Saturday, June 28, 2014

Copying the Masters - Campaspe by J.W. Godward

 I've been in a bit of a painting slump for the last month or so.  Things have gotten very busy at the office and I've had less time for the studio.  I find, too, that when things are busier and more intense with the business, it is much more difficult to switch mental gears and paint.

Anyway, the Sacramento Fine Arts Center announced a show "Influenced by the Masters" and I thought that was an intriguing idea and a 'guided' way to get a little painting in.  I've copied Masters before.  It's a fabulous exercise - humbling too, I might add.   Several years ago, I copied "Classic Beauty" by John William Godward, an English artist (b 1861- d 1922) and so I went back to his works to search for another painting to copy.   I found "Campaspe" in the Art Renewal Center ( ) library, which is an incredible place.  I highly recommend it.  The original is a very tall and vertical painting, but I wanted something a little less challenging, so I turned it into a horizontal of just a portion of the original.  If you haven't painted from the Masters, you should.  It's a wonderful learning experience....and it will give you new-found respect for what they were able to do.

Because I wanted to copy the style of the painting as much as possible (it isn't possible!) I did a fair amount of glazing on this painting, something I typically don't do. Where Godward captured exquiste form and detail, I was forced to suggest it - both by time and ability.   But wow, this is fun to do.  How these brilliant painters did the incredible work they did is beyond me.  I can only marvel and appreciate.

The plein air frame was the only gold frame I had at hand.  The painting gets submitted today, so it will have to do.  Actually, I kind of like it.

Copy of a portion of Campaspe by J.W. Godward    Oil on stretched linen  12 x 16
Here is John William Godward's exquisite work

Campaspe   John William Godward

 By the way, Campaspe was a mistress of Alexander the Great and a prominent citizen of Larissa.  She was reportedly a model for several great works. In this painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the ancient Greek artist Apelles paints Campaspe as Alexander keeps a watchful (and suspicious?) eye on the proceedings. 
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Painting from the Masters is just an all around great experience.  Try it!

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art


  1. That's funny - I posted a comment earlier on this beautiful painting... and now it's gone! Anyway, very nice work, Bruce. She's just lovely and you captured the attitude perfectly. Now, again, do you have her cell number?

  2. Thanks Kansas! Wow, could these guys paint, or what?? Impossible to achieve the effects that they did...I don't even know HOW they did it, much less imitate it. And yes, they had nice taste in models as well. (I'm afraid she's asked me to keep her personal contact information private.)
    PS...I didn't see an earlier message.

  3. It is interesting that Kansas posted a comment. I did as well and here I am again because I just had to let you know your Compaspe study is fabulous. The figure is bold but subtle and you have captured her loveliness.

  4. Thank you have been a constant source of support and it is much appreciated. I don't know what happened on the earlier comments that you and Kansas posted....the mysteries of the internet!