Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Short History of a Fake Vermeer (and a Fake Uccello)

When I was still studying and teaching art history, Tony painted me an exact copy of a work I love at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum* here in Boston--A Young Lady of Fashion by Paolo Uccello from c 1460. He had recently taken a continuing education class on Renaissance art techniques and wanted to put his new skills to use. So, in secret, he spent hours in the museum studying and sketching the painting and then copying it at home using the style and the techniques of the 15th century (he even ground pigments and made his own paint!):

When he finished and gave it to me, I was bowled over by the present and I took it right to my undergrad art history students to examine for our Renaissance lessons! It remains one of my most treasured objects. If our house were on fire, I would secure the safety of all people and animals and then run back in for that painting.

Being a greedy art historian, I couldn't let well enough alone and began encouraging him to copy more paintings. He set to work on Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and found it's a pretty tricky painting to copy. He spent about a month looking solely at the angle and turn of the nose (and let's face it, having a very picky art expert as a partner couldn't have helped him work any faster). Tony had it nearly finished, with only the earring missing, when he got burnt out and hung it up for about a year.

He pulled it down one day and added a green crystal earring instead of a pearl, tying that painting into the running themes of his other work, in which small animals are collecting and protecting crystals. I love that he made a Vermeer his own, and if you like it, too, you can get a digital print of the painting:

Tony also recently designed a "crystal" necklace to accompany his work (and yes, that is me in the Etsy listing wearing the necklace in my pajamas):

You can also order the necklace and a print featuring the crystals as a combo!

* Pssst! Warm up the winter with $5 off Isabella Stweart Gardner Museum admission throughout the month of February! Mention "Winter Escape" when purchasing tickets.

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