Cock Fight

Arthur Melville British

Not on view

Nearly twenty years after he visited the Middle East, the Scottish painter Melville depicted a cockfight he had seen in Muscat, Oman, in 1881. Associated with the progressive "Glasgow Boys," the artist avoided romantic Orientalism and created muted effects using a distinctive "blottesque" technique. Inspired by the tonal paintings of Whistler and the formal qualities of Japanese prints, he applied large droplets of color, manipulated with sponge and brush, to suggest seated onlookers grouped around a colorfully dressed standing man. The two roosters that face off at center are rendered with abbreviated strokes of black and red touched with white. While the figures seem to melt together, the architectural setting provides structure, with a striking arched opening receding into shadows pierced by a bright rectangular window.

Cock Fight, Arthur Melville (British, 1858–1904), Watercolor

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