20 Images : 5. Bathers at Asnières
All too often it is the incidental background detail of an image that can be just as interesting - or just as striking - as what appears in the foreground. My thoughts were launched in this particular direction by the incidental background detail on my last image which some of you may have noticed. In order not to dwell too long on that particular artistic obsession of a teenage boy, let me give you another example.
Above our mantle piece hangs a copy of Georges Seurat's wonderful 1884 painting "Bathers at Asnières". It has pride of place in our house as one of the very few paintings my wife and myself both like - most of the other walls remain bare due to a complex "black-balling" system which has resulted in a shortage of art and an excess of black balls. Some time ago, we were explaining this situation to friends and I happened to say that what I particularly liked about it was the incorporation into the scene of all the factories and chimneys and railway bridges. My dear wife accused me of going gaga, insisting that it was a charming picture of some young bathers by a lovely river. We were, of course, both correct: she had focused on the foreground whilst I had focused on the background: one had seen the beauty of nature, the other the beauty of manufactured grandeur.