Staffage


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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Staffage

 

human or animal figures added as subordinate elements to a landscape painting to give the painting a livelier appearance. Staffage was commonly used by 16th- and 17th-century landscape painters, who often included religious and mythological scenes in their works. Staffage was frequently painted into a picture not by the landscapist but by another artist.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This essay argues, however, that her treatment of accessory figures ('staffage') in the landscape, in particular the labouring poor, marks a clear shift away from classical aesthetic ideals that has hitherto been overlooked.
kind of staffage for the action, changed into living people.
He repeatedly quotes Latin, refers to Homer, Galileo, Geulincx and Balzac, has studied astronomy, geology, anthropology and psychiatry, uses terms such as "staffage'" from art history and "trim" from engineering, possesses an extensive vocabulary, including words like "coenaesthetically," "eudemonistic," "floccillate," "martingales," and "liane," and understands the proper use of the Times Literary Supplement.
He positions the rustic landscape representation "somewhere between the carefully wrought order of the formal garden and the forest or other wildness untouched by human presence" (xxiv): prosaic in its scenery and staffage, it is recognizably Netherlandish though not necessarily topographic.
Like staffage in nineteenth-century landscape painting, her observers direct our attention time and time again to the collective gaze and to the spectacles luring that gaze: Lily Daw displaying a zinnia in her mouth; sideshow attractions like the Petrified Man and Keela the Indian Maiden; a deaf couple animatedly discussing in sign language their miraculous discovery of a key; "loud, squirming, ill-assorted" bathers at a park; Clytie Farr and Mrs.
This little boat may serve to recall that even the apparently active fantasy view of Westminster Bridge on an aquatic pageant day has depopulated the river and created a focused order around the Mayoral boat when one contrasts it with a more photographic drawing Canaletto made at about the same time [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 5 OMITTED].(21) Most interesting of all, perhaps, are Canaletto's complementary paintings of the Gloucestershire home of the Duke of Beaufort, Badminton House from the Park and Badminton Park, from the House [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 6 OMITTED]: "the compositions are simplified to daring extremes and the staffage included as no more than an incidental element.
(79.) ["Wie gottlich ist diese Staffage gewahlt, sie ist nicht wie bei den ordinaren Herrn Malem ein blofler MaBstab Rir die Hohe der Gegensfande, er ist die Sache selbst, er ist das Bild ..."].
Her attire indicates that she hails from the past, but the diminutive size of the depiction leaves one wondering: Is she the protagonist of the picture or mere staffage? Yet she unlocks the capacious pictorial space, marking a point of distance from the viewer and endowing the abstract segmentation of the plane with an ambiguous semblance of depth.
In comparison with Paul Sandby, the leading exponent of the factual landscape, Grimm possessed a wonderfully refined sense of composition, allied with a complete ease in the way he integrated the figures, never as mere 'staffage' but always with a sense that they belonged to the landscape they inhabited.
Peasant women working right at the back of the field, shown in small dimensions, and the expectantly waiting dog are staffage figures; together with the wooden trough with fresh water gushing from it, they animate the foreground.
Bratkov's large photograph Untitled, 2006, showing a group of sunbathers during winter in the Pietropavlovskaya Fortress in Saint Petersburg, recalls Boris Mikhailov's satirical works, and perhaps even Ilya Repin's dramatic realism, but the artist uses the human figure more as sexualized staffage than as a carrier of overt social or political messages.
If the Cardiff drawing is by Turner, then the amount of stippling it contains would suggest that its creator would have regarded it as a finished work (rather than a sketch or study),4 even though the foreground is fairly vague and there is no staffage, for stippling only appears in Turner's watercolours when he takes them to an advanced stage of completion.