Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hare of Hermes (a la Sandro Botticelli)

About two-three weeks ago Alexandra started working on Botticelli - one of the greatest artist of the early Renaissance. His love for details and quality of the strokes are remarkable, so following his style is a challenge for any artist.

This week we present you an illustration for the Greek myth "Hare of Hermes: (Hyginus 2.33)":
Some say that the hare was put there (orion's legs) by Hermes, and that it had been given the faculty, beyond other kinds of quadrapeds, of being pregnant with new offspring when giving birth to others.

Alexandra, Hare of hermes

Offtop: we have added a couple of features to our blog:
- You can easily share the post you liked with you friends on facebook or twitter
- We have a new, please do not miss, button - "Like", do not hesitate to use it
- A full story is on the separate page, so you can enjoy our paintings on the main page and read the full story about an original author and see how our painting was created by clicking on "read the full story behind button"

The Artist
Sandro Botticelli is an early Renaissance artist also known as Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (c. 1445 – May 17, 1510). Most of his life he lived and worked in Florence under the patronage of Medici family.

You probably all know him for his master piece The birth of Venus
Botticelli, The birth of Venus

Botticelli is very famous for his "strange" naturalism: although people and object appear to be realistic, they very ofter lack volume and perspective - look at Venuses arms and legs, which in the end makes his painting a little bit surrealistic, we like a lot.

Rumors has it, the girl (Venus) was the most beautiful girl in Florence, presumably a lover of the Lorenzo Medici, who was a prototype for Machiavelli's prince.

Botticelli, Primavera

Botticelli, Venus and Mars

Just look at the angry Venus watching her lover Mars falling asleep. Some including us are thinking that Mars was (is) actually her husband considering the number of children they produced, but in fact he was a lover, one of the favorite ones along with Mercury (Hermes) and Dionysus.

On the painting, look at the Mars' right leg, isn't it cool how flexible he is with his limbs. This piece of material covering Mars' "sword" it looks really interesting, real, unreal, beautiful.

Almost forgot, Botticelli was a great fan of Greek/Roman mythology and most of his paintings which were not done for the catholic church, are depicting ancient Roman gods, like Venus and Mars on the pictures above.

The process: Hermes of hare

There is a star constellation called Lepus, its story we will tell you today:

Ancient Greek had the following legend about Lepus constellation:
The hare is said to be fleeing the dog of the hunter Orion, for when, as was proper, they represented Orion as a hunter, they wanted to indicate what he was hunting, and so they put the fleeing hare at his feet.

Some say that it was put there by Mercury, and that it had been given the faculty, beyond other kinds of quadrapeds, of being pregnant with new offspring when giving birth to others.

Those who disagree with this reason say that so noble and great a hunter as Orion (we spoke about him in the discussion of Scorpio) shouldn’t be represented hunting hares. Callimachus, too, is blamed, because, when he was singing the praises of Diana, he said she delighted in the flesh of hares and hunted them. So they have represented Orion fighting the Bull.

The following story of the hare has been recorded. There were no hares on the island of Leros, and a certain young man of the state, led by a liking for the breed, brought in from another country a pregnant female, and watched over her very carefully as she bore her young. When she had borne them, many of the citizens developed an interest, and by acquiring some for money, some as gifts, they all began to raise hares. In no long time such a multitude of hares was produced that the whole island was swarming with them. When men gave them nothing to eat, they made inroads on the grain fields and devoured everything. The inhabitants, faced with disaster because of this, since they were reduced to hunger, by co-operation of the whole state were said at length to have driven them from the island, through with difficulty. So afterwards they put the image of a hare in the stars, that men should remember that there was nothing so desirable in life but that later they might experience more grief than pleasure from it.

The story could not have been the best inspiration for our Botticelli work. So right after we've read the story, Alexandra started to make sketches. We wanted to have the same effect of "affected" naturalism, so I had to pose as a model - posing for a painting is a difficult job, especially if you are posing for a rabbit ready to fly off:

Alexandra, Hare of hermes, sketch

We used acrylic paints which is the closest you get to tempera used by Botticelli. It always starts with the background adding more and more details on top of it, usually the most important things are to be drawn last.

Alexandra, Hare of hermes, under construction

And few days later, we have used a canvas 4 times as big as the one we usually use, the bigger canvas you get the more details you can put on, which comes with a price of time and paint.

Please welcome, Hare of hermes, the birth of the Lepus constellation, rumors has it, the girl on the picture is reincarnation of Venus and the hare/rabbit might just be another child of those two, might also just be a hare, who got lucky and became Gagarin:

Alexandra, Hare of hermes

See you next week for a rogue rabbit agent.


Katerina said...

Great story! I really enjoyed it and, of course, your painting. Keep going!!!

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