The Song of the Lark

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The French 1884 oil on canvas painting The Song of the Lark by Jules-Adolphe Breton draws grasps a viewer’s attention. It draws an observer in by its intense but subtle subject matter and by the luminous sun in the background. Without the incandescent sun and the thoughtful look of the young woman, it would just be a bland earth-toned farm landscape. However, Breton understood what to add to his painting in order to give it drama that would instantly grab an onlooker’s interest.

The focus of the painting is a young woman, most likely in her late teens or early twenties. She works in the fields with her farming tool in hand and a bandana keeping her hair back. One can tell her is of modest means by her simple and somewhat ragged clothing and also by her lack of shoes. The girl is on her way to work, passing through a withered field on the outskirts of a small town, when she glances up to look at the lark singing its morning song. Although the lark is not portrayed in the painting, the deep gaze of the girl shows that she is mesmerized by this simple joy.

The background image is a sunrise over a small village. The sun stands out from the earthy tones of the rest of the background. It looks as if it was colored in with a pink highlighter. The pure radiance of the sunrise captures the attention of bystander. The luminosity of the sun is surrounded by a yellow skyline with brown houses of the rural community below it. Surrounding the houses is a field of green grass, but as you follow the path that the girl is on the lush carpet of healthy grass turns into a withered field. This shows that the crops where the girl works have not produced enough food for that season, making the girl short on income. The ...

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...ause the look of curiosity of the girl extends beyond the frame. This gives the painting a sense of curiosity.

When first approaching this work, one feels immediately attracted to its sense of wonder and awe. The bright colors used in the sun draws a viewer in, but the astonishment, fascination, and emotion depicted in the expression on the young woman keeps them intrigued in the painting. It reaches out to those who have worked hard in their life and who look forward to a better future. Even a small event such as a song of a lark gives them hope that there will be a better tomorrow, a thought that can be seen though the countenance by this girl. Although just a collection of oils on a canvas, she is someone who reaches out to people and inspires them to appreciate the small things that, even if only for a short moment, can make the road ahead seem brighter.
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