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Innovations in composition were expressed by high horizon lines and great sweeping landscapes behind figures, which were placed in the front-most plane of the picture. An immediacy with the viewer made these paintings a new and powerful statement in the art world of the time.
Painting outdoors presented the same problems then as now, with changing light and imperfect painting conditions. Therefore, the best light was deemed to be that of an overcast day, so that the movement of the sun would not produce great changes in light and shadow. A soft, uniform ambient light permeated the paintings of the Naturalists because of this preference, and the extended outdoor painting hours it allowed.
The Naturalists painted from life, both for their models and for their backgrounds. These were not studio creations, although many of the paintings were large and cumbersome. To allow the artist to paint such large canvases, portable glass studios were constructed, some with wood heaters for colder days, so the artist could paint in comfort away from wind and occasional rain showers.
The original painting, from which this is copied, is called The Water Carrier, and is in the collection of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH), where I first observed it. Pearce won a third place medal for the painting in the Paris Salon of 1883, and it established him as a successful figurative artist within the Parisian circle.
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