This weekend I started an homage/reenactment of a painting by my great, great grand cousin, Louis Kronberg. I was inspired to do so after researching a bit about Kronberg, who died at the age of 93 five years before I was born. Kronberg studied in Boston, New York and Paris and taught portraiture for the Copley Art Society. His work was collected, including a piece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was known as the American Degas and his early work was largely Impressionist ballet scenes. The piece above is more typical of Kronberg’s later style which I would categorize as Art Nouveau. Work from both periods is characterized by detailed rendering of anatomy. Kronberg also worked as a buyer and advisor for his patrons, traveling to Paris and Spain to procure works for them. He painted while in Europe as well, and this piece may have been begun on such a visit.
I wanted to honor Kronberg while pushing myself to emulate another artist’s style/rendering of imagery, but I also wanted to add an interesting variation. I wanted to do more than copy Kronberg’s work, so I asked a friend to model for the piece and you can see the subject has different proportions – my model is of a shorter build, thus I had to zoom in somewhat to fill the same area in the picture plane. It was challenging to put another person into the same composition but I’m satisfied with the arrangement after some trial and error. I plan to further emulate Kronberg’s execution, especially his modeling of skin, once the oils set a bit more. For now, with less modeling, mine looks more like pop art or expressionism.
Another difference between Kronberg’s ‘La Gatana’ (‘the gypsy’) and my ‘La Pequena Gitana’ is the scale and proportions of the picture plane. La Gatana is 63cm x 80cm, La Petit Gatana is 40cm x 50cm. I found the wider ratio worked well with the shorter subject; the smaller scale means I may need a smaller brush as details progress. The medium is the same for both pieces: oil on canvas.
This weekend my main focus has been her face. I’m happy with the form and proportion but it still needs work on the shadows. Now that the portrait is coming along, I have started developing the hands and arms. The red fabric, the hairpiece, and the black shawl are just started, so they will change quite a bit by the time I’m done.
I chose this piece partly because it’s at the Gardner and I have seen it in person, but I also really enjoy the composition, especially the pose. I like the way her thumbs are pointing in different directions, the expression on her face and angle of her head. It seems contrived yet mysterious, rather appropriate for a gypsy.