Monday, September 22, 2008
Quinn: Pisanello (c. 1395 - c. 1455)
This image, Portrait of a Princess of the House of Este, intrigued me by demonstrating a lot of things that we don't want to do. Probably the first thing you'll notice is just how two-dimensional our Princess of Este looks. The problem is exacerbated by the unnaturally perfect profile view. Moreover, it is very difficult to discern spatial relationships between objects. The butterfly at the top-left: is it in front of our Princess or behind? The butterfly on the right must be behind the Princess, but this is only obvious because it is investigating a flower in the background. I think part of the problem is too much detail in the background: the flowers don't need to be that clearly formed if we're focusing on the Princess. Also, we get the same perfect profile view of the bush! Does it not fall back a few feet into the distance? (Maybe I am being too hard on Sig. Pisanello here, as his dark shades have gotten darker to the point of being nearly indistinguishable today.) Anyway, I find the painting rather charming in a medieval sort of way. It definitely got me thinking about lazy things I've been doing in my own sketchbook.