Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Beethoven

I am sharing the series of family masterpieces that were the elements of this years family Christmas Card this week. I have shared my Girl With The Pearl Earring and now it's time for Beethoven.

This year I realized how diverse each of my family members are. Each their own work of art, different strengths and skills like the different skills poured into the iconic paintings they represent by the respective artists. Differences in style, era, and color pallets much like a metaphor to illustrate each individual.

Ludwig van Beethoven is my favorite classical composer. His fury and passion you can feel through his music. He also had a serious hearing impairment and wrote his most famous work, 9th Symphony - Ode to Joy when he was completely deaf. An amazing example of overcoming obstacles associated with "disabilities" and creating a unique masterpiece.

I wanted to present my interpretation of Joseph Karl Stieler's Portrait of Beethoven,  painted in 1819, with oil on canvas - 62 × 50 cm (24.4 × 19.7 in)

Journey of the portrait:
*Commissioned by Franz and Antonie Brentano in 1819/20
*Purchased by raffle by the brother of Louis Spohr at a raffle run by the Art Association of Brunswick
* Following Spohr's death it was inherited by his daughter Rosalie, the Countess Sauerma a harpist
* 10 February 1909 Purchased by music company C.F. Peters Henri Hinrichsen
*Mr. Hinrichsen was murdered in Auschwitz 17 Sept 1942 and the painting went to his son
*Walter Hinrichsen took it to New York to hang in his office
*1981 it was sold to Beethoven House in Bonn Germany where it still hangs

Information about the painting was taken from Beethoven's conversation books, "Stieler was permitted four sittings between February and April 1820. This "concession" - Beethoven considered such sittings to be a kind of penance - was not only due to Stieler's artistic ability but also to Franz and Antonie Brentano, who commissioned the portrait. Beethoven was happy to grant them this concession as he had been close to them since 1809 and once referred to them as his "best friends in the world". source

The painting was created on commission by the married couple Franz and Antonie Brentano, who had been friends of Beethoven since around 1810. Beethoven's conversation [sic] books give rather detailed information on the origins of the painting. The composer was sitting for the painter four times - a very unusual high number of sittings, since Beethoven is said to have been unable to sit still. The hands in the painting had to be painted from the artists memory as Beethoven could not be persuaded to sit any longer.

Stieler's portrait of Beethoven distinguishes itself above all through two novel elements. First of all - in contrast to all other contemporary paintings - it shows the composer while he is performing his art. Beethoven is holding a pen and seems to be working on the Credo of his "Missa solemnis". The face of the manuscript he is holding says: "Missa solemnis / From D # (# stands for Major)"; on the page facing the composer, the word "Credo" can be recognized. Further on, Stieler shows the view to a forest landscape in the background and by doing this, he - for the first time - combines a portrait of Beethoven with the romantic motif of nature. Beethoven's well-known love of nature and his famous "Sinfonia pastoral" op.68, with its haunting musical description of nature, provided him the biographical clues for such a depiction. Both motifs - "Beethoven composing" and "Beethoven in nature" - became very popular during the further course of the 19th and 20th century, and until today, fine artists again and again were depicting those motifs. source  

Unedited original of my step-son as Beethoven

Edit #1 With the painting background

*Wardrobe: I.N.C. Military style jacket (similar trim to Beethoven's in the portrait)

*Red Cashmere scarf - tied slightly different than the painting to cover the ruffled bodice of the 70's men's tuxedo shirt used.
*The book prop was created and the actual sheet music placed inside the book.

All of the makeup, wardrobe, digital editing, card creation and images were created and taken by me.

Edit in frame and used in the gallery of our card.

Watch our Masterpiece Theatre, Journey of a Card:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Girl With The Pearl Earring

Every year my family and I produce a themed Holiday Greeting which also doubles as our family photo for the year. I have posted about previous years; Alice in Wonderland, Game Of Thrones, Candyland and 101 Dalmatians. Each theme represented something to us during that time period.

This year I realized how diverse each of my family members are. Each their own work of art, different strengths and skills like the different skills poured into the iconic paintings they represent by the respective artists. Differences in style, era, and color pallets much like a metaphor to illustrate each individual.

I chose "Girl With The Pearl Earring" for my daughter Kaleigh because the complexity if this piece is found in its simplicity, just like her. She is so beautiful and this painting really had the ability to showcase my daughters beauty. She is the center of our gallery as she is the center of my universe. She is thus, My Girl With Pearl Earring.

I did all of the wardrobe, makeup, photos and editing this year. A huge mountain to climb so I did 6 individual shoots. Her (clip on) pearl earring is Vintage and didn't have a mate. The mustard fabrics are actually large linen table cloth pieces that I found at a thrift store as well as the blue stretch fabric for the headband. I spent $3.50 on both and as a wardrobe stylist for Evolution Vintage I had the earring on hand. With time and imagination, anything is possible. We shot hundreds of images and chose the one above as I felt it most resembled the composition and the spirit of the original work.

The original was painted by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and estimated to be painted in 1665, the painting was signed but not dated. It became part of the Mauritshuis in The Hague in the Netherlands in 1902. It is a small piece, 17.5" X 15", oil on canvas. 

There has been much speculation about who the model was for this painting (actually called "tronie" - in dutch it is a study of head and shoulders dressed in exotic clothing - it is not technically a portrait). Because it is an unresolved mystery people for centuries have projected their own story onto the figure. It spawned a novel (that has sold over 3 million copies) and a feature Hollywood film adapted from the novel/ I feel one of the most beautiful elements of the work is the mystery. who do you think the girl is? So much is open for interpretation.

Details are important in my projects. I placed my daughters finished photo in the same frame that hangs in the Hague.

Watch how the entire card was created! *Sound Up*