For the longest time, I have been less than confident about the identity of the gentleman in the figure below. I have been reasonably sure that he is the Baroque painter, Anthony van Dyck--but I wouldn't have bet on it.
I became more confident that the figure is indeed Van Dyck when I discovered the pair of figures below. The gentleman on the right is of the same form, and he has artists brushes and a palette at his feet--just as you would expect for one of the foremost painter of those times. But what of the figure at the left? Again, I was plunged into uncertainty. His body is just like that of his companion, but his head is different, and instead of artists paraphernalia, he has a sword.
This week, I was plowing through Fire and Form, the new English Ceramic Circle publication on the Baroque and its influence on ceramics. I must admit I have put off this reading task because much of what the ECC publishes is about porcelain. I know I must read about porcelain figures of all sorts because they often teach me about earthenware figures, so I curled up on the sofa with Johnny Be Goode beside me for comfort. Imagine my delight in discovering that the figure on the left has an earlier porcelain look-alike, and it depicts yet another great Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens. Both apparently are after mid-eighteenth century Bow porcelain models, which are, in turn, after John Michael Rysbrack. I think an intermediary plaster may have assisted with their modeling. The mystery is solved, and how appropriate that these two Flemish gentleman were modeled as a pair.
Yesterday, I glanced through the forthcoming auction offerings, and my eye hit the grotesque figure below, described as Shakespeare.
Shakespeare this is not! Instead, we have a figure of Van Dyck that seems to have been given a new and very ugly head. I am thinking he has a new right arm too as well as a new left hand. Oh dear! When figures like this get damaged, the remains pose a problem. It is very difficult to put something that is a piece of history into the trash, but what do you do with it? Had this figure been perfect, it would have not been the most commercially appealing figure, but headless and armless....I am not wise enough to know what should have been done with it. I leave that to the owner to decide!
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