by CAM Social Media
We’ve asked Cincinnati Art Museum lovers to send us thoughts and feelings about an artwork at the Art Museum! Each week, we feature one interpretation here on our blog. This week, artist Paul Loehle describes why he is drawn to and inspired by Frank Duveneck’s Portrait of Girl with Hat.
As a figurative drawer/painter I am drawn like a magnet to portraits on any visit to any museum… and CAM is no exception. The work of Frank Duveneck in particular is familiar, local, and inviting… and as a Cincinnatian I can’t help feeling obliged to pay homage to The Cincinnati wing of the museum, regardless of the purpose of my visit, with a necessary pause in the Duveneck room.
While all of Duveneck’s work shows virtuosity and a careful study of Rembrandt (one of my favorites), I tend to enjoy his looser, in-progress paintings. One in particular, an “unfinished” piece simply titled “Portrait of Girl with Hat” stands out in an understated way. It’s a small painting, maybe 9×12, and hung salon-style beneath another piece and lower than eye level, so it’s easy to overlook. Nevertheless, it has something special… the atypical profile view of the face, drawn with meticulous perfection, drew me in to look closer. Once on its level, I could immediately notice a patchwork of small brushstrokes, stacked neatly from chin to forehead like bricks of color, that the artist had never smoothed. This quality pulls you instantly back and forth between the masterful illusion of familiar flesh, painted in a Rembrandt palette, and the fact of the painting’s creation… each delicate stroke marking the time it took to make.
As an unfinished piece, the Portrait becomes both about the artistic process and its ultimate, if impossible, goal of emulating reality. It reminds me of why I draw and paint.
Share an Interpretation on CAM’s blog! Send your #MyInterpretationMonday to [email protected] and we will feature your perspective on an upcoming Monday!*
*We may not be able to post all entries we receive due to volume of entries and/or copyright restrictions.
Frank Duveneck (American, b.1848, d.1919); Profile of Girl with Hat, c.1878; oil on canvas
Gift of the Artist, 1915.109