The soul of the characters
The good painter has two things to represent:
the character and the state of the soul.
Léonard De Vinci
It is thanks to the methods of pictorial archeology that the existence of the soul lines of the characters is revealed by the application of the 1st rule of composition:
By extending a straight line visible in a table it points far
a specific point congruent with the subject of the work.
Process that I named: the narrative line.
Thus by extending certain spears, sword or crucifix as below, we see that rectilinear objects sometimes point the middle of the forehead, between the eyebrows of characters, most often religious . This point raised many times on a database induces a theory that I named: the point of the soul of the characters.
It remains to validate the correctness of this theory by the application of other rules or techniques of composition already confirmed. If other rules or techniques validate this point of the soul, it must still be seen whether this is congruent with the subject of the table examined.
Here are a few examples:
On this altarpiece by an anonymous painter from the 13th century, the base of the two tablets on the right and the lance of the angel on the right (purple line) both point to the point of the soul of Christ.
Anonymous - altarpiece of the crucifixion of Christ (detail) - 1230 - Petit Palais - traced photo © gm
With UCELLO, the lance points in yellow to the point of the angel's soul and this point is placed on the harmonic grid of composition of third parties (in purple)
UCELLO - La profanation de l'ostie 4 (détail) - 1469
With the Madonna in the Raphael meadow below, the extended lines (in pink) of the crucifix and the halo meet to point to the soul of Mary on her forehead. These two lines are congruent with the religious theme of this scene. They point unequivocally to the point of Mary's soul.
Raphaël - Madone dans la prairie (détail)- 1506 - Vienne
Le crucifix et l'auréole de St Jean-Baptiste pointent tous deux l'âme de Marie
With Simon VOUET, Cupid's arrow pointedly points to the point of the soul on the forehead of Venus.
Simon VOUET - The toilet of Venus (detail) - 1627 - Rome.
WHERE DOES THE IDEA OF THIS POINT OF SOUL COME FROM ?
I have little doubt about the existence of this narrative technique of the line of the soul which largely conditions the composition of a painting. I only show here very few examples which demonstrate the existence of this point of the soul, while I have a large number in my database (see the anthology at the end of the article).
I must admit that I was very surprised to discover this point of the soul on the forehead of the saints or other important figures. It reminded me of the 3rd Hindu eye, the 6th chakra of the oriental tradition. The question of how the idea of using this point of the soul in the composition came about remains a complete mystery to me.
there would be a whole historical study to be carried out to understand its origin.
How does the character soul technique work?
The functioning of this point on the forehead is quite simply the same as that of the looks of the characters leaving the apple of the eye. No multiplication of means for this technique of the soul, but an economy by using the same system of angles of the looks of the characters which illustrates their centers of interest. Except that for this technique the point is the center of the forehead to illustrate the passions of the character's soul.
Thus, from this point, the preferential angles of the 2nd rule of composition, i.e. 9 °, 18 °, 30 °, 36 °, 45 ° and 90 ° will radiate to point an element related to an interest, a passion of the character.
The soul line with Raphaël
Let us see below, with Raphaël's "La madone dans la prairie" how the lines of Marie's soul work:
Raphaêl - The Madonna in the meadow - 1506 - Vienne.
The angles of the soul of Mary point to seven points of the first rule.
From the point of the soul of Mary, the preferential angles point at 18 ° in dark blue the nose of St Jean-Baptiste,
at 9 ° in light blue in the axis of the crucifix the thumb of Jesus and the little finger of St John the Baptist,
the 90 ° vertical in purple points to the thumb of Jesus,
at 9 ° in light blue points his toe, then a 19 ° angle points to Marie's left ring finger, the one with the wedding ring,
and finally in yellow the angle at 36 ° points his toe.
It can also be noted that two angles at 9 ° and 18 ° delimit the height of two bell towers in the village behind.
Let us check, below, the tracing of this line of the soul of Marie: this purple line is wedged on the square earth on the edge of the format. This earth square conditioned three points of the first rule with the knee of St John the Baptist (initiation), the ring finger of Jesus, then the index and middle finger of Mary. The three characters are thus united by this grid of the earth square.
