21 October 2023

Saturday sitting

A portrait artist on Place du Tertre.


When a gift backfires...
Some years back I commissioned an artist on Place du Tertre to do a portrait from a beautiful photo of my mother when she was young. It was to be a surprise and from the samples of portraits-from-photos displayed at his stand I felt he would be up to the task to do the best job as there was quite a bit of competition around to choose from. 
I didn't care about the price (about 300 euros), only the quality, and happily agreed to pay in advance - only to cringe the second I laid eyes on it almost two weeks later. I'd asked him to take his time to do a good job but it looked nothing like her and barely resembled the photo. The first obvious faute was an enlarged chin, just enough to give the face an aspect of a Don Martin cartoon from MAD magazine, and no, he wasn't a caricaturist. 
 Of course she hated it too, and ever since I tell anyone considering getting their portrait painted in Paris by any of these roving artists to always try to observe them sketching someone live, in person, first. 
And should they want a portrait painted from a photo, not to risk it unless convinced of the artist's ability to capture an image precisely, which is difficult to know in advance. Most, like I did, simply take their chances. - BPJ


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