Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Confession (the Problem Picture)

(click to enlarge) 
Sir Frank Dicksee
(English, 1853-1928)
The Confession, 1896
Oil on canvas

Not too long ago I realized that a lot of the people who read this blog (very awesome people indeed!) like to write. And so, I figured that the genre of painting that would probably appeal to them most would be– the Problem Picture! And since I'm no good at writing, here's a quote from Wikipedia that sums it up quite nicely:
A problem picture is a genre of art popular in the late Victorian era, characterised by a deliberately ambiguous narrative that can be interpreted in several different ways, or which portrays an unresolved dilemma.  . . . The viewer of the picture is invited to speculate about several different possible explanations of the scene.
Exciting! And the painting I have chosen is The Confession by Frank Dicksee. Who is confessing to whom? What could he/she be confessing? I have my theories, but I won't spoil your fun! ;)


  1. I think she is confessing something to her father, but at this moment in time my creative soul is dry....Do tell your theories!

  2. The first thing I noticed was the color. The girl is in white (which can symbolize innocence) while the man is in black and sitting in the shadows. But this is a painting of real life, so that could mean nothing. ;) And their posture could mean something. The woman looks comforting and almost friendly. So I always felt that it was a married couple and the husband was confessing something to the wife. But the great (or maybe the frustrating) thing about these paintings is that there's no right answer! ;)

  3. Hm... well maybe the colors *are* significant. He doesn't exactly look like someone who a girl would bare her soul to. But then I do kind of confess to a man wearing black who is sitting in a small dark room. He look very distressed, and she looks compassionate. And look at how she's holding her hands though to comfort him. But his are pulled in. This is a very interesting picture indeed...

  4. The guy seems to have feelings for the girl. The girl seems to be unaware of them. The girl seems to have confessed about her feelings for someone else which is causing much distress to the guy. She is waiting for an opinion from him, she looks hopeful that it will be quite positive :P