Thursday, 5 April 2012

Jamie Routley In The BP Portrait Awards

My very talented friend Jamie Routley has submitted a beautiful triptych of Tony Lewis to the BP Portrait Awards and has rather a flattering write-up in The Guardian. Clever Jamie.

Tony Lewis - Jamie Routley
Triptychs in portraiture are not uncommon. Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) painted Charles I's face and profiles so the sculptor Bernini needn't travel to England to sculpt the monarch. The triptych provided all of the information he needed, such was Van Dyck's brilliance. Don't be fooled by his dates either. The elegance with which he approached painting had a monumental impact on portraiture in England for hundreds of years.

Charles I - Anthony Van Dyck 1635 - 1636
The Royal Collection
Van Dyck's work still resonates. Time and time again, Il Maestro in Italy would hit my canvas with a mile stick asking where I'd put my 'Van Dyck Zee', an expression he coined for the shadow that runs across one eyebrow, down the nose and under it. We spent hours scouring books and visiting galleries to see how Van Dyck had positioned hands in his paintings. They're a tricky business and I loved that his were a little camp, very au fait. At the Van Dyck exhibition at Tate Britain in 2009, the show could have been a very fancy dress night at G.A.Y. Yet they are also incredibly elegant and you never really notice them until you specifically look. Perfect. Il Maestro could be a little antiquated in his tastes but it ran true none the less.

My mega crush Sargent (1856 - 1925) uses some of Van Dyck's approaches to portraiture. In each of the Miss Vickers faces' there are strong 'Van Dyck Zees' and just look at the relaxed elegance of the hand positions.

The Misses Vickers - John Singer Sargent 1884

Do go see the BP Portrait Awards. It starts at the National Portrait Gallery in London and tours the country. And it's free. Please do look out for lovely Jamie's paintings, all elegant fingers crossed he wins.

BP Portrait Awards

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