Augustus Leopold Egg (1816–1863): The Travelling7/20/2021, 1:35:30 PM
Augustus Leopold Egg (1816–1863): The Travelling Companions, 1862, oil on canvas, 65.3 cm x 78.7 cm, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, UK English artist, Augustus Leopold Eg painted historical, anecdotal, and literary themes, and under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites he also turned to overtly moralizing subjects. He bought work from the young William Holman Hunt and shared ideas on colour theory with him The artist was a friend of Charles Dickens, and Dickens described him as a "dear gentle little fellow," "always sweettempered, humorous, conscientious, thoroughly good, and thoroughly beloved." A good Egg indeed! His present painting has an enduring fascination because of its mirror image of two young women. The women are dressed identically, in the same voluminous grey silk travelling clothes, with their hats identically placed on their laps. They are arranged symmetrically on seats to either side of the carriage window. The window has three parts, framing the view like a triptych. The coastline of Menton, on the French Riviera, is visible through the window, but neither woman seems to be paying any attention to this. The train is in motion, witnessed by the swinging tassel on the window blind. The carriage itself is symmetrical, as the women are. The symmetry is broken, however, by a number of small differences. The woman on the right reads a book; her hair is tied up, she is wearing gloves and a bouquet of flowers lies next to her. The red feather in her hat is neatly groomed. The woman opposite her is sleeping, her hair loose, with bare hands, and a basket of fruit beside her. The feather in her hat is a little ragged. The painting could be read as a Victorian version of William Hogarth's Industry and Idleness.