Dr. Washington Epps, My Doctor by Lawrence Alma-Tadema was one piece that caught my eye while walking through the Scaife Galleries last week. This piece of art was completed in Britain in 1885. The portrait showcases Alma-Tadema’s talent in realism. His use of a darker setting brings a sense of stillness to the scene, yet the eyes of the subject seem to add life. The balance between light and dark draws the eye in. The placement of the patient’s hand and the timepiece add a sense of uncertainty. The look on Epps face is one of “intense concentration,” leading the observer to trust in his doctoral performance. According to the museum, Epps was actually Alma-Tadema’s brother-in-law. Though his portrait pieces are rare to come by, they usually showcase close friends or family. This fact lead me to believe that perhaps Alma-Tadema was able to accomplish these incredibly realistic paintings with oil and canvas because of the deeper understanding he had of his subjects.
Walking a bit further, into more contemporary art, I stumbled upon this intriguing image by Andy Warhol. Self-Portrait was enlarged from a Polaroid onto canvas in 1986 by this artist who called Pittsburgh home. Warhol shows his signature eccentrism by using black and white to shock the viewer in his silver wig. The shocking direction of his wig shows his unique Warhol is famous for his unique ability to recreate images in wacky ways, an artistic trait that made him stand out. I think this piece caught my eye because I’m so used to seeing bright colors in Warhol’s work. Perhaps turning the eye on himself made him want to send a more raw message of who he really is.
It was interesting to compare these two portraits, created over 100 years from each other. Both artists manipulate light in very different ways to tell a story to the observer. Despite the second piece being a blown up photograph, Warhol is still a artist in the way he re-imagined his own image.
A few other works that grabbed my attention: