The Utilization of Color in Lady Audley’s secret BLOG POST #1 Irwin

“Yes, the painter must have been a pre-Raphaelite. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have painted, hair by hair, those feathery masses of ringlets, with every glimmer of gold, and every shadow of pale brown. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have so exaggerated every attribute of that delicate face as to give a lurid brightness to the blonde complexion, and a strange, sinister light to the deep blue eyes. No one but a pre-Raphaelite could have given to that pretty pouting mouth the hard and almost wicked look it had in the portrait. It was so like, and yet so unlike. It was as if you had burned strange-colored fires before my lady’s face, and by their influence brought out new lines and new expressions never seen in it before. The perfection of feature, the brilliancy of coloring, were there; but I suppose the painter had copied quaint mediaeval monstrosities until his brain had grown bewildered, for my lady, in his portrait of her, had something of the aspect of a beautiful fiend. Her crimson dress, exaggerated like all the rest in this strange picture, hung about her in folds that looked like flames, her fair head peeping out of the lurid mass of color as if out of a raging furnace. Indeed the crimson dress, the sunshine on the face, the red gold gleaming in the yellow hair, the ripe scarlet of the pouting lips, the glowing colors of each accessory of the minutely painted background, all combined to render the first effect of the painting by no means an agreeable one.” (Chapter 8)

In this excerpt from chapter eight George Talboys is examining the portrait of Lady Audley, analyzing in detail the features and feeling that the image provokes from him. In the first sentence George notes that the painter must have been a pre- Raphaelite. A pre- Raphaelite, were a group of painters who returned to renaissance style painting which focused on detail and the utilization of bright, vibrant colors. One of the main reoccurring themes in this excerpt was the way Talboy’s speaks about how the color and detail in the portrait evokes a sense of uneasiness. This starts when he speaks about the contrast in color of the hair in the Portrait. He compares the gold to the shadow of the pale brown. Talboys continues with this theme when he describes her eyes in the portrait, the dark deep blue eyes although beautiful in art come across as sinister and wicked due to the combination of different colors in the portrait. Another theme that I noticed was the repeating mention of red in the description. In the second half of the excerpt the color red or images that you associate with the color is brought up numerous times. The crimson dress that looked like flames, the red gold gleam, and the ripe scarlet lip all remind me of a dark red color. Traditionally I associate the color red with evil and darkness, by constantly using this color I believe the author was trying to foreshadow the wickedness of Lady Audley as well as to reinforce the uneasiness that many characters feel when being around her.

Although the portrait was beautifully constructed in an artistic sense, Talboys can’t help but feel thrown off by the image. The use of these colors in the portrait creates an uncomfortable aura around Lady Audley that sets the tone for her character as the novel moves forward. Despite the natural beauty of Lady Audley this portrait and its utilization of color make it clear that something sinister lurks behind her beauty.

One thought on “The Utilization of Color in Lady Audley’s secret BLOG POST #1 Irwin”

  1. I think you spot an excellent theme going on in these passages here. It was also one of the defining moments that set up Lady Audley’s character and is consistent throughout the novel. Your analysis of the color red indicating something sinister also definitely ties in well with the concept of “Femme Fatale” we talked in class where a female’s sexuality and beauty disguises the evil seduction and motives.

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