Sunday, 10 August 2014

Figure Drawing (Part 3): Carmean, Sadeler, Bloemaert & de Bisschop

Beyond the fundamentals of how to apply sight-size measuring to gauge a figure’s proportions, what are some of the more subtle principles guiding an artist’s hand when drawing a figure?


For this final discussion about some of the subtle principles underpinning figure drawing, I will deal with a single but very important principle: complementary tensions as exemplified by the two inscribed arrows in Harry Carmean’s drawing, After Rodin (shown below) and by the opposing directional angles of the worker in Carmean’s, After Millet (shown further below). Regarding the latter drawing, the application of the principle is especially interesting as Carmean has adopted Millet’s practice—and later Van Gogh’s practice—of drawing with straight lines only to express the dynamic tensions within a figure.

© reproduced with kind permission of Harry Carmean

Harry Carmean (1922–)
After Rodin, 1957
(This drawing was executed during Carmean’s sculpture class in 1957. It demonstrates the opposing tensions underpinning Auguste Rodin’s [1840–1917] practice as a sculptor.)
Charcoal on thin wove drawing paper, signed “Carmean 57”

56 x 43 cm
Condition: good condition (i.e. there are no tears, stains or foxing) but there is a light fold through the centre of the sheet.
I am selling this drawing and the three other Carmean drawings discussed in this post shown below (i.e. After Rodin, After Millet, Standing Nude and Study of Rodin’s “Danaïd”) for a total cost of $302 AUD including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. These are large drawings and will be posted in a tube. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown below.






© reproduced with kind permission of Harry Carmean

Harry Carmean (1922–)
After Millet, 1968 (I understand that although this drawing is inscribed as having been executed in 1968 it was actually executed in 1988.)
Turquoise pastel on tinted Canson drawing paper, signed “Carmean 68” and “Millet” in black
65 x 50 cm
Condition: Excellent condition (i.e. there are no folds, tears, stains or foxing).

I am selling this drawing and the three other Carmean drawings discussed in this post shown above and below (i.e. After Rodin, After Millet, Standing Nude and Study of Rodin’s “Danaïd”) for a total cost of $302 AUD including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. These are large drawings and will be posted in a tube. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown above.




These tensions are the spring-like push-and-pull forces constantly operating within the muscles that sustain a figure’s balance and provide movement. Visual expression of such tensions, however, is not limited to the physical displays of strain and relaxation in the body’s musculature as demonstrated by the focus on the body’s features under strain and a corresponding softening of relaxed features in Carmean’s superb, Standing Nude (shown below).

© reproduced with kind permission of Harry Carmean

Harry Carmean (1922–)
Standing Nude, 1983
Brown and white pastel on tinted Canson drawing paper, signed “Carmean 83” in black pastel
65 x 50 cm
Condition: Excellent condition (i.e. there are no folds, tears, stains or foxing).
I am selling this drawing and the three other Carmean drawings discussed in this post shown above and below (i.e. After Rodin, After Millet, Standing Nude and Study of Rodin’s “Danaïd”) for a total cost of $302 AUD including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. These are large drawings and will be posted in a tube. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown above.





Tensions may also be suggested by the artist’s strokes when drawing the figure. By this I mean that an artist’s can use expressive gesture within the drawn strokes (i.e. variations of pressure, direction and speed of application) to connote the complementary states of squishing and stretching in a figure’s form (see further discussion of the concept of “squishing and stretching” in the earlier post, Phrasing of Line [http://www.printsandprinciples.com/2012/10/lowe-legros-boisseau-dore-kollwitz.html]). A good example of this concept may be seen in Carmean’s Study of Rodin’s “Danaïd” (shown below along with a reproduction of Rodin’s sculpture) where the twisted body of the exhausted and forlorn Danaid creates radiating angles of hips and shoulders with corresponding squishing of her abdomen and stretching of her back. Note in particular how Carmean adjusts his marks from strongly laid short lines, to sinuous long lines and finally to broad zigzags, to visually communicate the body's tensions.

© reproduced with kind permission of Harry Carmean

Harry Carmean (1922–)
Study of Rodin’s “Danaïd”
Charcoal on thin Hammermill Bond paper with watermark, signed “Carmean”
56 x 43.3 cm
Condition: good but with tearing to pin holes at the top of the sheet and light off-setting of charcoal.
I am selling this drawing and the three other Carmean drawings discussed in this post shown above (i.e. After Rodin, After Millet, Standing Nude and Study of Rodin’s “Danaïd”) for a total cost of $302 AUD including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. These are large drawings and will be posted in a tube. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown above.




