4 C
New York
Saturday, January 28, 2023

At the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, we met a painter-copyist

Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon is a painter-copyist here at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille.
Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon is a painter-copyist here at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille. (©JL Pelon/Northern Cross)

Did you know that copying a painting is an art that dates back to Antiquity? Meeting with a painter-copyist at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon. She has her studio in Roubaix. At the Lille museum, she explains to us the meaning of her work, and the very advanced techniques to respect the process of “re-creation” of the work. Far from counterfeiters!

To restore as faithfully as possible an original to better interpret the stratifications of meaning under the layers of colors, and to propagate them, this is what the expert-copyist of master paintings generally seeks. He/she does not add his/her “personal touch” at all costs but tries to penetrate faithfully into the secrets of the genesis of a painting, its historical, stylistic, technical characteristics… He/she only changes the format (enlarges or reduces ), sometimes only reproduces part of the chosen masterpiece, and is dedicated to works that have entered the public domain.

Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon copies in public, on order, almost every Saturday morning for ten years, at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, works, sometimes very famous, which are exhibited there;  right now, it's Vanity (1535) by Jan Sanders van Hemessen, and its enigmatic angel with butterfly wings.
Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon copies in public, on order, almost every Saturday morning for ten years, at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, works, sometimes very famous, which are exhibited there; right now, it’s Vanity (1535) by Jan Sanders van Hemessen, and its enigmatic angel with butterfly wings. (©JL Pelon/Northern Cross)

We find at the Palais des Beaux-Arts Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon in front of her easel, her box of colors, her brushes, with her hand rest, her white coat, her long experience, her technical expertise, her friendliness inclined to share her passion…

Nothing to do with an “automatic” work, even sophisticated, of “reproduction” (photography, the “copy-paste” of printers), even less with the “deception on the goods” of counterfeiters, even scholars.

We have been so educated nowadays in commercial consumption, therefore in competition, therefore in the terror of counterfeiting and plagiarism… that copying a work of art is sometimes misunderstood. However, for centuries, copying the masterpieces of the masters constituted the very basis of artistic initiation. Each beginner brought his “way” only after this long apprenticeship.

Example of techniques for copying works, here a Breughel.
Example of techniques for copying works, here a Breughel. (©JL Pelon/Northern Cross)

Copy to understand

“Copying has been practiced everywhere since Antiquity, she tells us, in painters’ studios” in order to teach the “rules of the art”, but it was also the only way to duplicate works that were unanimity (called “consecrated”). Let us think of the young Raphael copying the elegant madonnas and the beautiful landscapes of Perugino (one of his masters). Famous examples are legion in the past but also in modern times: think of Delacroix copying Rubens, of Picasso “assimilating” Ingres…

“The Louvre was first created for this, during the Revolution: for the transmission of processes, of the “genius” of the Ancients”, explains Catherine.

Videos: currently on Actu

Even today, copyists from all over the world parade there (50 “easels” are authorized there for a quarter, after a strict selection); they undertake not to sink into the caustic facilities of pastiche and diversion. But real copyists, in fact, are scarce at present. Work too hard? Requiring too much humility, too much experience, too much patience?

Dozens of classical works to his credit

She has copied Vermeer’s famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” several times, Rubens’ “Descent from the Cross” (in Lille): each time, she seeks to progress, never ceasing to study the books of experts including the contributions sometimes do not coincide with the assertions of the research laboratories!

Indeed, many modern processes make it possible to probe the mysteries of the manufacture of an old painting: the “Wood’s lamp” (reflectography under ultraviolet or infrared radiation), the binocular magnifying glass, radiography, the study of voltage variations of the canvas (caused by the heat and the humidity), the cracks (cracks), the calligraphy of the signature, the “repentances” of the painter, the chemical composition of the solvents, the “mediums” (“preparations based on binder and thinner”), pigments… All this research is the scientific basis of his profession.

Copy in public

Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon copies in public, on order, almost every Saturday morning for ten years, at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, works, sometimes very famous, which are exhibited there; right now, it’s Vanity (1535) by Jan Sanders van Hemessen, and its enigmatic angel with butterfly wings. On average, it takes him three months, at the rate of 5 to 6 hours per day, to copy a work. She favors paintings from the 15th to the 17th century, most often painted in oil, because they hold a precious spiritual, mystical dimension, which she rarely finds from the Age of Enlightenment.

