The umbrellas of

Geraldine said she was a fan of the brolly in art on the Caillebotte post below; I asked what were her top umbrella paintings and as a consequence the blog is proud to host this mini dissertation with accompanying images:

I think it is not just the shape, or the practicality, of umbrellas which I love: it is the jauntiness of them, the way they can make a dull day brighter, the way they can include or exclude, be a shield or a backdrop. I have an ever-growing folder of about 100 umbrella pictures which appeal to me for one reason or another and I find it impossible to chose a favourite among them. There are obvious ones, like Renoir’s “Umbrellas” which is a lovely painting but I also like umbrellas which keep the sun rather than the rain off, umbrellas with children, Chinese paper umbrellas, beach umbrellas, surreal images, soaking wet misery ones, extraordinary installations, quirky useless umbrellas… The list is endless! There are some paintings of sun parasols where the extreme heat can almost be felt from the painting.

There are some which are unmistakably Irish, like the line of wet people outside Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, (painted by an American), or the woman beside the railings by Erin de Burca. The big rainbow one is the umbrella equivalent of your Bahaus pole in Berlin! I have no idea what the play was for which David R Whitney designed the wire umbrellas but I love that image, with the frames of the skirts echoing the shapes. One of my top favourites is by Jun-Pierre Shiozawa, from his East-Ouest collection, which shows three elegant oriental ladies in front of a large parsol; I like this one because the more I study it the more I see in the composition, the way lines flow through the painting, the positioning of the figures against the sections of the parasol, the off-centre shape of the circles, the off-centre placing of the ladies, the careful choice of patterns on the clothes which are all different but similar, the colour choices, the tiny show of green on the middle figure. I think this is such an elegant, sophisticated painting, I could happily live with it – but I could also live with quite a lot of the other pictures in my collection, it would be a question of changing them to suit my moods, mad colours for dull days and the wet and rainy ones for the occasional sunny day!

Waiting in the Rain, Martha Cowan

Jun-Pierre Shiozawa, from East-Ouest

Red Umbrella, Erin de Burca

Wire umbrellas, David R Whitney

Rainbow Umbrella

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2 Responses to The umbrellas of

  1. makemeadiva says:

    I like the red umbrella, but I am not licensed to carry one.

    I was listening to a bit on the radio last week about collective nouns. I wondered if there was one for umbrellas. A quick surf found these suggestions: a loss of umbrellas and a phalanx of umbrellas. I prefer the first but I cannot help wondering if there would be a better one out there…

  2. Ovookla says:

    Thanks for collating these and putting them on the blog. Did Renoir’s ‘Les Parapluies’ start you on this route? I love seeing the actual painting, which is sometimes in London and sometimes Dublin, as part of the Hugh Lane thing, but I am so tired of the reproductions of it. These are a stimulating broadening of that field, but I like the Wire Umbrellas the best, it’s emblematic in an emotive way. Well, for me anyway.

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