Reproduction (interpretative rather then an identical reproduction) of
Auguste Rodin's (1840–1917) Danaïd  
Lacquered plaster cast
6.5 x 13.6 x 8 cm (height x width x depth)
See the original marble sculpture, Danaïd (1885), carved by Jean Escoula at the Musée Rodin: http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en/collections/sculptures/danaid (viewed 8 August 2014)

Rodin-Web.org offers the following concise explanation of the myth underpinning Rodin's Danaïd:
'Danaid' is an adaption of the Greek myth of the 50 daughters of King Danaos of Argos, the Danaids. To reconcile with his brother Danaos, Aegyptos, father of 50 sons, proposed his sons would marry to Danaos's daughters. Although Danaos seemingly agreed with the wedding, he instructed the brides to murder their bridegrooms during the wedding night, and all except one stabbed their husbands. As a penalty, the Danaids were forced to fill their jugs with water in the Hades; since these urns were perforated, their efforts were condemned to be in vain - another variation of the Sisyphus and Prometheus theme, whose penalties also were characterised by endless repetition. (http://www.rodin-web.org/works/1885_danaid.htm [viewed 8 August 2014])
Condition: Excellent condition (i.e. there are no chips, breaks or scratches).
I am selling this lacquered plaster reproduction for a total cost of $87 AUD including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown below.











Artful manipulation of the figure’s immediate surroundings (i.e. the background) in the hands of an insightful artist can also significantly enhance the expression of tensions inherent in figures. For instance, in Johan Sadeler’s (1550–1600) engraving, Saint Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness (shown below), the angles of the figure are echoed by the same angles found in the features of the background (see diagram shown further below with related angles highlighted in colour).

Johan Sadeler (1550–1600)
Saint Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness, 1533–78
after Hieronymi Muciani, after a drawing by Girolamo Muziano at the Pinacoteca in Bologna, after Cornelis Cort
(note that this print is a copy in reverse of Cornelis Cort’s engraved copy of Girolamo’s drawing [see: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3078206&partId=1&searchText=Hieronymi+Muciani+&page=1] but the BM does not possess a copy of Sadeler’s print)
Engraving on thick laid paper with large margins
State 1 (of II before the inscription “Gravé par Sadeler, à Paris chés Daumont Crépy ex.”)
Inscribed in the image (lower left): "JSadler excudit Coloniae.”;
(lower right): “Hieronymi muciani inve[nt]”
Inscribed below the image margin: QVI AUTE[M] SVNT … CoNCvPISCeNTIIS”
(sheet) 44 x 29 cm; (plate) 26.7 x 19.5 cm
Bartsch 7002.052 (vol. 70, part 3, pp. 246–47); Nagler 1835–52, no. 133.; Le Blanc, no. 129; Wurzbach, no. 101; Bierens de Haan, p, 127, no. 116, copy b; Sellink, no. 116, copy a.
(see also The Metropolitan Museum of Arts description of the same print but titled Saint Jerome Penitent in a Grotto: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/420945?rpp=30&pg=1&rndkey=20140808&ft=*&where=Netherlands&who=Johannes+Sadeler+I&pos=27)
Condition: a superb impression of this rare print. The sheet is in excellent condition for its age, nevertheless, there is light toning to the outer edges of the sheet.

I am selling this print for a total cost of $167 AUD including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown below.


This print has been sold











Relationship of angles in Saint Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness
Beyond expressing a figure’s opposing physical tensions by visually echoing them as directional rhythms in the background, artists often use the repetition of the same key angles as a way of suggesting the figure’s psychological mindset. Again, in Sadeler’s engraving, the relationship of the figure’s angles to those repeated in the background serves to visually amplify Saint Jerome’s state of spiritual transcendence. From a personal viewpoint, the repetition of angles found in the walls of the grotto and the tree on the right are read as a shape like a speech-bubble that is upwardly stretched (see diagram below); a shape that for me is an analogue for the saint’s prayers (see diagram of this background shape below). In short, repetition of a figure’s key angles of tension in the background can express both the physical tensions within the figure, as shaped by muscle and bone, and the figure’s mindset as an analogue of the figure’s psychological tensions. (For further discussion of the use of analogues see the earlier post, Three Analogues: http://www.printsandprinciples.com/2012/06/brown-kollwitz-three-analogues.html.)


Relationship of angles in Saint Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness as an analogue
Whether this principle is employed by any or all of these means described above—viz. representation of the muscles in action; use of expressive marks to connote tensions; artful manipulation of the surroundings—an artist’s application of the principle invests a figure drawing with the mercurial element which I describe as “vital life”—the hard to define aura of physical presence. Interestingly, the idea of using this principle is not restricted to figure drawing. Indeed its application extends to most subjects. For instance, a brief glance at the detail of the tree behind to the right of Saint Jerome in Sadeler’s engraving exhibits strong dynamic shifts both upwards and outwards. More exciting in terms of overt displays of dramatic tension in rendering trees, however is Frederik Bloemaert’s (c. 1616–90) magnificent engraving after his father’s (Abraham Bloemaert [1564–1651]) design, Landscape with a hermit kneeling before a cross next to a huge gnarled tree growing on a hut (shown below), where the row of trees embody similar convoluted tensions as those shaping the kneeling hermit.

