My version of Portrait of a Young Girl by Petrus Christus (work in progress)

A couple months ago decided I should take a bit of a break from my own original paintings and study some more old-master type paintings and drawings in order to learn.

Here’s one of the paintings I am working on, I started this in mid-February 2009. The original is by Petrus Christus and is referred to as Portrait of a Young Girl or Portrait of a Young Lady, etc. I’m painting it with oil on panel in an 11×14 inch size, although I think the original is closer to 8×10 inches:

Petrus Christus study work in progress

Petrus Christus study work in progress

I found two fairly hi-res photos of this work, one is very cracked and the other seemed to have less cracks in it. After comparing the two though I realized that it just looks like they blurred one to remove the cracks, as well as cropped it, and the coloration and contrast is way different than the other and it’s even a bit rotated too! I now know that I need to seek out a bunch of photos of a famous piece of art since they can be wildly different.

Even though the drawing is pretty simple, it took a while to get her to look the same, she kept looking older in my version. The original is kinda odd, especially the nose and the right eye. I noticed that the original looks really strange when you look at it in a mirror. This is the first master-level painting that I have seen that looks weird when viewed in that way, every other one I have tried looks perfect in a mirror.

Partly because the original is so cracked and it’s hard to see some details, I am deviating in many respects from the original. I’m basically duplicating the form of the painting but partly in my own style. One thing that is awesome about this is that her gaze really follows you around the room, it’s rather eerie.

I did the face and skin in a raw umber dead layer underpainting first. Once I was satisfied with that, after many sessions and many hours, I started glazing transparent combinations of yellow ochre, burnt umber, and vermillion (hue) over the dry underpainting. The background was also painted with a few layers of glazed burnt sienna and burnt umber.

I still have a ways to go on this one. The decorative band around the hat has been very difficult, but I think I am close to figuring out how to do it.

*Update: For the completed painting see: http://www.chromaticblack.com/completed/petrus-christus-study-completed-portrait-of-a-young-lady

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