Picture 57.  Marygold Combing her Fair Hair

Picture 57. Marygold Combing her Fair Hair

Bobby, his face still sooty from the explosion, is holding the mirror for her. In the background we see the smoking ruin of the haunted house from which the pair escaped by the skin of their teeth.

"Girl doing her hair", "Young woman at the dressing table" are popular motifs with portrait painters. But there are not too many representations of this theme which can compete sucessfully in winsomeness with this picture. One is tempted to compare it with the French impressionist Auguste Renoir's Portrait of a Young Woman.

"Marygold combing her hair" is far from being a classical portrait calmly focussed on sheer beauty; it is a narrative picture: capricious, full of mockery, satirizing female narcissm - she is blowing a kiss at her mirror-image! However, what justifies the juxtaposition with a work of art is the young illustrator's serendipity in capturing and transmitting a gesture of breathtaking loveliness, - an inspiration worthy of a genius: Two artists, a young man and a veteran enchanted by a girl combing her hair!

On looking at lovely Marygold, one empathizes with Bobby. The caricaturist, familiar with facial expressions of all kinds, of course senses the element of silliness in the expression of utter bliss and makes the most of it.

The magic of the scene is augmented by a delicate formal play with things suspended in the air: the beauty's fair locks wafting smokelike on the morning breeze come down like a curtain to hide the ghastly horror scene: two kinds of conflagration, love and hatred.