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Topical Vocabulary

Painters and their craft: a fashionable/self-taught/mature artist, a portrait/landscape painter, to paint from nature/memory/ imagination, to paint mythological/historical subjects, to special­ize in portraiture/still life, to portray people/emotions with mov­ing sincerity/with restraint, to depict a person/a scene of common life/the mood of..., to render/interpret the personality of..., to re­veal the person's nature, to capture the sitter's vitality/transient expression, to develop one's own style of painting; to conform to the taste of the period, to break with the tradition, to be in advance of one's time, to expose the dark sides of life, to become famous overnight, to die forgotten and penniless.

Paintings. Genres: an oil painting, a canvas, a water-colour/ pastel picture; a sketch/study; a family group/ceremonial/inti­mate portrait, a self-portrait, a shoulder/length/half-length/knee-length/full-length portrait; a landscape, a seascape, a genre/his­torical painting, a still life, a battle piece, a flower piece, a masterpiece.

Composition and drawing: in the foreground/background, in the top/bottom/left-hand corner; to arrange symmetrically/asym­metrically/in a pyramid/in a vertical format; to divide the picture space diagonally, to define the nearer figures more sharply, to em­phasize contours purposely, to be scarcely discernible, to convey a sense of space, to place the figures against the landscape back­ground, to merge into a single entity, to blend with the landscape, to indicate the sitter's profession, to be represented standing.../sit­ting.../talking..., to be posed/ silhouetted against an open sky/a classic pillar/the snow; to accentuate smth.

Colouring. Light and shade effects: subtle/gaudy colouring, to combine form and colour into harmonious unity; brilliant/low-keyed colour scheme, the colour scheme where ... predominate; muted in colour; the colours may be cool and restful/hot and agi­tated/soft and delicate/dull, oppressive, harsh; the delicacy of tones may be lost in a reproduction.

Impression. Judgement: the picture may be moving, lyrical, romantic, original, poetic in tone and atmosphere, an exquisite piece of painting, an unsurpassed masterpiece, distinguished by a marvellous sense of colour and composition.

The picture may be dull, crude, chaotic, a colourless daub of paint, obscure and unintelligible, gaudy, depressing, disappoint­ing, cheap and vulgar.


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