Pageant of the Masters: Herbert James Draper

Last month I announced a new series on the blog, Pageant of the Masters, where floral designer Ashley Beyer of Tinge Floral and Kate Osborne of Kate Osborne Photography and I team up to recreate paintings with flowers in the them. It’s been awfully dreamy so far. This time we included painter Leslie Duke, model/illustrator Michelle Christensen, and hair stylist Aubrey Nelson to (literally) complete the picture.

This month we recreated Herbert James Draper’s Pot Pourri from 1897. I was unfamiliar with Draper’s work when we selected him as our second artist in the series so I thought I’d provide some background. He was a Victorian era English painter who took a traditional path as a career painter. He studied at the Royal Academy and like the good artist he was, took frequent trips to Rome to study from the masters. He often portrayed mythological themes in his work along with portraits and became quite famous for it. By the end of his life in the early 1900s his fame had passed. It’s only now that there’s a revival in his works.

Kate, Ashley, and I gasped at the thought of recreating this painting in real life. The beautiful red and pink roses so beautifully frame the canvas and lend a romantic yet lonely feel to the woman. Is she all alone with her flowers creating an arrangement for herself? Or is she the madame of her residence creating the arrangements for a party later on in the evening? Does black indicate mourning and is it for a funeral of a loved one? I gotta find out more about this artist!

Funny story, the painting we initially found was the exact image above. BUT, in later research, after the photoshoot, we found that this painting had been cropped.

WHOOPS! Would have been good to know and it explains the dried flowers on the right side of the painting. Now you can see the blue and white vase peeking in. Note to self: research BEFORE the shoot! That said, I do rather enjoy the crop of the one we recreated.

So, the funky thing about recreating paintings is seeing just how many artistic liberties the artist takes. There are some angles of the model that I’m pretty sure aren’t humanly possible. For example, the left hand holding the bowl. To get the height of the bowl with the angle of her sleeve wouldn’t be possible in our recreation unless someone else was holding it. So I did what anyone would do and get down on the ground and hold the bowl up from below.
Another issue was the lighting. The light source in the painting was coming from all around, yet the face of the model was in darkness. Explain that one! Kate did an amazing job of recreating the lighting, but here’s how normal lighting would have been (see above). There’s no way you can get such severe shadows on her face without a little artistic license.
I have to applaud Aubrey Nelson on hair. Didn’t she nail it? And Leslie Duke‘s background. It was just the right texture.

Stay tuned for next month’s recreation!

hair by Aubrey Nelson
art direction by me

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