Today's "Ball" selection is a work by Dutch painter Frederik Henrdik Kaemmerer. In this scene a picturesque woman in masquerade costume views herself in the mirror before heading out for the evening.
This beautiful piece made a strong first impression on me, but upon my second and third viewing the woman's arms registered as unnaturally long, obviously exaggerated for effect. Whether or not this exaggeration was intentional, an extra inch or two makes all the difference. Kaemmerer's rendering of her figure is both elegant and idealized, but those arms, particularly the left which helps create the focal point of this work, is where I must drop any suspension of disbelief that the artist provided a faithful recording of the scene, assuming it was taken from reality at all. The subject no longer seemed striking and beautiful because her rendering was so glaringly artificial.
But should I let this affect my enjoying of this piece? Art history is full of celebrated works which are renowned for their deliberate lack of anatomical realism. Arms of uneven length. A few extra vertebrae. To some extent all works could be deemed artifical, designed for the consumption of whatever audience the creator had in mind.