Friday, 13 March 2015

Horse head plaster cast study

I have just got back from my annual break in Valladolid, located in the heart of Castilla, Spain. Whilst there, I stumbled upon a separate part of the Museo Nacional de Escultura (National Sculpture Museum) that I was previously unaware of. Known as ‘Casa Del Sol’, this additional building is located less than a couple of hundred meters from the main museum. It houses a permanent collection of outstanding plaster cast copies of well-known classical sculptures, all on display in one epic grand hall: 


What a fantastic coincidence that I discovered this place when I did, as I had recently been itching to execute some meticulous drawings in an academic manor akin to what would be produced within an atelier curriculum (traditional ‘master and apprentice’ system of art instruction). In fact, I had been keeping an eye out for classical plaster copies to draw from for some time, but to no avail. Now I found myself completely overwhelmed by choice!

Having sought permission from the museum, I set about producing a precise study of a compelling horse head, cast in 1944 by S├ínchez Aspe. I believe the original was sculpted in the 5th century BC in Lanuvio, Italy. There is a good chance that the original is currently in storage within the vaults of the Bristish Museum, but I have not been able to verify this.

Although I was immediately excited by the vivid presence of this sculpture, I was determined to remain focused and level-headed. My sole aim was to work in a purely objective and truthful way that was devoid of emotion. Essentially, I wanted to mitigate any subconscious embellishments creeping into the work. It helped to mentally reaffirm to myself at regular intervals that this was to be a 'cold' exercise in visual accuracy. Nothing more.

The finished drawing took about 16 hours in total, spread over the course of a week:

To be able to draw this beautiful cast directly under such a dramatic and constant light source was a rare and privileged experience. The museum staff were very accommodating and were kind enough to provide me with a small foldable stall throughout the time I was there:


Casa Del Sol will now be a guaranteed fixture on all my future excursions to Valladolid and I am looking forward to producing more cast studies over the coming years.

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