Saturday, October 17, 2015
KENSETTIANA: "Passing off of the storm" by Kensett contains no colour accents. The single figure lounging in the foreground boat partakes of the limited palette of the whole: white, green-umber, and steel-gray blue. Equally striking is the painting's sparse composition. No proscenium or even side extensions interfere with the flat expanse of water painted across the canvas. By dividing the scene into three bands -- calm water, steely sky, and scumbled clouds -- Kensett endows this view with an extraordinary horizontality. Unity is maintained by Kensett's use of the same gray-blue paint in sea and sky. Yet he achieves subtle shifts in light by applying the paint more thinly at the sky's horizon, thereby revealing more of the warm underground. Contributing as well to the picture's harmonious repose is Kensett's inclusion of multiple minute events on the water rather than the bold landmarks that visually dominate his non-Connecticut scenes. There are no hulking cliffs, large boulders, conspicuous boat, or multicoloured figures that gesture or cast shadows here.