I was drawing at the National Gallery of Art yesterday — practicing figurative drawing for the regular life class I attend — and made this drawing after Jules Dalou’s portrait of Alphonse Legros. I suppose they had an idea about hair — as an expressive feature — that really gets exploited in 19th century art. In Alphonse Legros’s own self-portrait (see below) he seems to have somewhat less dramatic hair than that with which Dalou portrays him.
While I was drawing the sculpture, I got very caught up in the features of Legros’s magnificent, fictional, lionesque mane. My drawing is inside a 9 1/2 by 6 1/4 inch Stillman and Birn notebook. I also made a slightly larger drawing on Strathmore drawing paper (not pictured). And I’m eager to get back to the museum soon and make some more drawings after the sculpture — because — the hair!
Here’s a photo of the sculpture on NGA’s website — different angle — but it’s a link to an image that you can zoom into if you’re so inclined ….
At first I thought the bust was by Rodin because the room is full of Rodin sculptures of various sorts and sizes. I had never heard of Dalou before, but now I learn that he was an amazing sculptor with a quite expansive, varied oeuvre.
And while looking for information about the National Gallery’s Rodins, I happened upon a fabulous Rodin drawing that NGA owns. The link below also has a zoom feature. So, I’m thinking about this kind of drawing too as inspiration for life class. How freely Rodin approached the figure, but of course his freedom is built on tons of knowledge. Here’s the link to the drawing:
So many things to see, so many things to draw, ain’t life grand?!