Georges Guillaume Roger (1867 – 1943) was a French painter. He studied in Paris with Jean-Léon Gérôme. He regularly exhibited his works in Parisian salons. He was involved in genre painting, portraiture, but also landscapes and marines. He created in the style of fin de siècle, and in his later works he was inspired by Breton themes and Dutch landscapes.
Description of the picture:
In the foreground, facing the viewer stands a woman in traditional Breton clothing. She is leaning against a beam on the left side, creating the impression of leaning against the frame of the picture. She is not looking at the viewer. Her eyes are lowered to her work held in her hands. Her small, tired face appears disproportionately small under the large, white headdress. The place she has taken is bathed in bright light, so she certainly stood there where her work was better visible.
In the depths of the dark Breton interior sits a young woman with a child on her lap. The woman is also dressed in traditional, dark clothing and a white headdress. In a heartfelt gesture, she embraces the child, who, in contrast to the woman, has her head adorned with pink ribbons and is dressed in violet.
Above the women’s heads, a cupboard runs through the room filled with painted dishes. This is a typical interior device for the region. On the right side stands a bench, above which is a bed in a niche. This type of bedding was intended to provide warmth in a cold, stone house. Brittany, due to its geographical position on the French peninsula, is exposed to frequent bad weather, strong winds, storms, humidity and cold. Stone houses had to be sturdy and safe. The rainy weather is underlined by the umbrella leaning against the bench next to the bed.
Looking at the scene of this typical Breton interior, at the women who are doing their daily duties in an unforced, unposed way, one can get the impression that one is an uninvited guest peeking into someone’s life. Paradoxically, this makes the image more interesting and intriguing. The intimate scene observed by the painter brings us closer to the traditional, multigenerational model of the Breton family, the costumes worn in the region and the typical interior furnishings.
In the catalogue for the exhibition of paintings from the collection of Edward Alexander at the National Museum, M. Piotr Michalowski interprets the scene as “a symbolic image of three generations, three stages of human life, from childhood through youth to old age, at the same time it is the image of a woman, assigned to her motherhood and work”. Roger, a French genre painter, belonged to the circle of artists called the “Black Band”. The group’s name referred to the dark colors of the paintings and the dark costumes of the Bretons. The painters of the “Black Band” in their work showed everyday life, nature, traditions and culture of this region.