Catherine dwelt several times on Pieter Breughel the Younger; the latter had copied thirteen times (between 1605 and 1620!) the “Count of Bethlehem” (1566) by Pieter Breughel the Elder, his father. Since 2015, several books have been interested in Catherine: mise en abyme and fascinating filiation that these copies of copies.

Remaking a painting from the 16th century in the 21st century: what are the recipes for this tour de force? If you observe Catherine Courdil-Bouthinon – hard at work – in front of the painting she is creating, and she “tells you about her work”, you are forced to admit that it is doable.

If you listen to him better, you discover the complexity of his enterprise and the impressive culture necessary to restore the works of the great masters.

Indeed, “the spirit of the painting is obtained by an impregnation of the artist’s works. Space and time must fit in a square of canvas”. In the end, you are in front of an artist who is in the process of composing a new work of art, because her “copy” seems as inimitable as the “original” she is “recreating”.

Mastery of ancestral processes

It is not enough to believe in “appropriating” the work of a great master in order to “repeat” it – an impossible operation for the neophyte, the painting must hold up over time. And art is inseparable from technique.

It is necessary to think about the quality of the support: each copy is made on a traditional support (linen canvas stretched on a frame or wooden panel), covered with a preparation which makes it possible to control the absorbency of the support, and which serves as a base. to the pictorial layer while ensuring its adhesion and contributes to the final aesthetic value of the painting.

“The soul of the colors comes from the subtle use of different oils and glues, multiple pigments and coatings, varnishes, a particular use of chalk mixed with glue”. The superposition (“fat on lean”) of the pictorial layers (in oil, they don’t dry out, they harden) gives the work its velvety feel.

Depth is obtained by superimposing very diluted, very transparent materials. Mixed with the pictorial material, the ‘mediums’ offer the painter a whole range of means of expression, from opacity to transparency, from ‘matity’ to shine, from finesse to impasto.

In the Brueghelian winter landscape of the Museum of Lille, the intertwining of branches is due to the finesse of the brushes (a hundred!) and their proper use. And the composition? Another challenge to take up, with in-depth knowledge of the rules of geometry. The horizon line, the chromatic perspective, the use of the Golden number… a set of notions contributing to the perfection of the work in the correct representation of the proportions. Studying for hours during drawing, anatomy, nature, color… finding the right gesture, documenting oneself, visiting museums constantly, keeping in mind Boileau’s alexandrine: “Twenty times on the job, put your work back. »

Symbiosis between art and science

The preparation varies according to the times and the Schools of painting, and can be composed either of layers of glue followed by layers of chalk diluted in the glue, or of a preparation based on oil and pigment. “The sketch is then made ‘in juice’, with very diluted, very transparent pictorial materials, or in smears, an extremely fine paste drawn on the surface”, she shows us. The first layers of the sketch are fluid, very fine, the following layers increasingly rich in medium. Each layer of the painting must be worked to provide the next with a certain porosity and ensure the “grip” of the different layers. A pictorial layer can only be covered by the next one if it is sufficiently hardened. It is therefore necessary to respect deadlines between two sessions, according to the thickness and the “richness in binder” of the pictorial material.

The “Third art” workshop

Chalk, black chalk, red chalk, graphite mine, charcoal, pastel, pen and ink, wash… portraits to order, in oil, red chalk, black chalk, graphite, from nature or d after photo: everyone can admire on their website the dozens of paintings she copied for her clients.

We know the “7th art” (the cinema) and the 6th (the stage). The first five had been fixed by Hegel in his “Aesthetics”. The 1st is architecture, the 2nd sculpture, the 3rd the “visual arts” (drawing and painting), the 4th music, the 5th literature.

Jean Louis Pelon

Was this article helpful to you? Know that you can follow Lille Actu in space My News . In one click, after registration, you will find all the news of your favorite cities and brands.



Source link

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

0FansLike
3,674FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe

Latest Articles