Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Creative facial hair

(Master of St. Giles, active 1490-1510. French)

This is the head of Saint Giles, who took the arrow aimed at a hind. What peaks my interest is the asymmetry of his beard: it’s attached to his lip and mustache on the left of the face, but not on the right.

The rest of the painting presents realistic perspectives and details. I’d have to think the unusual facial hair is true to some fact the artist learned. But maybe not. Maybe it’s a visual reflection of the artist’s own experience of looking – a “mistake” he let slip, but that gives the work a vitality that the rest of the image doesn’t quite possess, being as it is, stiff with reality.

The stripes of the hunter's shirt lend some pizazz too, no?

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