Thursday, July 26, 2012


This diptych was started in early May, then ran into problems and got sidetracked by the arrival of all the hat paintings. When work resumed on it, I decided to go with a very neutral palette, keeping to warm subdued tones ... perhaps I needed some quiet after the colorful hats, perhaps it just suited having coffee in the morning. The blue sky is the single significant cool note, hopefully bringing life to the grays and pale ochres.

each half is 6" x 4 1/2"     oil on linen     2012

This painting did not begin as a diptych; the original drawing was square with a man facing the woman from the front.

6" x 6"     pencil on paper with pastel on reverse   2012
Private Collection, Massachusetts

I painted the woman, her hand and her cup of coffee, but the man proved resistant, becoming a nuisance and creating a major problem. While the drawing works well with him there, the painting thought better of the idea. Have mentioned before that they have a life of their own. The painting was put aside.

Left:   Coffee in progress      6" x 6"
Right: Coffee in progress      resized to 6" x 4 1/2"

When I brought it back to the easel a couple weeks ago, I decided to get rid of the troublesome man, to change him to a profile view and move him a bit away from the woman. The painting was on a piece of unstretched linen and the image could have been extended to the right with no problem, but I realized the composition would also work very well as a diptych. An inch and a half was taken away from the right side, and a new "panel" was started for the man.

The diptych has always been an interesting concept for me; each half being distinct from the other, yet usually closely related. One of my favorite paintings is the double portrait of Federico da Montefeltro and his wife, Battista Sforza, by Piero della Francesca.

Battista Sforza and Federico da Montefltro
Piero della Francesca
each panel 18 1/2" x 13"   tempera on panel  ca. 1465
Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Federico da Montefeltro (1422–1482), Duke of Urbino, was both a successful warlord and a great humanist. His odd profile is the result of a disfiguring sword blow during a tournament that cost him his right eye and part of his nose. Some accounts say that he had the remaining bridge of his nose removed surgically, to improve his field of vision to the right. He commissioned a number of portraits … all in profile from the left side.

Battista Sforza (1445/1447-1472) was the second wife of Federico da Montefeltro, marrying him in 1459 at the age of thirteen (or fourteen); she died in 1472 a few months after giving birth to her seventh child … or ninth … sources on these dates and facts seem to vary. She was a highly educated woman, fluent in Greek and Latin, and acting regent of Urbino when her husband was away at war.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew,

    About Battista Sforza. One source* that I like says she was born in January 1446, her marriage to Federico da Montefeltro happened on February 10, 1460 (a month after her 14th birthday), and she had eight children: Costanza (died as an infant), Giovanna, Isabetta (or Elisabetta), Costanza, Violanta, Chiara, Agnesina, and Guidobaldo.


    * Ms. Maike Vogt-Luerssen



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