Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Big Diptych

Well, look who's back! Yes, I drove home safely from Massachusetts where I had been helping my aged mother and her art show. Before that, at the beginning of my tour of duty, I delivered the "Angelic Portrait" to its owner. Here is its image. I will explain the components, left to right. The painting is a diptych, two hinged panels meant to fold in the center. It is based on the "Wilton Diptych," an English royal devotional painting from about 1395, showing King Richard II  flanked by his saintly patrons, kneeling before a blue-clad host of holy angels and the Virgin and Child.

The richly clad Queen figure is Saint Anne, whose day is July 26. Saint Anne is one of the patrons of the portrait client whose middle name is Anne. Saint Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary who you see in light blue as a little girl. In the center of the left panel is the Archangel Michael, a warrior in red and gold Byzantine armor. The red-haired lady in the blue monkish robe is the Portrait Patron.

Second panel: The flaming sword of mystical chivalry floats in front of the holy beings and our portraitee. In the center is the Virgin Mary as an adult, in blue veil and red robe, holding the Baby Jesus, who is waving at us (or blessing us). Behind, in blue with trumpet, is the Archangel Gabriel, herald of heaven. Upper right corner is Archangel Uriel, angel of Death, holding an inverted torch which is an ancient symbol of mortality and extinguishing. In the lower right hand corner in yellow is Archangel Raphael, angel of healing, holding a mortar and pestle with sacred herbs in it.

In the background of the first panel you can see architectural towers out a window. This is the skyline of Philadelphia, near where the Portrait client lives. In the original medieval devotional portraits, you see a castle or cathedral through the window. She wanted to add a real place to the heavenly scene.

I added the gold-colored border in Photoshop but in reality it will be a gilded wooden frame hinged in the middle so it can be folded. The back of the Diptych is a simple shade of blue blending to light blue, with no pictorial elements.

This painting took at least three months to do. The original Wilton Diptych was painted in egg tempera, but I used acrylic in an egg-tempera style to do it. Since it is not that big a painting, and full of details, I used tiny brushes hardly bigger than a cat's whisker.

The "Angelic Portrait" diptych is 2 panels, each 10" x 15" plus gold border (under the frame). 
Acrylic on hardboard, first half of 2015.
You are invited to click on the picture to see an enlarged view. 


Maggie McNeely said...


Tristan Alexander said...

Very medieval looking, lots of nice details. Is the background real gold (I missed if you said so in the write up).