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Monday, July 19, 2010

An Unforgettable Face


"In every man's heart, there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty." ~ Christopher Morley ~

The female face has long been inspiration for countless number of artists over the centuries. Take for example the hauntingly elegant oil on canvas that accompanies this post. It is a portrait of 19-year old Amalie von Schintling painted in 1831 by Joseph Karl Stieler, an artist who worked primarily in the service of the Bavarian court.

Stieler painted the portrait at Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich, and endearingly captured von Schintling's hopeful visage. At that time, the young girl was betrothed to her cousin Fritz von Schintling, but sadly would never see her wedding day as she died of tuberculosis shortly after the painting was finished.

Three years ago, St. Louis, Missouri digital artist, Philip Scott Johnson further immortalized Amalie's image in a video, along with that of 89 other beautiful women, all of who had stories of their own to speak from the canvas.

The exquisite video tribute to portraitists and their distaff models displays Johnson’s carefully cropped thumbnail images, which are morphed one on top of the other in a fantasy dance of visual beauty that spans 500 years of Western art.

For two minutes and 53 seconds centuries roll by from face-to-face as we see the passionate works of such artists as Rubens, da Vinci, Reynolds, Winterhalter, Renior and more, as each beauty dissolves and melds accompanied by the sensitive cello performance of Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007.

Johnson’s outstanding work was recognized with a nomination for Most Creative Video by YouTube for their 2nd annual awards ceremony.

For a complete list of artists and their un-cropped paintings, please follow this link.

5 comments:

arlee bird said...

Very cool, but just a bit freaky to watch as well. Amazing what can be done with computers.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Paula Slade said...

Lee - It is pretty amazing what can be done with computers these days!

TallTchr said...

Watched it a couple of times. I was struck by how similar the eyes were in many of the portraits. The reason, I think, is the convention that dictated young girls were to be shown as pensive and pious. A direct stare, a laughing countenance, or a sly smile were all highly improper. Perhaps that's why the Mona Lisa was so radical and liberating. Anyway, I liked it.

Jo said...

Amalie is hauntingly beautiful. My goodness. Her tuberculosis could contribute something to that, the eyes and the pale skin. It has made her more beautiful.

I can't open the video here at work, but I can hardly wait to open it when I get home...!

Paula Slade said...

Yangyi Hui - Thanks for stopping by!

TallTchr - I thought Johnson did an excellent job of morphing, and as you pointed out the eyes (on all the subjects) were definitely pensive - they just seemed to melt one into the other. I always enjoy your artistic observations in your blog so I am very glad you liked the video.

Jo - I was also taken with Amalie's beauty and eyes. The first time I viewed the video - it was her portrait that jumped out at me and made me research her story. She also reminds me (just a bit)of Julia Roberts - perhaps around the mouth.