Week 7 Image Critique

Student Name: Chin-Han (Kelly) Chiu n8862419

Date of Post: 7th of September 2014

Topic and Relevant Lecture Week: 7 – High and Low Modality Images Critique (Semiotics)

Modality Semiotic Image Analysis 

Contextual information: 

Photographer – Patrick Demarchelier

Title – Gentlemen Only

Year of creation –2013

Dimensions – Unknown

Collection/source – Givenchy

Technique, material – Photography and Computer Graphics

Genre – Advertisement

Style – Fashionable and Stylistic

Image URL / originhttp://www.fashiongonerogue.com/givenchy-introduces-gentlemen-only-fragrance-campaign-with-simon-baker/


Semiological Analysis:

The Signs:

  1. The gentleman in the suit is the signifier and the signified is wealth, class and politeness. This representation is reinforced through his posture and stance. Although his suit is soaked with rain, the lighting from his left is creating a glow on his left shoulder and contrasting his suite to the woman and his surrounding, making him look very classy and expensive.
  2. The woman dressed in red is also a signifier and the signified is beauty and fashionable. The woman is very invisible due to the colour of her clothes, but because she has her head turned towards the man and with her hair covering the side of her face, she does not take away the focus from the guy and acts to accompany him.
  3. The last signifier is the cologne and the signified is scent and masculinity. The darker blue on the background is creating a strong contrasting effect to the perfume bottle. It helps emphasise the shape of the bottle allowing the audiences to see the product in detail. The colour of blue is also associated with masculinity and confidence.


Narrative pictures (or scenes within pictures) are recognized by the presence of a vector (2001,pg.13). In this advertisement the vector line that connects the participants is the outstretched arm of the man holding the umbrella for the woman. The actor is therefore the man, formed by the connection of his arm to towards the female as well as the way the female has her face turned towards the man. Therefore the woman is represented as reactors rather than actors, making him the attractive. This is further reinforced by the way the man looks straight at the viewer and not the woman, giving him the authority and confidence. This also demonstrates the target audience of the advertisement, which in this case is man with a high socioeconomic status.

Interactive Meaning

Images can create particular relations between viewers and the world inside the picture frame. In this way they interact with viewers and suggest the attitude viewers should take towards what is being represented (2001, pg.17). The relationship between the viewer and the man is represented as more demanding in terms of his direct eye contact with the viewer. The viewer is distance from the man due to the long shot capturing his whole figure.


According to Kress and van Leeuwen (1996), left-right placement creates a ‘given-new’ structure (2001, pg.21). The given is on the left which are the man and the woman. The given is what we already know, is familiar to and has agreed on, therefore as viewers, we have agreed to that the man is posh and classy.The new on the right is perfume and is yet to be agreed by the viewer. It given also questions the viewer on why the female is so attracted to the man?  The new is then a solution: Use the perfume and make yourself an attractive and class gentleman.

Connections are made by the use of vector lines (the arm of the man) joining the characters together as well as the black on the man’s suit , the umbrella and the woman’s dress and hair.

Salience is used to indicate the important elements of the image. In this advertisement, the man is made to be the focus due to the lighting. There is a glow of light around his figure making him more obvious compared the woman in red that is darker due to the coverage of the umbrella. Other than the character that’s eye-catching, the product is also another focus on this ad. The colour contrast between the bottle and the blue makes the perfume stand out. The rain is also pouring around the bottle symbolising that the fragrance is like the man and is attractive even if its wet.


This is an example of high nature modality. The man and the woman are realistic but the highly contrasting background makes it decrease in modality.

 Modality Semiotic Image Analysis

Contextual information:

Artist – Earl Oliver Hurst

Title – Man holding umbrella for fashionable woman

Year of creation –1940

Dimensions – 22 x 19 in. (55.9 x 48.3 cm.)

Collection/source – Art Net

Technique, material – Illustration with ink and watercolor

Genre – Comic

Style – Fashion and Romantic

Image URL / originhttp://www.artnet.com/artists/earl-oliver-hurst/man-holding-umbrella-for-fashionable-woman-vQp7EPrhnpd-b_iddOgPLw2 


The Signs: 

  1. One of the sign is the man with the umbrella. The man is the signifier and the signified is well mannered and protective. The signified is demonstrated by the way he holds his umbrella for the woman. The smile on his face makes him approachable and friendly.
  2. The other sign is the umbrella. The signifier is umbrella and the signified is protection and cover. This is represented by the appeal of the woman because she is not affected by the pouring rain, whereas the man is.
  3. The last sign is the woman. The signifier is female and the signified is fashionable, trendy and confidence. This is reinforced through her posture and her facial expression. She is a symbolic sign of femininity and intelligence.


This is also an example of a transactive, narrative representation. The vector line that connects the participants is the outstretched arm of the man holding the umbrella for the woman. There is also the arm of the woman directing back at the man as well as the eye of the man directing us to the face of the fashionable woman. The actor is therefore the woman formed by the connection of her arms back towards the man and the man’s arm towards her. The man is accompanying the female, making her the more important.

Interactive Meaning

The woman is portrayed as more demanding due to her gesture and the way she has her chin tilted up. The viewer also feels distant from the woman due to the long shot capturing the whole figure.


Due to the size and structure of the image, the most important lies in the middle of the image. However in terms of given and the new, the given is the man and the new is the woman. Therefore what we already know is that man is dominant and the powerful but what we don’t know is that woman is powerful in controlling the man’s desire. A gentleman holds the umbrella for the woman not only to show politeness but the need to obey the woman in order to get close to her.

The two characters are connected through the way in which their arms and legs intersect. The brown colour on the mans’ suit, connects to the colour of the woman’s raincoat. The orange of her skirt also grabs the attention. She seems to be confident and unaffected by the rain and therefore is cleaner and brighter than the man.

Further Critique:

These two images both consist of man holding an umbrella for a woman. They are not only different in terms of modality but also the position of gender roles. In the first example, even though the man is holding the umbrella for the woman, but he is using this act to demonstrate his power and authority. However, on the second example, the act of the man holding the umbrella demonstrates the desires for woman making him look weaker compared to the female. They both use similar signs but for a totally different message. Therefore it is very important to keep in mind of the context when interpreting the different underlying signs.


Jewitt, Carey and Oyama, R. (2001). Visual Meaning: A Social Semiotic Approach. In Van Leeuwen, Theo and Jewitt, Carey, Handbook of visual analysis, (pp.134 – 157) [SAGE]. Retrieved fromhttp://srmo.sagepub.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/view/the-handbook-of-visual-analysis/n1.xml 


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