Armand Berton (1854-1927) was a French painter born in Paris. He studied with Alexandre Laemlein at the so-called Petit École and later with Alexandre Cabanel at the École des Beaux-Arts. His hearing loss forced him to abandon his studies, but he continued his education independently, perfecting his technique through observation and imitation of the works of the old masters seen in the Louvre. He regularly exhibited his paintings at the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In his works, he dealt with portrait and genre painting, often taking up the theme of female nudes*.
Description of the painting:
The painting depicts a genre scene taking place in an interior. The center of the work is a woman. She is wearing a dark dress reaching her feet. Her head is shown in profile. The woman looks at the bouquet of flowers she is arranging, which she puts into the vase on the table. The table also shows coffee serving utensils – a pot, a cup, and a creamer. The right part of the room is decorated with paintings. In the background is a bed hidden behind a screen. The left part of the room is less clearly visible. There is a small table, a chair, and shelves with vases visible behind the screen.
The painting is kept in a monochromatic palette based on browns. The interior appears to be a small apartment, which, through showing it in warm colors and accumulating small objects, gives the impression of being cozy. The title ‘Delicate Courtesy (Gentle Care)’ can be related to the way the bouquet is arranged, which the woman creates with flowers in pastel colors. The figure itself can also be described by the title of the work. The woman exudes peace and warmth, and a slight smile adds to her charm. The title can also be understood in terms of the scene shown. Although there is only one cup on the table, the ornate dress with ruffles and the decorative bow, as well as the way the chair is arranged in the foreground, give the impression that the woman is waiting for someone, preparing afternoon tea. The composition of the work puts the viewer in the role of a guest of the woman, who is watching her. The interesting play of light is also worth mentioning. The artist focuses the light rays on the laid out table, illuminating this space. By showing their reflection on the silver pot and white cup, emphasizing the details of the table, and leaving the rest of the painting in the half-light, he creates an interesting atmosphere.