Carlo Dolci Copy

Anthony spied this on the zoom hangout a while ago, and I said I would upload, but being less than pleased with it held off, until I cared no longer about it - that time is now!


So here’s my version above.

This in my opinion is his best picture by far. There’s something about the expression, light and upward gaze just works for me, so I had a crack at it. Now there are a bunch of things off, the feature placement is critical and I have this wrong which makes it look like a different person, so fail there. Then I haven’t gone for a smooth finish either, which I should have so that sucks. I think after I realised this wasn’t easily corrected I kinda gave up, but covered the canvas anyway, I wasn’t going to do the stars but thought it was probably good practise as I’ve not painted anything like that before. His edges are also much softer, so that’s something I will aim at in future too.

Here is a close up of the face on the original:-


Pretty cool eh! As an aside - Dolci was a notoriously slow painter, very deliberate and methodical. Apparently he witnessed Luca Giordano knock a section of a work out in a few hours that would have taken him months, and fell into a massive steaming depression about it. So at least I have that over him, as I think mine was about 14 hours all in to this point.

My main issue to critique is, what would the best approach be for getting the blue fabric? I believe I made a mistake in that after a faint sketch for placement I went straight in with ultramarine and Prussian blue and tried to get the shapes and values right with those, but I hadn’t anticipated how transparent they were, even chucking them on real thick, so I started mixing with white in varying degrees to make them opaque and this kinda worked - but close up there’s a hint of patchiness caused by uneven layers underneath showing through. So all the blue oils I have are transparent, but I understand that cerulean is an opaque blue, so I could get some of that. Alternatively should I have just done a grisaille or monochrome, got it spot on with values and then glazed it. Any thoughts/recommendations welcome!

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Ha! I definitely spied this—it was hard to miss this amazing piece. Bravo Martin. This looks really fantastic!!! <3 <3 <3

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Hi Martin. This is a beautiful painting to copy (I adore that upward facing palm in the original) although I was not familiar with Dolci). You definitely did a great job with the copy. I’ve never attempted one like this. I’m no art historian, but I believe in order to get those soft edges, super soft value gradations, and luminous darks, you would have to start with a grisaille, apply glazes, and then scumble very small amounts of white or similar into the wet glaze to bring back the lights each time, creating a sfumato effect. I learned this process from a tutorial and I’ve used it in some paintings successfully. I can send you the link if you are interested.

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Sure - I’d certainly be interested to look at the tutorial you mention. yes, my problem in the main was rushing it, so all my own doing, and once the likeness was ruined I didn’t feel like spending time rendering it out. So I intend at some point to just do a study of the face, and also that hand you mention (stunning isn’t it!), then I wont feel so pressed to get a move on in order to realise the whole piece.

Incidentally, this seems to stick out for me as Dolci’s best work, not a great amount of the others are anywhere near as impressive in my opinion, it has that delicate combination of softly rendered good looks, dramatic pose and chiaroscuro which I really enjoy. Although I would happily leave the stars/halo out (and almost did).

I’d probably like to do a Mona Lisa face too come to think of it, just to see if I can hit the sfumato about the eyes on the right note. Although too many ideas, too little time at present.

I posted a thread about Tom Keating the other day, if you scroll down on that - the episodes regarding Titian and Rembrandt are very heavy on glazes and scumbles which you may well be interested in checking out, they’re quite short.

Thanks for the kind words!

I see you are a lover of Baroque painting. I lived in Madrid for a few years and spent a lot of time at El Prado, enjoying Velázquez, Murillo, Ribera, Caravaggio, Titian, etc.

It looks like the original site for that tutorial was taken down but I found it on this blog: Patrick Howe's Oil Painting Student Blog: VERMEER EXERCISE

See what you think.

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