Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Apelles Paints Campaspe

Dutch keeps pestering me to draw, so I told him I would draw if he did something about dinner (which, with the preparation, etc usually takes a few hours of my free time).

I have an old postcard of an obscure Netherlandish painting, its pretty terrible, all cupids, naked ladies and bearded men. But the cool thing is the painter in the middle of this creative maelstrom, armed with his maulstick and his palette. I am jealous.

It was only on the third or fourth look did I notice the dog in the corner. Like the golden lab in Las Meninas, like the ubiquitous dogs in movies directed by Mexican-born directors (Amores Perros, Children of Men comes immediately to mind). This dog's gaze gave me so much trouble. At first I thought he was looking down, to the right, but the reproduction was so blurry, it was ambiguous. Not only did his face look weird, in a painting that is nearly all about The Gaze, it seemed illogical for the dog to be looking down, out of the frame of the picture. It wasn't until my brain figured out where his nose actually was, then the whole, crazy party fell into place. Not just into linear place, but into a vibrant, three-dimensional space that I had a hard time rendering into a two dimensional surface.

Web of Glances

The dog is looking at the model. The cupid is looking at the model. The model is looking at the dog. A strange triangle, indeed. It begs to be interpreted (love, sex and fidelity). The painting is looking at me. Twice. From the frame of her painting and from the painting's frame. The artist's maulstick comes out of her torso like an arrow (goes into it like an arrow?). The artist is looking at the model. The turbaned gent is looking at the artist. The winged muse is looking at the artist. The black-capped fellow with a table-cloth (to cover the model, perhaps?) is looking at either the painting or the turban. The bearded triton in the painting is looking at the woman in the painting. Triton's model (who is strangely clean-shaven) is looking at the model. Oddly, Black Cap is blocking the lower half of the model and the triton's model with his table-cloth. Perhaps the tableaux has been interrupted by the arrival of Turban. The mask in the upper-left corner is looking at the painting and the model. The mysterious figure in the shadows, on the right is looking at a trident or the triton model..

Eye-like Objects

Inexplicably, in the middle of the painting, on the ground, is a stack of large books, topped by a large shallow dish full of water (couldn't be a dog dish, the splashing would ruin the books). The cupid is reflected in its surface. It propels my gaze straight up the column of Venus to the muse. The model has her right foot is planted in a gigantic clam shell (lips, eyes, vag) which, naturally, goes with the Venus-rising-out-of-the-sea theme of the meta-painting..


The mysterious figure on the right is holding a mirror, reflecting the light coming from the window behind the artist (which is beyond the edge). The canvas of the meta-painting, perhaps reflecting the inner vision of the meta-artist. The scrim hanging above the artist's head, a diffuser, perhaps? It may have writing on it. It seems to be magically suspended.

Hello, Campaspe

I finally wikied the the title. Another window makes it all clear. According to the postie, a certain J. van Winghe painted this. I couldn't find anyting on the nets about him.


My first college drawing teacher* told me that we draw what we love, and to draw well, we have to love what we are drawing.


The Dutch Gaze

Dutch read this a moment ago, and when he googled van Winghe, he got a bunch of hits. He also found a better reproduction here, in addition to a drawing. I got most of the details right, except I fabricated the mask in the corner. I don't know why, when I did it, google suggested "wings."


*My first college drawing teacher-- I googled him, and found a listing, which may or may not be the correct person, which includes not only oil and fresco painting (what he was doing 15 years ago when I was acquainted with him), but also the art direction credit for the movie What Dreams May Come (which was not corroborated by imdb.org). Curiouser and curiouser.


H said...

Is anyone looking at the dog? Besides the viewer of the painting?

H said...

Nevermind... I guess the model was. At least the model was looking at the dog... poor dog.

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