Call Me Queen Esther

Hey gang. I meant to get this blog post up yesterday, but I started to feel a little sick in the afternoon. I went to bed to lie down and remained there for 12 hours! Luckily I didn’t have to work today. I’m not yet 100% but still feeling much better. I’m just glad it’s not the flu.

I’d like to tell you about a private modeling assignment I began on Thursday. An artist I know from Spring Studio, Sanford Drob, asked me to pose for a painting project he’s working on. It’s a triptych of three scenes from the Old Testament. Panel one is Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a topic I have blogged about here. The second panel will be Noah’s Sacrifice. The third panel will be Esther’s accusation from the Book of Esther, and that’s where I come in. Sandy chose me to model as Queen Esther, the courageous heroine of Jewish Biblical history who saved her people from mass slaughter. The accusation scene that Sandy has chosen to paint depicts Esther confronting her husband, the Persian King Ahaseurus, and Haman, the high court official who hatched the plot to kill off the Jewish population. Esther is aware of the plot and stages a banquet with the two men to expose the evil plans and plead with the king to spare the Jews. The plot is foiled. The story of Esther’s bravery is the foundation for the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Sanford showed me his detailed preparatory sketches for the triptych. The first panel of Adam of Eve, for which he used two terrific models, is almost finished. For my role as Esther Sandy has provided me with appropriate costume and a crown. We’ve gotten the pose down perfectly. At our first session on Thursday, Sanford did an outstanding beginning drawing. As we progress I will post pictures here on the blog.

The story of Esther can be seen in many works of art, some of them quite astonishing. I love this one by the English Victorian-era painter Edward Armitage. From 1865 it’s called Festival of Esther. The composition and dramatic effects of this scene are striking. The miserable Haman is down on his knees, begging Esther for forgiveness. And her body language, especially the gesture of the raised hand, speaks volumes. This is how a narrative painting is done:

Here is a very different portrayal of the fateful banquet scene by Dutch painter Jan Lievens. Esther is making the same finger pointing gesture that Sanford and I are doing. The King listens, while Haman is given an appropriately shocked and uncomfortable gesture of his own. My only issue with this painting is that all the figures look Dutch, like the artist himself, when in fact the players were Persian. The Feast of Esther, 1625:

For more images of Esther in artwork visit this page, and for a detailed account and analysis of the story of Esther visit here.

7 thoughts on “Call Me Queen Esther

  1. That should be a great gig! I know Sandy from Spring Studio, and it sounds like he’s getting ambitious with this work! And you definitely have the bearing of a great queen of antiquity.

    • artmodel says:

      Fred,

      Thanks! Not sure I agree that I have a queenly bearing, but I’ll take the compliment 🙂 Sandy is great to work with, and I’m looking forward to our future sessions.

      Claudia

  2. Congratulations on the gig!

  3. Bill says:

    Glad you’re feeling better — sounds like you needed the rest, though.

    Any chance we can see the work when it’s finished? 🙂

  4. Dan Hawkins says:

    Claudia:

    Glad you had a good vacation. We had a great time in Chicago, but I came back with a head cold. My modeling bookings are pretty slow this semester since a couple of the teachers I had worked with last year are not teaching figure drawing this time. But I do have a gig at the Fort Worth Modern this Thursday in conjunction with the Lucian Freud exhibit, and I’m really looking forward to that…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s