sail  University  

Graphic  Design  Bachelor  of  Science  Degree  
Program  –  online  

 
Rachel  Fugate  
Art  History  

Visual Analysis
The oil painting titled, The Sisters is the
subject of this visual analysis. Abbott H.
Thayer created the painting during 1884.
(Brooklyn Museum)i
The style of the
painting appears similar to one of the
Realism period.
The painting is shallowly saturated and
composed of ranges of color mostly close to
brown and green, spanning from as dark as
possible to very light, somewhat away from
white. The two females featured in the
painting form the painting’s subjects. Their
dress is very dark, extending from darkness,
transitioning, forming a shape in front of the
background that becomes lighter in value
along the painting’s height. Their faces and
arms are most accentuated, as being of the
painting’s lightest color values.
The
painting has a grainy texture and softly
transitioning bands of color. The women
occupy and contrast a balanced area of
positive space against the negative void of
the background.

 

(Thayer,  1884)

Artist:  
Painting  Title:  
Date  and  Period:  
 

ii  

 

Abbott  H.  Thayer  
The  Sisters  
1884,  Realism  

The composition of the painting is an
arrangement of its elements; the perceivable layers of the painting are positioned in a
hierarchy of distance. The furthest woman is less exposed to the atmospheric light, and
then the background is even darker. The furthest woman’s face and the nearest woman’s
hands align closely with the rule of thirds. The furthest woman’s hand is extended to
near the left border, while the nearest woman leans slightly in the opposite direction,
presenting a balance of weight. Both women appear to be looking through something,
such as a window or mirror. The women appear to be contemplating what they are
observing. The furthest woman appears to be somewhat consoling.
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The painting creates somewhat of a sfumato  effect,  however  rough  strokes  and  bands  
of   color   imply   definite   lines.     This   effect   in   combination   with   the   painting   appearing  
grainy   seems   to   be   inspired   by   photographs.     Images   captured   on   film   can   have   a  
heavy  grain  and  various  visual  artifacts  captured  as  an  effect  of  the  nature  of  light  
and  lenses,  or  film  development  errors  and  imperfections.  
 
The   notion   of   such   a   photographic-­‐inspired   atmosphere   in   combination   with   the  
paintings   two   subjects   (similar   appearing   sisters),   the   exact   position   of   the   two  
subjects,   and   the   lighting   scheme   (especially   the   furthest   woman’s   lesser   color  
values)  causes  the  painting  to  appear  as  if  it  could  possible  be  showing  a  woman’s  
reflection   in   a   mirror,   although   it   is   apparently   not.     However,   this   all   gives   the  
painting   an   uncanny   element   for   the   viewer   upon   a   first   or   fleeting   view,   perhaps  
augmented  by  the  painting’s  subjects  possibly  looking  in  a  mirror,  themselves.    All  
these   elements   and   perceptions   of   the   painting   could   be   intentionally   involved  
around  the  concepts  of  two  sisters  having  very  similar  physical  appearances,  them  
looking   at   each   other,   them   looking   in   mirrors,   them   looking   at   each   other   in  
mirrors.    A  whole  concept  of  similar  looking,  related  people,  and  how  they  view  each  
other  and  themselves  is,  for  me,  contained  in  this  artwork.
Examining this painting thoroughly has enhanced my perception of it. Understanding the
concepts of art and art history has allowed me to realize the various attributes and
definable nuances of the artwork, and then communicate such as a visual analysis by
textually articulating the aspects of the painting. Using known and established concepts
to communicate one’s analysis of a visual artwork allows others to understand my
perceptions of the artwork. Also, had I not been prompted to so thoroughly study a
particular painting, I may have never come to my realization about what I perceive the
painting to be actually showing, which could possibly be an intention of the artist,
Thayer. I find the painting to communicate the feelings of its pictured subjects, sisters, as
they view each other, their selves, and their selves in each other, and this concept existing
among the implication of actual physical mirrors. It’s something a bit escaping to
describe, which is why it’s a fine subject to be communicated via a visual image.

Works Cited:
i

Brooklyn Museum. (n.d.). Collections: American Art: The Sisters. Retrieved April 27,
2014, from Brooklyn Museum:
https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/459/The_Sisters/image/5110/
image

ii

Thayer, A. H. (1884). Retrieved from Brooklyn Museum:
http://cdn2.brooklynmuseum.org/images/opencollection/objects/size4/35.1068_SL1.jpg
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