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Picturing a World

Clearing the clutter (3): Artist, frames, and lay figure

Man, had I forgotten this one! But I see why I saved it. A 19th C artist, his studio, a lay figure, mirror images, picture frames—so much to linger over. An art-appreciation teacher might point to the way verticals and diagonals direct the eye, or the way the lighting picks out the gilding and that impressive mechanical figure. But what attracts a writer? What stories does His Favorite Model suggest?

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Marottes were wooden or papier mâché forms used by hatmakers when they were decorating or showing their wares. They are clearly akin to penny wooden dolls and also remind me of artists’ lay figures. According to the OED, the word is possibly related to marionette, although the etymology of both is obscure. Read More 

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Painting from the same motif

It was not uncommon for 19th C artists to sketch or paint together from the same motif. Think of Renoir and Monet, Pissarro and Cézanne … or John Singer Sargent and the American illustrator Edwin Austin Abbey. I read about Sargent and Abbey at the same time I was reading about the Red Rose Girls because I was interested in both artistic friendships and illustration as a viable commercial career for trained artists.

Today’s image and topic come from a Gurney Journey post, where you can see Sargent’s depiction of the lay figure for what it is, a manikin.  Read More 
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