I set out to do a drawing of a woman named Juliette Recamier. She was a celebrated beauty of her time during the French Revolution. Many artists did portraits of her. Actually, it was not Juliette I wanted to do a drawing of but simply a drawing of one of the terra cotta busts of women that the French sculptors were famous for, and I came across Juliette’s image and I set about drawing it. It was to be on a pale terra cotta color tinted paper, and drawn with a maroon wax pencil.
I did the drawing and I finished it, but I did not like it. I put a thin coating of white gesso all over it and I did it again, and then I liked it even less.
Why did I not like my drawing of Juliette Recamier? I felt it was a very accurate and beautiful drawing, but I made the mistake of reading her biography in the middle of drawing it. I decide that I did not really like Juliette, and so it became difficult for me to like the drawing. Nevertheless, I decided to do it over again a third time, but the third attempt was also a failure. After that I painted it out yet again and began looking about for a different subject.
I decided to do a drawing of Camille Claudel, she was the consort of the sculptor Rodin. Her biography is very moving and tragic, and it was impossible not to both like her, and to imagine I was bound to like the drawing as well. I chose to do it over a gray ground, a more serious tone for a more serious subject.
I like the result. Now, if you were to purchase this drawing, and you were to take it out of its cardboard folio and remove it from its tracing paper sleeve, (all my drawings come in a folio and a tracing paper sleeve), you might admire it, but when you examined it carefully you would see some indentations in the paper which appear as fine light lines seemingly engraved into the paper. Those little light lines are the edge of the ear and the hairline of the portrait of Juliette Recamier showing up, as she, after all this time, refuses to be forgotten. They can be seen it the enlargement with the signature, the bottom right of the drawing.
Richard Britell May 2020
This drawing was done with 2b pencil on hot press watercolor paper The image size is 6.5” x 5.5” on 9.75” x 8” paper. The paper was prepared with a coat of white gesso, followed by a coat of terracotta, followed by a wash of gray acrylic.
This ebay posting is the drawing’s provenance.
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