Drawing the Curtain

Image coming soon.

Kathryn Murphy considers the motif of the curtain in painting in works by Adriaen van der Spelt, Piero della Francesca, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Gerhard Richter.

Murphy writes: "Leon Battista Alberti, in his De pictura (1435), famously recommended that a painting be conceived as an open window through which its subject – the historia – might be seen. To paint a curtain is to interpose something between the viewer and the historia. It is not fully part of the picture; instead it is an invitation both to examine critically the painting’s apparent subject – often, paradoxically, by covering part of it – and to reflect on the claims and limits of realism and representation. A curtain is not supposed to be looked at; the viewer’s instinct is instead, like Zeuxis, to ask what lies beneath."

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