February 20, 2013

For the Love of French Sculpture

My husband and I took a tour some years ago of the Glyptotek Art Museum in Munich. The purpose of the visit was to see the Barbarini Faun. He was everything we had anticipated and I have some drawings of him somewhere. But what really caught my eye and piqued my curiosity was the French sculpture housed nearby. I made several quick sketches from various angles of a sculpture there depicting a common subject of carnal desire - the nymph and the faun. I n such scenes the nymph is usually delighting in the unbridled lust of the faun - despite his rather conspicuous horns, goat legs and a tail for good measure. When I made these sketches, I left these usual trappings of the faun out of the picture. They somehow just seemed to keep getting in the way of the composition. But on account of this omission, the faun now took on a more human countenance.

I made several paintings from these sketches of what began as mythology and ended as a depiction of consenting adult human beings, for I stuck with leaving off the bestial part of the faun. A good call too, for I live in the Bible Belt of South Carolina and an image of a female cavorting with a goat-legged man sporting horns probably would not go over well.

The small oil on wood paintings that I made of the pair have all found their way to permanent collections, one of them in the Columbia Museum of Art. There was both money and posterity to be made from these images. I generally sell only about one in ten of the works I make but every painting I made of this couple was snapped up by eager patrons. I could not bring myself to continue with them, however. My finished drawing of this couple, as well as the detail of the back view, now sit in retirement in my portfolio. They served me well.

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