By Dillian Gordon
. lge fmt, 1981 illus, 2223pp
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Additional info for 100 Great Paintings - Duccio to Picasso
Here the sombre brown eyes, set mouth, and pronounced but solemn dimple turn inquiringly as if to put that very same question in Browning's poem back at us. The earnest young man holds an indistinguishable grey object, perhaps a piece of clay or marble, or a book, which has led to suggestions that he may be a sculptor or writer. Otherwise the painting is bare of clues as to the identity, status, foibles, or interests of the sitter. The background is a plain, stern grey. The bulk of the triangular blue-grey sleeve, almost chiselled out of fabric and echoing the shape of his hat, is thrust forbiddingly forward, placing a barrier between him and the spectator, in a way very similar to Titian's Portrait of a Man with a blue sleeve (see p.
As well as being a painter, he was skilled at casting medallions and the head of St. Eustace here seen in profile is closely related to his medallion portraits of such people as Lionello d'Este and Sigismondo Malatesta. 16 A painter of the Umbrian school Designed upon a gesso ground The nimbus of the Baptized God The wilderness is cracked and browned. But through the water pale and thin Still shine the unoffending feet And there above the painter set The Father and the Paraclete. (from T. S. Eliot, when he wrote Mr Eliot's Sunday Morning Service) those lines, was perhaps thinking of this one of the most famous in the Collection.
The syncopated rhythm of the figures who unfold across the composition from right to left comes from the brush of painter, but also architect an artist used to painting large-scale narrative scenes in frescoes: olive greens, pinks and oranges are interwoven in isolated blocks of virtually monochromatic colour. Looped together by the shroud which supports Christ's inert slumping body, they have the compact unity of having been hewn from a single piece of stone. As in Michelangelo's sculpture, the forms seem to be inherent, waiting to be discovered by the artist, by adding colour, rather than by chipping away stone.
100 Great Paintings - Duccio to Picasso by Dillian Gordon