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Adolphe Monticelli, Subject Composition

Key facts
Full title Subject Composition
Artist Adolphe Monticelli
Artist dates 1824 - 1886
Date made probably 1870-86
Medium and support Oil on wood, probably mahogany
Dimensions 19.1 × 42.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented as part of the 'Harry Wearne Collection of Twelve Paintings by Monticelli' to the Tate Gallery, 1939; transferred, 1956
Inventory number NG5010
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Subject Composition
Adolphe Monticelli

Four women dressed in colourful Renaissance-style costumes are shown standing below what may be a vine. On the reverse of the panel is another image of a standing woman. The exact subject of this picture has not been identified. This is not surprising, since in Monticelli’s late career his technique had evolved to the point where his subject matter was subsidiary to colour and surface texture.

Comparison with other works executed by Monticelli between 1877 and 1880, such as Subject Composition, which is also in the National Gallery’s collection, allows us to date the picture to the late 1870s. Like the latter picture, this one is very thickly painted: up to five layers of paint can be detected, and few areas of the panel are left uncovered.

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