In my bid to learn to draw better portraits, I’m working through a while range of colours of exemplars. I was given the wonderful David Hokney book, the History of Pictures for my birthday. It is full of wonderful things. I have just started a copy of a sleeping soldier by Piero de la Francesco. Long way to go yet.
Drawing a model who looks like a benevolent pirate. Started out by splashing acrylic paint all over the paper. Once that was dried, drawing the figure in charcoal and a little colour. Aiming at detail in just selected areas. The first attempt was awful, but these three are not too bad.
I think she is wonderful. It is the contrast of her completely modern body against that fabulous backdrop of egyptian hieroglyphics that always catches my eye. This is what ancient Egyptians must have actually looked like. How Klimt got away with her flaunting herself like this on the main staircase into the new Royal gallery I don’t know. The Viennese were so messed up about propriety and sexuality. I can see why Freud had so much fun getting old Wienerins to talk smut to him. It’s an endlessly fascinating city.
She starts to emerge. I’ve managed to get her left arm tangled up in the gilded Corinthian capital on the right. I really should measure these things out and not just do it by eye.
My copy of Klimt’s egyptian goddess advances. I have just about completed her background. I can’t put off drawing her for much longer. Doing all of this in pastel is quite a challenge, in particular because of the small scale. The whole picture is only eight inches tall
I moved to Vienna when I was eight. We were taken to the Kunsthistorische museum on a number of visits. All I can remember was the egyptian carvings. I think I liked them, even then. I must have seen Klimt’s naked egyptian, up over the staircase. She made no impression then, but I was only eight! I look at her every time we go back now. She is glorious. High time I tried to draw her.
Klimt’s third posthumous portrait of Ria Munk was the one her mother liked and kept, even though Klimt himself died before he finished it. The first was of Ria on her death bed, which was a bit grim. The second was of Ria dancing semi naked amongst flowers. Her mother wasn’t too keen on that, although I can see what Klimt was getting at. The final on was accepted even though unfinished but it had an even sadder life. Stolen by the Nazis whilst Ria’s mother was murdered by them. I like the second version best, which I have seen in New York. I may try a version of it one day.
Ria looks a bit lanterned jawed in this sketch, but she does also in the original. It was unfinished…