Pierre Bonnard - Narrow Street in Paris (ca. 1897)
Walter Frederick Roofe Tyndale - Water-Melon Seller (1912)
Today's selections, 'Narrow Street in Paris' by French painter and printmaker Pierre Bonnard and 'Water-Melon Seller' by English painter Walter Frederick Roofe Tyndale, share similar vertical orientations in addition to showing people occupying tight spaces within urban environments. It's interesting to watch them navigate around these towering man-made constructs, which for me conjures to mind old photographs of explorers dwarfed by massive trees in the wild frontier. For newcomers the city can be an exciting place, with new discoveries around every other corner, however this setting is not without its limitations, particularly if one enjoys their personal space.
Both paintings use buildings at their right and left sides to squeeze the action toward the center, providing a very limited route of travel for their occupants. These are dense urban spaces, emphasized by the artists' tight framing of the subject matter. I'm sure that to some folks this environment is ideal, preferring the energy and fast pace of the city—even a scene such as in ‘Water-Melon Seller’—while other people, finding themselves cheek to jowl with their neighbors, would quickly feel constrained within these surroundings. To each their own.
Between these two works, I'm partial to 'Water-Melon Seller,' just for its handsome illustration qualities. That's certainly a tight alleyway. 'Narrow Street,' on the other hand, lacks the intimate quality of 'Seller, presenting its scene from a distant, bird's eye view which effectively captures the surrounding buildings.