Monday, March 2, 2015

A Cabinet Painting: Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman

Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman, 2015, acrylic on
canvas, 12 x 10 cm

For a great many years I've been drawn to portrait miniatures, particularly those produced in the sixteenth century by two of its finest and most celebrated exponents, Nicholas Hilliard and his pupil, Isaac Oliver.

Completed just a few days ago, Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman draws equally from my personal iconography and the tradition of cabinet painting, which came to prominence in the late 1580s. Diminutive, but larger in scale than portrait miniatures - the majority of cabinet pictures measure up to 24.5 centimetres (10 inches) in height and typically present a full-length, highly detailed view of the subject. 

Collectors stored these intimate works in a "cabinet", a small private room that sometimes served as a study. (The name "cabinet" originates from the Italian word for room). In later years cabinet paintings were housed in display cases that were also known as cabinets. 

Discover more about the fascinating subject of cabinet painting HERE.

Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman is not destined for such a closeted existence, however. Under the auspices of the project Looking Down Under: Australian Contemporary Art, she is one of 200 works heading for Italy, where they will become part of the Luciano Bennetton Imago Mundi Collection

Pictured below: developmental stages of the work: