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Ingres, Raphael and the Fornarina

Video transcript

we're at the Harvard art museums and we're looking at I'm gonna Raphael in the foreign arena it's a strange painting but egg paintings often are a kind of strange mixture of coldness and distance and simultaneously intense sensuality it's no I completely agree and everything is painted with an amazing degree of precision so that green velvet it's just perfect and there's no sign of her brushstroke so it just seems like it is truly green velvet even the way the drapery folds has been absolutely idealized so even the aspects of the painting where we expect the artist to allow for a degree of informality even that is the most formal this is actually a genre that emerges in the 19th century of artists depicting other artists in their studio with their model which is sort of appropriate for the 19th century especially as we enter into the academic realm where even the quality of the paint the style of the paint is very often a kind of quotation of an earlier period also in this period of Romanticism where we have a kind of emerging self-consciousness on the part of the artist so that his painting Rafael and Rafael Zhang's here right Rafael the great Renaissance artist is shown here in his studio and he's just painted a portrait of his mistress a very poisonous process right the portrait is unfinished in his studio he takes a break from painting he still got his brush in his hand and wraps his arms around his mistress who sits on his lap but instead of looking at the real woman he turns his head to look back at his unfinished creation but he has her look at us yeah and he has her look at us from the portrait that he's depicted himself having just painted so this is two of her looking at it actually there's three of her looking at us and what is the third one is in the painting on the back wall which is the famous painting by Raphael called the Madonna de la sadya or the Madonna of the chair which ruffles mistress was said to have posed for and she kind of looks out at us from that back corner - so three versions of the same woman so this is Srila sort of triangulation because we have a group depicting Raphael looking at his well at his depiction of his mistress who in turn looks out at us as we look back at her and catch her gaze to me it's about aang himself and his need to paint that eye that feeling of being in the middle of something and even when your mistress comes to you and insists on your taking a break and sitting on your lap you keep the brush in your hand and you turn back to look and and the act of painting is so engaging and so wonderful and the process of creation is so wonderful that nothing can and should disturb it see I disagree really because I think it's not about the act of painting although that's very close by and so actually I agree with a lot of what you're saying but I think would really Trump's it is the act of seeing because it's Raphael seeing what he's rendered it's and it's us seeing and it's in a sense trying to actually create in a sense of the world of Raphael for us it's a funny thing because we are looking at a painting of a painter looking at his painting and actually looking at his painting within it