Frederik Bloemaert (c. 1616–90) after Abraham Bloemaert (1564–1651)
Landscape with a hermit kneeling before a cross next to a huge gnarled tree growing on a hut, 1631–90
Engraving on fine laid paper
(sheet) 27.7 x 21.1 cm; (plate) 25.3 x 18.8 cm
Inscribed in Latin lower margin: "O! vere felix, fugiens ... / In sylvis vitam …. / Abraham, Bloemaert invent. Fred: Bloemaert Sculp; N: Visscher exc."
Condition: Very rare, crisp impression (i.e. there are no signs of wear to the plate) with margins. There is a light fold bottom-left otherwise in superb condition (i.e. there is no foxing, tears or signs of handling).
I am selling this print for a total cost of $264 AUD including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown below.


This print has been sold






In sculpture the concept of complementary tensions is an essential hallmark of a classically posed standing figure where the weight of the figure rests more on one leg than the other. This weighting creates a gentle “S”-shaped curve to the spine. Importantly, it also produces a tilt to the angle of the hips and a countering tilt to the angle of the shoulders. This arrangement of an “S”-shaped curve and countered angles to the hips and shoulders is termed contrapposto (Italian for "counterpose"). The stance of Michelangelo’s, David, for example, epitomises the contrapposto pose (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_(Michelangelo)#mediaviewer/File:David_von_Michelangelo.jpg [viewed 4 July 2014]). It may also be seen in Jan de Bisschop’s (1628–71) etchings of antique sculptures: Plate 38: Female Statue, restored as a Nike and Plate 81: Aphrodite (two views) (shown below). Interestingly, the pose of the latter sculpture showing Aphrodite’s vain attempt at modesty in her state of undress is often described as “Venus pudica.”  (For an interesting discussion about this pose see the blog, Be it Art: A Reflection about Art and all its Meanings:  http://beitart.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/the-power-of-the-venus-pudica-pose/ [viewed 11 August 2014].)

Jan de Bisschop (also known as Johannes Episcopius) (1628–71)
Plate 38: Female Statue, restored as a Nike, 1668/70
from Signorum Veterum Icones (1668)
etching on fine laid paper
(sheet) 31.6 x 22.7 cm; (plate) 23.4 x 13 cm
Description of this print by the British Museum: “Female statue wearing a garment looking at left holding out a laurel wreath in her right hand and a palm-leaf in her left hand; front view directed to left”
Description by the BM curator:
This statue is regarded as a decorative Roman work of the second century A.D., based on a Hellenistic prototype of the third or second century B.C. The statue was depicted from two different angles, each on separate plate. For all two plates see: 1850,0810.691-692. The etchings, of which the second plate was more freely etched, show the statue completed with its modern additions the right way round. This means that De Bisschop must have worked from counterproofs. No draughtsman's name is mentioned, but to judge from the differences both in details and in the general rendering, the drawings must have been by different artists, probably even of different periods. Neither these drawings have been traced, nor have any intermediary drawings by De Bisschop. In his list of contents and locations De Bisschop incorrectly called the statue 'Flora in hortis Matthaeorum'.
Hollstein 6; Van Gelder I.119.38-39
and Harvard Art Museums: http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/243402 [viewed 30 July 2014])

Condition: good impression with a light wrinkle/handling crease to the left side of the sheet outside of the plate area and minor toning to the right side of the sheet. I am selling this etching and the other etching by Bisschop shown below (Plate 81: Aphrodite [two views]) for a total cost of $193 AUD for the two prints as a combined purchase including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown below.









Jan de Bisschop (also known as Johannes Episcopius) (1628–71)
Plate 81: Aphrodite (two views), 1668/70
from Signorum Veterum Icones (1668)
etching on fine laid paper
(sheet) 31.7 x 19 cm; (plate) 21 x 13.3 cm
Description of this print by the British Museum: “Statue of an Aphrodite in a pudica pose with a cloth lying on a rock beside her left leg; front view and side view directed to left shown side by side”
Description by the BM curator:
The statue was lost during the fire of 1762 in the Uffizi in Florence. This type belongs to the Venus pudica type, which may have been a Hellenistic repetition. Its base and support may have been modern. The draughtsman's name is not mentioned. In his list of contents and locations de Bisschop says that the statue is "in aedibus Mediceis", a location which he otherwise used for statues inside the Villa Medici in Rome. He obviously had a drawing with the inscription 'Medici' at his disposal and did not know that the statue was actually in Florence. He further says that it is not very different from the Greek Venus "in the same palace" and that according to Cavalieri, III.IV,67, it seems it was previously in the Farnese collection (which was not the case); Cavalieri's plate in fact shows another version.
Hollstein 6; Van Gelder I.166.81

Condition: good impression with minor toning and signs of handling to the right side of the sheet. I am selling this etching and the other etching by Bisschop shown above (Plate 38: Female Statue, restored as a Nike) for a total cost of $193 AUD for the two prints as a combined purchase including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. Please contact me using the email link at the top of the page if you have any queries or click the “Buy Now” button shown above.








At this juncture I wish draw to a close this final post regarding principles at play in figure drawing. Sadly, the list of principles that I could—perhaps even should—address stretches out before me tempting me to keep writing, but hopefully when I discuss principles related to other subjects in future posts the application of these principles to figure drawing will be clear.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know your thoughts, advice about inaccuracies (including typos) and additional information that you would like to add to any post.