L'horizontale de l'âme de Marie se cale sur la grille du carré terre.
La ligne de l'âme de Jésus à 45° pointe l'œil de St J-B et s'appuie sur la grille des tiers qui a également servit à l'emplacement des personnages et du décor.
Below, the lines of the soul of Jesus include no less than 14 points from the 1st rule of composition. This large number of points present leaves little doubt about the use of this composition technique.
In addition, another composition technique is related to the line of the soul of Jesus at 45 ° in orange which comes to rest on the grid of thirds, that of the Holy Trinity, which itself defines the location of the crucifix and heel of Jesus. These two points, Crucifix and heel seem to illustrate in metaphor the destiny towards which Jesus is heading.
Les lignes de l'âme de Jésus pointent pas moins de 14 points de référence de la première règle de composition. Et son regard d'âme à 45° (en orange) pointe sur le format la grille des tiers (en mauve). L'auréole de ST Jean pointe également cette grille des tiers.
Les angles à 36° en jaune et la grille des tiers déterminent sur la croix deux valeurs des 2 quintes dorées utilisées pour les mesures. Les yeux et la bouche de Jésus en sont les premières valeurs de chaque quinte.
The extended axis of the halo of Saint John the Baptist (in pink) also points to the grid of thirds on the edge of the format and this axis points towards the sky the soul of Mary.
With these checks on the lines of the lines of the soul of Mary and Jesus, we have a congruence with the first rule, the second rule and third rule of composition, the technique of harmonic grids and golden measures. All these congruent overlaps with the line of the soul are made on the important points of the theme of this work.
The soul lines with Michel SITTOW
Michel Van Der SITTOW is a Flemish painter, pupil of Hans Memling, Jean Hey and Van Der Weyden. With this Virgin and Child the lines of the soul of Jesus and Mary were widely used for the composition. These lines define for the two characters the positions of the points of the 1st rule of composition and they are based on the technique of the grid of thirds and the grid of the square earth. A very visible marker makes it possible to wedge these lines of the soul.
Lines of the soul of Jesus below.
Michel Van Der SITTOW - 1515 - Berlin - photo, traces © gm.
Above, lines of the soul of Jesus in purple with 6 points of the 1st rule and a marker on the 30 ° in green.
Below, lines of the soul of Jesus wedged on the grid of thirds
Lines of the soul of Mary below.
Above, lines of the soul of Mary in purple, with 7 points of the 1st rule, a marker and under the navel of Jesus, the beak of the goldfinch symbol of the passion of Christ.
Below, lines of the core resting on the grid of the earth square and a line at 19 ° on the grid of thirds.
The line of the soul in a non-religious portrait with Raphaël
It is not uncommon for some painters to use this line of the soul for high-ranking characters, other than biblical characters and Saints, or even for the characters they particularly love. Thus Raphaël composed the portrait of his dear companion, Margarita Luti, mainly with the lines of his soul (in purple) which are based on two harmonic grids.
Raphaël - La Fornarina - 1519 - Rome - photo plots © gm
The lines of the core point to 18 ° in blue the indexes of Margarita and a line to 36 ° in yellow points the angle of the format.
The horizontal core line is wedged on the grid of the earth square and on the grid of the half-medians. The square earth grid has conditioned four points of the 1st rule of composition.
The line of the soul in a self-portrait with Élisabeth Vigiée-Lebrun
Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, great portrait painter very verbose, offers us a fine example of composition with this technique of the line of the soul. With her self-portrait, she composed her soul line wedged on the earth square and points at 36 ° (in yellow) to the passion of her life, painting.
Elisabeth VIGIÉE-LEBRUN - Self-portrait - 1780 - Offices -
The line of the core is wedged on the square earth grid. His soul look at 36 ° (in yellow) points the brush, while the 18 ° points a marker.
Anthology of soul lines
Do not hesitate to leave your comment, your questions at the bottom of the page, my pleasure is to be able to discuss the pictorial composition. Thank you.
Work protected by a copyright © guymauchamp U79J1B9 and a Legal deposit at the SGDL Paris.