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Old 03-03-2006, 11:22 PM   #1
Enzie Shahmiri Enzie Shahmiri is offline
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Adolphe-William Bouguereau-at the Getty in Los Angeles

Well I finally had a chance to spend an entire day at the Getty and drool over Adolphe-William Bouguereau's Virgin of the Angels. This painting was originally painted for the Salon exhibition in Paris and is enormous. The painting belongs to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles and was given to the Getty for cleaning. The Getty also has a smaller painting, which is an exact copy of the large one and done entirely by Bouguereau himself. To be able to see the "before" and "after" of a masterpiece is a stunning experience. For the images look here:


The first thing I noticed was how the baby just absolutely glows. Even though one would at first glance assume that the white wings of the angels would be the lightest object in the painting, you will notice upon squinting that B. has kept the value just a tad darker than the baby.

The foreground, middle ground and background were there and even though each angel's face, clothing or their hands had the exact same handling and attention to detail, he gave the allusion of space in the painting by keeping certain edges slightly more fuzzy or varying the degree of detail minutely in certain areas. The only place I noticed less care given to the handling of detail was in the wing of the angel standing in the back (our right).

On a personal note I have to say that everything Marvin Mattelson has taught his students about painting and handling of color was apparent in the cleaned painting. I had taken my color swatches from Marvin's palette and held it up to the painting, every time the guards were looking away. The colors matched dead on- and I was again amazed!

I spent several hours in front of these paintings and only admired the handling of the baby's face and body. It is done so smoothly, the roundness of the features so perfect that one just wants to pick him out of the painting and cradle him in one's arms.

The way B. handles feet is also stunning. There is not one line, everything is modeled with such subtle changes in value and the skin looks as if the blood is just pumping through.

Enzie Shahmiri
Professional Portrait Artist
Founder of Southern California Society of Portrait Artists
World Market Portraits Blog

Last edited by Enzie Shahmiri; 03-03-2006 at 11:26 PM.
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