"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul." Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New, Sold and Masterpiece #2

Oil on cardboard / 20x16
 Not quite finished with this oil sketch on gessoed artboard - the jockey still needs a few tweaks before I will call it done.

And another painting sold from the Roux & Cyr Gallery in Portland, Maine - thank you, Susan Roux, you are wonderful!

Piping Plovers Cubed / oil on linen / 9 x 12 / SOLD

The second masterpiece by Michelangelo, according to Miles Unger in his book "Michelangelo: A Life in 6 Masterpieces" is the sculpture originally referred to as 'Il Gigante' or, as we know it today, 'David'.

After completing the Pieta, Michelangelo returned to Florence with accolades while his fame spread to all corners of Italy and beyond. At this time, there lay in the courtyard of the cathedral of Florence a massive block of Carrara marble. It had been there for over 30 years exposed to wind and rain, covered in dirt and surrounded by weeds. The abandoned monolith was "a monument to frustrated ambition and humbled pride". Florentine's referred to it as "the Giant" as it faintly resembled the ill formed figure of a man inexpertly hacked at by two obscure artists over 10 years time who both abandoned the projects they had barely begun.

In 1501, overseers of the cathedral took a renewed interest in the massive piece of stone - 18 feet from end to end - which had been excavated in 1464 from the mountainside and hauled over 80 miles to Florence at great expense. They were eager to commission a new statue to adorn the exterior of the cathedral and it seemed prudent to use the perfectly serviceable stone what was already on hand. They decided that the symbolism of an underdog emerging victorious in the face of long odds would be perfectly encapsulated in a statue of David, a shepherd boy who defeated the giant Goliath with a stone.

Michelangelo was hired to "make and carry out and to finish perfectly a figure...within 2 years" and he immediately set out to carve a giant figure that would inspire, astound and amaze. As was his habit, he enclosed his work site, carved in solitude and worked with furious speed. The stone was now upright and in order to carve a column more than 3 times the height of a man, he erected a surrounding scaffolding.  Michelangelo was forced to fit his figure into contours of the stone that were less than ideal as the two previous attempts on the stone left it damaged and "badly blocked". As the statue progressed and Michelangelo was forced to allow  overseers of the church to view his progress, they realized it was worthy of a more prominent site - in the heart of political Florence - the Palazzo della Signoria.

David is not only beautiful, grand and of enormous size, he is fully in command and perfectly at ease. Armed with a sling he is confident but uncertain of his fate - a heroic version of man.




Here is David, the shepherd boy, on the verge of battle in the very moment that he becomes aware that Goliath is approaching. He turns his head, looking over his shoulder. The tendons of his neck stiffen as he realizes the critical moment is at hand. He knits his brow and shifts his eyes toward his enemy. He shows determination in the face of uncertainty, the eloquently portrayed shepherd boy who became the holy warrior.

With the installation of David, Michelangelo became the most celebrated sculptor in Europe, his reputation as an artist surpassed only by that of Leonardo da Vinci.

Next up: the Sistine Chapel.

15 comments:

  1. Beautiful paintings Susan!! As always, it's a pleasure to visit. Meanwhile, the statue is just begging to be drawn! :0)

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    1. Loved your post Susan! Your paintings are amazing and Congratulations on selling your piping plovers....that's always exciting news!!! And lastly, David is definitely a beautiful statue!!!!

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    2. Hi, Sandra - I do think David is in thousands of sketchbooks world wide!

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    3. Thank you, Hilda - I always feel so humbled when someone likes my work enough to purchase it for their home - imagine that! Its a great feeling and a bit of a confidence builder - which is always appreciated!

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  2. Congratulations on the sale, really doesn't surprise me, it is a wonderful subject and painted the Susan way it just sparks !

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    1. Thank you, Jane. I painted a small series of these birds for the Maine gallery as this bird is indigenous to that area. As a small girl I loved watching the sea birds scurry around on the shore line as the waves rushed in.

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  3. Those plovers are wonderful, its not surprised they sold. I'm reallly enjoying reading about your Italian adventure - how lifting these masterpieces continue to be after all this time.

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    1. The work of Michelangelo continues to fascinate me as I read about his life. I still find it almost impossible to imagine how he freed these complex figures from the stone in such a brilliant and perfect way.

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  4. Proficiat met de verkoop van je mooi werk Susan.
    Prachtige foto's van een meesterwerk heb je gemaakt.
    Fijn weekend en groetjes van Simonne

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    1. A lovely comment - and I thank you!

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  5. Congratulations on your sale, it is a beautiful painting! And I love your Michelangelo series!

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    1. Thanks, Judy - its always a thrill to have a sale. This photo is not very good - for some reason the painting did not photograph well. Thanks for your kind words.

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  6. Hi Susan,
    As always, your horse-and-rider paintings are superb - so dynamic! I love those little touches of red in the rider's gloves and the girth, and the warm oranges in the bridle and horse's back end.
    The seagulls make me smile. They are such a funny/cute trio with those wobbly, knobby legs. Congradulations on the sale!
    As for David, what can one say? I consider myself so fortunate to have seen him when I was in Florence many years ago. He is truly an awe-inspiring work.
    Kathryn

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    1. Thank you for your comments, Kathryn. I continue my obsession with Michelangelo. His next work, Moses, which I did not see in life, just boggles my mind! What a genius he was!

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  7. Just catching up! Love the horse and rider, there is such a determination about them. the birds are 'a dream' no-wonder it sold ...love it! David simply defies words ... such genius.

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Your comments are welcome and brighten my day!