Angular Composition, The Line Of Beauty And The Rectangle
( Originally Published 1903 )
IN angular composition the return of the eye over its course, as in circular observation, is practically eliminated. While the circle and ellipse offer a succession of items and events, one the sequence of the other, so that the vision concludes like a boomerang, angular composition sends a shaft direct, with no return.
Here the pleasure of reverie through an endless chain must be exchanged for the stimulation of a shock, for force by concentration, for ruggedness at the expense of elegance.
Pure triangular composition is a form rarely seen, as in most cases where the lines of the triangle are detected as the first conception, other lines or points have been added to destroy or modify them.
Jacque has been successful in the management of what is considered a difficult form. In the herder with cattle although we feel in the next moment the subject will have passed, while it lasts the artist has kept the eye upon it by the use of dark figures at either end and a concentration of light in the centre ; also by the presence of the tree in the distance which turns the eye into the picture as it leaves the cow on the right.
Another example more complete as a composition is his famous " Shepherd and Sheep," in which the angle is formed by the dark dog at the extreme right, the lines expanding through the figure of the shepherd and thence above into a group of trees and below along the edge of the flock. In this example the base line runs into the picture by perspective and thence back into the picture to the trees.
The "Departure for the Chase," by Cuyp, shows an unsuccessful use of this shape.
In " The Path of the Surf," the main form—the surf—is a triangle and the two supporting spaces triangles. Such a construction is particularly stable, as these focalize on the line of interest. Some artists construct most of their pictures in a series of related triangles. The writer calling upon Henry Bacon found him painting a group of transatlantic travellers on a steamer's deck. He pointed out a scheme of triangles which together formed one great triangle, but said he was looking for the last point for the base of this. A monthly magazine was suggested, which, laid open on its face, proved le dernier clou.