Monday, 17 March 2014

80. Gallery Sketches: Rubens and Giordano

Sketch of Rubens' Minerva Protects Pax from Mars ('Peace and War'),
Derwent Onyx Dark in A4 sketchbook

This is a lovely big painting full of all sorts of wonderful textures. It's typical of many such mythological scenes that I studied years ago and is worth looking up. However, I didn't know that Rubens had presented this as a gift to Charles 1. 

Over the years, I've always been struck by the ability of these master artists to render different textures and Rubens is no exception; there is flesh, fur, hair, metal, foliage, fruit, fabric, jewellery, fluid, the sky - just lovely.

My sketch includes Pax but I didn't manage to get Minerva or any of the background war scenes done. She is the link from peace in the foreground ('Pax') and war in the background, signified of course by Mars.

I came home and printed out images of both these paintings as a reminder of what I'd been looking at. We had about 20 minutes for each of these; the Tour and Draw sessions last longer (90 minutes) than the Talk and Draw (an hour) to allow time for everyone to travel from room to room.

Sketch of Luca Giordano's Perseus Turning Phineas and His Followers to Stone,
Derwent Onyx Dark in A4 sketchbook

I love this painting! I was so glad Sarah chose this and our remit was to look at how Giordano has used controposto in some of the figures to show energy, particularly Perseus.  

For many years, artists have painted and sculpted all or part of this mythological scene - Sebastiano Ricci did a beautiful one with wonderful classical sculptures and architecture which, I think, more effectively shows the followers of Phineas turning to stone.

Nevertheless, this has been my favourite for a couple of reasons. When you look at it, you see that Giordano thought about the fact that Medusa's severed head could still turn the beholder to stone so he turns Perseus's head away while he thrusts it in the faces of his enemies; I also think the determined expression on his young face shows authority and maturity. Giordano has taken advantage of this to effect the contraposto stance. 

The second reason is just the sumptuous fabric in Perseus's costume. Now you know I love blue and these blues set against the gold, ochre and bronze elements are just delicious.

Finally, look at the expression of Medusa, or no, maybe you shouldn't!! Oh-oh.....

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