Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ciseri’s Light Interactions

The religious painting “Ecce Homo” of Antonio Ciseri has a startling realism that comes in part from his sensitivity to light interactions.

Ciseri was born in Switzerland in 1821 and studied in at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence under Florence under Niccola Benvenuti.

Note the soft edges in the hand in shadow at (1). Crisp edges should be reserved for elements in full illumination. At (2), look at the warm reflected light on the arm of the figure in this grouping.

At (3), check out the contre-jour handling of Christ’s figure. The top and side planes of Christ’s figure are raised in value so that they almost blend with the sky—a device that James Bama used almost a century later on Bantam paperback covers.

Pilate’s draped figure is rendered with extreme attention to transmitted light through various layers of fabric. This might have been aided by photography (the painting is from 1880, when many artists were using photographs).

But I would bet he also did charcoal studies of the nude model first and that he also set up a draped lay figure in a doorway. I’ll talk about lay figures on a future post.
Thanks, Keita!
Wikipedia on Antonio Ciseri
Ciseri on Art Renewal
Previous GJ Posts on transmitted light, contre-jour lighting, and reflected light (croquet balls).


Kurt said...

What is the size of the original painting? It is stunning.

Darren said...

For those in Minnesota, there's a copy of the original (by Ciseri as well) at the art gallery of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church (http://hennepinchurch.org/music-and-arts/art-gallery).

Both the painting in Florence and the one in Minneapolis are roughly 11' wide by 9.5' high.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Darren for the info. Good to file away next time we're in Minnesota.

Andrew Finnie said...

wow thanks for the notes on the painting, wonderful stuff, that's a great point about Christ's tonal similarity to the sky in those areas, gives that nice glow as well

Dagoelius said...

Another great find you have put me onto James. This is one of those peices that just makes you draw your breath in and hold... like seeing Bouguereau's Pieta for the first time.