I would love to know more, more than I read in catalogues, not solely about the sitter or who his mum and dad were and how he was related to the king, not only about the artist or where he grew up, not just about the meaning of the carnation in the skirt embroidery or the latest fashion of slashed sleeves....but also about how the artist painted. The composition, the choice of colour, the 'style' and manner of painting, the love of nature, patterns, textures and how that was translated in paint. Nobody talks about *the painting*, only about the people depicted in it. I don't know if I will find out but it seems there is some room for research here. I imagine, for now, that places to start would be continental prints and pattern books, Jacobean architecture but also the thirst for realism in painting. Another path might be the sense of 'acting' in a portrait, of 'portraying' yourself in paint, for the world to see. Theatricality must have gained in importance in the art of portrait painting in the time when Shakespeare was at his height and masques were celebrated at court.
|William Larkin, portrait of Mary Radclyffe, 1610-13|