Today’s selection is ‘The Coppersmith,’ a wonderful environmental portrait by American painter Edgar Melville Ward. Delicately holding the kettle to the window light, our tradesman examines the piece for imperfections. Observing him absorbed by this simple item, I would imagine he takes solace in his work. His serious expression communicates his thorough attention for detail and admiration for his own craftsmanship. Mined from the earth, copper provides him his trade and operates as a means of expression, and there’s something harmonious about him using the natural light from the window to inspect new his creation.
Ward also provides a fine rendering of the coppersmith’s workspace. Full of rustic tools and devoid of unnecessary detraction, we can tell this tradesman performs his work solemnly, focusing his attention on the task at hand to achieve the highest quality product. He takes pride in his work and enjoys it as his passion.
Subject aside, I also enjoy this piece for its aesthetic qualities. The point of the anvil is made prominent by use of the shadow from the fallen paper in the background. The mallet is angled elegantly against the lower-right frame of the frame. And all the tools and various project found on the workbench give ‘The Coppersmith’ a special credibility, as if taken from first-hand observation. All these elements in Ward’s painting feel very precise, though the scene maintains the sort of natural quality one might associate with a snapshot.
Details behind the cut.