The has been a very transformative year. We moved north and have settled in a loft-like condo in the metro DC area. I moved my studio into my every day living space. And we just made it through Snowzilla, The Blizzard of 2016. I do love an adventure.
I started The Assignment right before the holidays when I was just settling in to my new space. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out painting in an alcove off the living room. I had been so spoiled by my private studio space over our garage at our last home. But we opted for more urban living and downsizing went with it.
Heck, after months of turmoil moving everything in to storage after a quick closing and looking for a new home, I wasn’t sure if I could remember how to draw, let alone create a painting that I would love. When I am away from my art for too long, I always doubt my skill. This time was no different. It never gets completely comfortable, thank goodness.
But slowly I started craving my studio time again. I took the metro in to Washington DC to The National Gallery of Art to see if that would shake up my creativity, and as I wandered through the elegant galleries of the west wing I spied Agostina by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. I remembered when I had been in front of this particular painting a year ago, and a photo I had taken for future reference. I keep huge files from my museum wanderings.
I went back home and reminded myself of what I saw. Four women were deeply involved in the painting, notebooks in hand. But they weren’t writing they were looking and thinking…not a cell phone in site. I love these women.
I guessed they had a common bond in their assignment, but they also were alike in their obvious interest in the art. I could sense their thoughtful contemplation. They were each so different, yet they had a bond.
As I snapped away a man came rushing past the group. The perfect foil for their quiet study. They were at rest. I like to think I know them, although I can’t really. While I was painting them, I became part of the group, and we were all communicating with Agostina, a very soulful image.
Agostina Segatori was a famous artists’ model and the proprietress of a cafe in Paris in the second half of the 1800s. She obviously knew Corot who painted this portrait and sat for Manet, Delacroix and Dantan. Van Gogh mentioned her in two of his letters. It is believed they had a relationship in the spring of 1887, and he painted two portraits of her.
And so these women of the twenty-first century connect with this enigmatic woman of the 19th.
I love art museums where worlds collide in peaceful harmony.
Note: After a quick run back to The National Gallery of Art to look at the work again, I realized I had made Agostina too bright. I went back to my studio and took out some of the Disney princess aspect of my original attempt. Although I don’t pretend to copy the works exactly, I think this version looks closer in mood to the master work.
The Assignment, oil on linen, 40″ x 30″