Saturday, February 21, 2009

Herbert James Draper

The first oil I ever did was a reproduction of Herbert James Draper. It was for me Painting like the Old Masters class in school. Of all the artists in history, I choose Draper. Draper was friends with Waterhouse, a student of Leighton and Bouguereau and an instruction at the Royal Acedemy. Many people are familiar with his painting, the Lament for Icarus, but not many of his other works seem to be known. This one is called Calypso's Isle. I had to send away to the U.K. to get a book on his works. I was not able to find an image of this painting on the net, so I took a lackluster photo from the book. It is a beautiful painting of which I am very familiar. I also did a master copy in oil of this piece which I have attached at the bottom. It is slightly cropped from the original, but showssome of the detail to a slightly clearer degree. I have attached two studies that Draper did as well, showing that his process was textbook acedemic, doing sketch studies of figures and value studies before ever getting to painting. This piece brings to mind illustions of Penelope awaying the return of Odysseus. Classical mythology was often the inspiration to the Pre-Raphaelites of whom Draper was one. Draper has beautifully rendered the alabaster skin of his figure which holds a mirror which she does not look into. She is holding pearls and jewelry in her other hand, covered in linen or silk, sitting atop a finely rendered draper (of which I am sure there was a study). She at the edge of the bay and gazes out into the empty waters. The limited palette on this painting was a joy to work with as it fits my aesthetic interests. Ochre and umber colored rocks and stones surrounding a prussion blue/green waters surrounding the lovely alizarin crimson drapery. Warm shadows on her arm and face contrast the coolness of the waters. The sensuality of the figures bare neck and back are extraordinary. I love this painting. I love Herbert Draper's work.

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