Posthumous Portrait of Arielle Hart
oil on linen
49 X 68 in.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of Marvin Mattelson's latest portrait painting at his home studio in New York. The four foot by six foot painting was commissioned as a tribute to Dr. Arielle Hart, a young wife and mother who tragically passed away far too early in her life. After discussing with her family the fond memories they shared of Arielle, Mattelson set to work painstakingly planning every portion of the portrait, leaving nothing to chance.
Painting a posthumous portrait can be a very demanding task. Often the artist has only candid photographs from which to work, and such images, when clear, usually feature figures lit in a way not acceptable for painting reference. For a work like this, where the deceased person is incorporated into a scene filled with living subjects, the difficulty of making the tableau believable is even more arduous.
|Dr. Arielle Hart, the late wife of Michael T. Cohen|
To achieve the proper lighting for the figure of Arielle – that which would offer clear form and atmosphere – Mattelson needed to create his own reference. Working from hundreds of family photographs, Mattelson sculpted a bust of the late Dr. Hart, which he then lit to match the reference he already had acquired of the other family members. He then gathered clothing that matched the items Dr. Hart was seen to have been wearing in some photographs, and used a body double to obtain the last of his reference.
What resulted was a very time consuming commission lasting several years, but Mattelson's added effort was certainly well merited, and appreciated by his client. For Mattelson, who takes extreme pride in all the work he does, putting in any less industry into a painting would be unthinkable.
|By using a more painterly approach to objects in the background, and reducing their chroma, Mattelson was able to convincingly establish the figures on a closer plane within the picture.|
To see more images of Marvin Mattelson's portrait of the Hart-Cohen Family, please visit his website, where he has posted an interactive image of the painting. By clicking on certain key parts of the image, viewers can see detailed close-ups of the painting.