Friday, April 24, 2015

New York Report 2

In addition to studying at the Art Students League in March, I spent time sketching in the Metropolitan Museum. For some time I have been fascinated by the figure of the Virgin in this stunning Annunciation by Memling (1465 - 75). Her face has a subtle expression of someone listening with utmost calm, unusual in an Annunciation.

After several unsuccessful attempts to draw her face, I sat on the bench in front of the painting and analyzed it geometrically.

 This is the result (still not quite perfect, but close!)

Most faces would not line up this way, but as I looked at other Madonnas, from the earliest icons to the Renaissance, I kept finding these proportions: long oval, long nose, small mouth, delicate chin. This face carries layers of meaning, century after century. Other depictions by other artist gradually became more naturalistic, but, even in this Picasso etching, the woman in the window with the white bird seems a distant echo of the ancient face.
Finally, another famous face. Here is a drawing of Alexander the Great from a Greek bronze bust in the Metropolitan Museum. As I stood drawing this I heard a lot of stories about Alexander. Parents, pastors, docents, teachers, they all had a version. Some were quite fanciful! I love the Greek bronzes, so much more lively than the most of the Roman marble statuary, many of which are copies of Greek bronze originals.

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