St. Anthony of the Desert Revisited…once again

That darn anchorite keeps following me around, this time not so much in the desert but in a lush, abundant landscape inspired by the German Romantic painter Jakob Phillip Hackert (1737-1807). 

The Temptations of St.Anthony of the Desert in an Italian Landscape (after Jakob Phillip Hackert, 1778)
2020
Oil on canvas
24 by 36 inches

It wasn’t really my intention to once again return to Anthony and his desert travails, at least not yet (currently more immersed in fairylands, bogles, goblins and pixiefolk). But in my studio, kicking about and frankly in the way, was a practice landscape from a few years back. I’ve long admired German Romanticism, particularly the dramatic treatment of nature, most especially trees. In the hands of a master like Hackert, trees are major players, singular beings rich in personality. I had hoped to better understand how these landscapes/tree-scapes were constructed so I set about copying one of my favorites, Hackert’s Italian Landscape, 1778.

My copy of Jakob Phillip Hackert’s “Italian Landscape”, 1778

It was a gratifying experience, in no way was I able to match Hackert’s luminous original, but I did learn valuable lessons in light, perspective and composition. 

But then I had a painting that I wasn’t very interested in, wasn’t original, wouldn’t/couldn’t show, not particularly “good” and yet frankly too sentimentally attached to to just chuck. 

So I decided to make it my own by reworking it in my own way. I’ve seen artists self consciously take thrift store paintings (rather annoyingly, seems a bit stunt-ish), works they mockingly called kitsch, and adapt them to their generally ironic purposes. This sort of practice is close to being a kitsch cliche in its own right but it started the wheels turning .

I’m not an ironic artist, nor did I think my painting kitsch, although granted a rather poor copy, but I was excited to reimagine Hackert’s poetic composition, eager to populate his pretty world with my imps and daemons. In many ways old master Jakob acted (unwittingly) as my collaborator. This latest painting the happy result.

Portrait of Jakob Phillip Hackert (1737-1807) by Augusto Nicodemo, 1797

I hope he would have been pleased.

 

As my composition is visually dense in the Boschian/Bruegelian sense, details follow:

Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail of St.Anthony himself plus just a smattering of the gadfly temptations, oh, and his faithful pig.

This is the Master’s take, as you can see it is quite lovely, my copy so paltry in comparison. The wisest path was re-spinning  my inferior version in my own voice.

Jakob Phillip Hackert
Italian Landscape
1778
The Temptations of St.Anthony of the Desert in an Italian Landscape (after Jakob Phillip Hackert, 1778)
2020
Oil on canvas
24 by 36 inches

In the end I am pleased, I made room in storage, profited from past labors and have a new painting I like quite a bit. 

 

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

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