Boys in blue and its shades

Jul 30, 2013 2:00PM

Great artists have always found inspiration in the beautiful, drawing it out of the beauty of nature or man. The figures of people in their different interpretations have inspired the artists to create masterpieces over the centuries.

Children’s portrait has always stood out in a special section of the portrait genre, in which the young men portraying deserves special attention.

Art history knows many portraits of young men and, of course, every great painter of his era has painted his "boy".

Despite the fact that children's portraits have been rare in the Renaissance, with the exception of formal portraits of monarchs, there are several striking examples, inspired by the images of young contemporaries who left his mark in the period.

"Portrait of a Boy" by Bernardino Pinturicchio (ca. 1500) is a classic example of the subtle and lyrical image of youth in the arts. Pinturicchio - one of those who are fully reflected the aesthetics of children's portrait, depicting a child with an irresistible attraction and at the same time very simple and straight, staying true to the humanistic ideals of his era – admiration of the man and nature.

Portrait of "Ranuccio Farnese" (1542) - the son of the Duke of Parma by his contemporary Titian is one of the greatest portraits of young men. It is at once sensual and realistic image of a boy who has already aware of his status, power and privilege, to try on the attributes not boyish, but adult - cloak with a silver cross of the Malta Order and the sword  (two years later Ranuccio become a Cardinal).

The following great "Boy" was released two centuries later. In 1770, Thomas Gainsborough created an aristocratic portrait of Jonathan Battle in the tradition of the Old Masters as the homage to his favorite painter Van Dyck. It seems that the blue satin dress of the model - aristocratic costume of the time - dominates the young man by the way it’s not matching his status (Battle Jr. was the son of the merchant ironmonger). Although it cannot overshadow the healthy beauty of a young man. This great painting has left Britain forever in 1922 to become part of the collection of the Washington Gallery. British sadly said goodbye to the masterpiece that before leaving its home was put for a short view at the National Gallery in London. The director of the Gallery Sir Charles Holmes even wrote in pencil on stretcher: «Au revoir. C.H.».

A century later, Paul Cezanne believed that the relationship between classics and modern forms was the basis for that the art of colors and forms not lost the criterion of artistry in the process of its development. In his late period (са. 1890) he created a series of portraits of peasant boy in a red waistcoat - the image of melancholy rustic young men with the imprint of a complex emotional life on his young face. Here is the expression of form and richness of color that we admire in the works of masters of the High Renaissance.

Spanish influence perceived by the great masters entrenched in the works of his colleague Impressionist Claude Manet. "Velasquez - my ideal in painting" - said Manet. His work "The Flutist" as well as some works by Cézanne was rejected by the jury of the Salon d'Automne in 1866. Portrait of a flutist of the Imperial Guard is made in the spirit of the formal portraits of the Infants by Velasquez. Manet depicted him in his full dress, full length, in the canonical position, but at the same time with all the immediacy and importance of the child. Here rigor and poetry came together, bringing to perfection the harmony of pure colors.

With all a poetic and melancholy at the same time, Picasso depicts his "Boy with a Pipe" (1905), slightly idealizing his figure and even idolizing him by crowning his head with a wreath of roses. In such a way Picasso beautifully interprets this sad paradise - lean and fragile one of exiles – the micro society of wandering comedians poeticized by artist. Picasso saw in his model something attractive, the ghost of freedom hovered over him. The anxiety and melancholy tone of the question posed by Picasso: "Where does the circus go?" is reflected in boy's view. The answer was banal...comedians go to get lost in the universe...In 2004 "The Boy" became the most expensive artwork ever sold ($104.2 m).

A little bit later the followers of both impressionistic and postimpressionistic, as well as representatives of the School of Paris Amedeo Modigliani, Mane-Katz and Chaim Soutine arguing about "who is more brilliant - Matisse or Picasso?" created their own aesthetic of young boys' portraits, among which are "The Boy" by Amedeo Modigliani (1919). A portrait of an unknown young man was unusual for an artist, because all its models can be identified. But in his vague agony era artist was often painted nameless, young workers and created a few of these portraits. This is a classic example of a portrait by Modigliani - elongated poker face of the model is more like a frozen mask, as well as his empty eyes without pupils are the interpretation of forms gleaned from African and archaic Greek sculpture. Using the expressive potential of the human face and body, Modigliani interprets it in a completely new, individual manner.

A close friend of Modigliani, Chaim Soutine also creates several portraits, perhaps the series, of the boys - confectioners of the Parisian brasseries and porters from the hotels, amazing by their psychology, expression and the ability to convey the drama of human existence. "Portrait of a Boy" (1928) - a porter in a white shirt and a red vest with a twisted grimace depicted in an unnatural, uncomfortable position - with his arms and legs placed in opposite sides - like a puppet, an errand boy, nevertheless full of absurd genuine dignity.

"Portrait of a Boy" by Mane-Katz, who’s model was the son of his close friend and patron Bernard Hyatt, is a one of the best examples of the artist's work. Here is the optimistic and enlightened imagery that we see in the eyes of the boy by Pinturicchio, and stiffness of posture and costume of the flutist by Manet and melancholy and thoughtful of the smoker by Picasso and the epitome of honor, self-restraint and a certain icy coolness that can be seen in formal portraits of medieval Infants by Velazquez and Goya. However, this seemingly prim and secluded endowed with a sense of true and impartial nature.

Why did the images of young men so attract the attention of artists? Maybe the secret is that only in this notorious puberty the smallest details of the transformation of the psyche can be catch, when appearance is undoubtedly expresses the character, and even the future destiny, when the face is not coarsened and the heart has not the mark of the impermanence of life - the moment of realization that all of life is yet to come...