Yesterday’s “spot the swipe” challenge brought out some sharp eyes. Emilio, Jamin, Mark, John, and David picked up on the British painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Here’s a typical picture of his called "Expectations" with the classic Roman-style marble plaza by the sea.
Mark and David also noticed the Maxfield Parrish influence. Parrish loved to paint figure groupings in black and white polka-dotted or striped costumes. This painting is called “Florentine Fete.” Come to think of it, another artist known for black and white striped fabric was James Tissot, but his stuff wasn’t front-of-mind at the time.
The next one is a bit more obscure: William Merritt Chase’s “A Friendly Call.” I’ve always loved the pose, because it’s both polite and confrontational. Homage or rip-off? You tell me.
John and Cat were right about the guy pointing upward. That's me, all right. I was thinking of Raphael’s “School of Athens,” shown here in detail. David got that. You remember that painting. It’s the one every philosophy teacher trots out to contrast Plato's idealism with Aristotle's materialism. Aristotle is the empiricist gesturing down to the ground and Plato is the rationalist pointing up to the unseen world. When you read the Chandara book, the allusion will make more sense.
After I finished the painting, I remembered that DaVinci’s “Last Supper” also had the same pointing gesture, and it was painted around the same time as Raphael's, so I suppose it's fair that Meredith, Mark, and David should be given a point on that one, too. So by my tally, David is the winner with four points, and Mark a close second with three.
I don’t know if there are any conclusions to draw about borrowing. A guy coming out of the confessional should stay out of the pulpit. But I would propose for your consideration the following four rules:
1. It’s better policy to borrow from heroes who are long dead.
2. Don’t base anything on one artist; look at three or four.
3. Never assume your swipes will pass unnoticed.
4. Go ahead and look at the other fellow’s art, but at some point, put away the art books, pose your own models, and base your final work on that.
Borrowing, Part 1