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The Portraits of Emily Graves Williston and Miss Kelly

            One of my favorite writers, Echo Chan, ended her life with a pair of silk stockings at the age of 47, in the hopes of making time stop in the prime of her life. She was so narcissistic that she used such an extremely drastic way to prevent time from tainting and corroding her beauty. In contrast with this peculiar Asian lady, Mrs. Williston and Miss Kelly employed painters to leave their ideal image in portraiture. Painters - almost from the same time period in the 19th century- treat time as the catalyst for their art, rather than the chronic torture of beauty. Women such as Emily Graves Williston and Miss Kelly, who were at different ages, project a distinct and particular charm that exclusively belongs to their stage in life. These two images convey the beauty of stillness versus liveliness through the painter's use of composition, color, and texture. Both artists strive to preserve these women's timeless beauty on canvas. .
             In the first image, the woman sitting in front of us is Mrs. Williston, quiet and dignified. She is put carefully into an oval frame without any evidence of awkwardness or uncomfortableness. The elliptical frame corresponding to her rounded forehead and mantilla displays a sense of gentle regularity. Such regularity, acting like a wave eddying from her head, entangles us into the depth of the portrait. What moves us most is the feeling of familiarity from the woman. Her head and slightly tilted shoulders compose an equilateral triangle, extending along her arms on both sides to bottom corners. Her inner blouse near the neck forms another downward triangle, which is not strictly symmetric. The deliberate collision of perfection and asymmetry emphasizes the air of informality, which allows us to approach the portrait even more. There is a long straight line along the right of her neckline, giving more drawing space on her right side and presenting the woman with appropriate posture.

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