Another day, Another Rigaud

Ellen Turner Hall imagines herself as Perpignan legend, Hyacinthe Rigaud, as he paints his famous Self Portrait.

rigaud self protrait

I am pretty bored after four weeks of lockdown. I’ve already posted portraits of my cats and studies of my muscular neighbours on their balcony. No other subjects have really caught my attention until I turned to the mirror. Just for fun I grabbed a goofy Rembrandt headdress and threw an old  black cape over my shoulder.

I think just the bust, unlike the full-length portraits the B-list nobles request from me to show off their silk and lace outfits. Anyway, their looks will be out of fashion at court before the paint dries. Drapery was the family business back in Perpignan and over the years I have amassed quite a collection of luxurious fabrics. Clients seek me out for my rendering of shimmering textiles.

I must  admit the velvety highlights of the pink turban are masterful. The dark rim sets off my face with its  warm glow and smouldering eyes. Smouldering ? Or simply smug? I’m not good at ears, so I’ll just tuck them back into the shadow and that takes care of that.

Maybe a bit of red  to accent my sensual lips? A dab of blue to my adorable cleft chin, not too prominent, just enough to invite a second glance? Then, the shirt! My crumpled white collar signals the humility of an honest working painter, n’est-ce pas?

I turn the cape to flash a bit of its gold lining. Perfect! The composition is starting to come together. That gold-threaded hem draws a diagonal line  from upper left to lower right, ending in my hand (I am good at hands) clutching the tools of my trade.

From the palette a pearl of lapis, a blob of white and a dash of Titian red almost ooze off the canvas.

Now what is missing? It’s still a bit dark and blah. Perhaps I can lift the gloom with a blaze of gold on the turban?  Anything else? Yes! I’ll add a canvas in the background on the right. But what to paint?

For the moment I can’t think of anything. I’ll just post this as it is. Maybe my Bourbon friends  group will have  a suggestion?

During lockdown, the Musée d’art Hyacinthe Rigaud are presenting the history of one work of art from the museum, every day! Join the “visit” on Facebook.

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