Achille Buzzi, Reproach, date unknown, watercolour on paper, Aigantighe Art Gallery Collection 1956.10
Reproach is by the 19th Century Italian painter, Achille Buzzi. The work is an example of narrative painting – a term which means the artist has selected and positioned his subjects to tell a story within the singular moment that the artwork captures.
In this instance, we know from the title that the work depicts an argument, and looking at the painting we can see that the body language and facial expressions of the figures tell us that the male subject is the reproacher while the woman is the reproachee. The nature of the young lady’s misdemeanor, however, remains a mystery. But, the extravagant clothing and setting of the image do provide some clues: might this be a question of family honor? Of teenage rebellion or scandal in the Royal Court? The artist does not answer these questions and instead leaves them open to the interpretations and speculations of gallery visitors.
As well as being a fun exercise in imagination and detective skills, the work also radiates a classical European sensibility not often seen in local art collections.