Portraits from the past

I’m not sure what I admire the most: the ability to paint satin and lace, or to paint jewels and medals. Both seem like mystery skills to me. Imagine the patience to perfect every detail, and to make it look so real. I wonder if there were painters specialised in clothes and jewellery, and others doing the rest?

Either way, here is how I’ve seen metal and textile meet – and stand out – on some old portraits. I wish I could hear the fabrics and feel the weight of those metal pieces. I’m even curious what the perfumes smelled like in those days, was it anywhere near the fragrances we fancy today?

I wanted to keep focus on the fabrics and the bling, so I kept their faces out of the picture. I know that the man on the left is Gustav III, king of Sweden in the 18th century, but I have to admit that I did not note who the lady on the right is.

I have always liked the idea of mixing hard metals with soft techniques. This year, my theme for the A to Z challenge is “Metal meets textile”. From A to Z, I talk about work with metal wire, textile techniques like crochet and knitting, show some pieces I’ve been working on, share some thoughts on metal, textile and jewellery. I hope that you’ll find something of interest to you!


9 thoughts on “Portraits from the past

  1. I love the idea of focusing on the jewelry and textiles and then thinking about what they must have felt like in the hand…then you drift on to the fragrances that were worn, something I never thought about. Nice speculations. 🙂


  2. Funny, I am more interested in the details of dress and jewelry in old portraits than the people’s faces, unless they are very distinctive. But the materials, fabric and metals, I examine them closely and try to imagine touching them. And there were painters who specialized in one aspect or another of a portrait- often there was a master painter handling the difficult party such as the face and their employees did the less critical parts. Because, portrait painting was a business and this kept costs down and allowed for a wider range of customers. I guess if you had less to spend your portrait would receive less of the master’s attention, but at least you got your image preserved! Well, it’s all lost to time, and the important thing is that we have lots of beautiful fabrics and accessories recorded for us to see.

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