Loved from Afar
November 29, 2012
There’s a famous Degas drawing, an étude pour Sémiramis, that I have always loved. It’s made using graphite, watercolor and gouche and lives at the Louvre, I think. A friend of mine saw the original once in an exhibition. But I have known it only distantly from books. Looking through one of those books yesterday, I decided to draw it quickly. And I discovered to my surprise that I no longer believe he made it from life. (Please note, that some art historian somewhere has researched the matter and published his opinions definitively whereas this question of mine is totally personal.)
I used to assume that the old masters could do anything. And they could! But even in their being able to leap over tall buildings with a single bound they still bent to earth and did things in ways that afterwards might strike us as normal. And so it was that I now conclude that Degas made his drapery study from a mannekin. In his drawing she has no head and her lack thereof relates to her having possessed perhaps an uncomely stuffed mannekin sort of head that the artist found uninteresting to study for his painting of Sémiramis! (Evidently she lacked the pizazz of my Doll with Big Hair.)
So instead he concentrated all his attention on the drapery of a wonderful garment! I wonder where he got that from?!
And ladies, I ask you, why don’t we all wear dresses like this today? We could dress like rock stars, we could ….