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Mask of Saint Ambrose


artist | Philip Gurrey

2015

Painting

45 × 55 cm / 17.7 × 21.7 in

Oil on board.

The work 'Mask of Saint Ambrose' is inspired by a study by Peter Paul Rubens of a bearded man, which hangs in the national galleries of Scotland. This study was to be used for the face of ... Read more
Oil on board.

The work 'Mask of Saint Ambrose' is inspired by a study by Peter Paul Rubens of a bearded man, which hangs in the national galleries of Scotland. This study was to be used for the face of Saint Ambrose in a larger work by the artist, which he never made. The work was finally made by Anthony van Dyck who used the same oil study by Rubens for his face of Ambrose.

"The vitality and speed of execution in this work by Rubens has always fascinated me. There is also a 'legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on the face of Saint Ambrose as a child while he was laying in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue.' This idea of a mask of Bees led me to copy the work by Rubens, creating a mask of flesh and no more. In a play between society portraits and religious folklore I wanted this image to resemble a preacher of some sort, but also that of the everyman from Modern society."
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