Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Guard of the Harem

[Painting Study by Sean Patrick McArdle]

This weekend, my husband finished (well, artist's really never do consider their pieces finished, do they?) this magnificent painting of Frank Duveneck's The Guard of the Harem. Being someone who is lucky enough to possess a very well-trained eye for a beautifully rendered piece of art, yet having no artistic talents of my own, I am forever in awe of those who can turn a blank canvas into a brush stroked masterpiece.

Duveneck painted the original in 1879, and it is now part of San Francisco's DeYoung Museum's permanent collection. From the moment we saw this painting, both of our hearts were captured, (Yes, we have a tendency to love the same pieces of art!) for the eyes of this Guard just seem to draw you into his world of power, intrigue, betrayal, and longing.

In Sean's ongoing quest for learning, we sought permission from the DeYoung Museum for an on-site study of this particular Duveneck piece. After finally working our way through the proper chains of command, we were given a disheartening answer of NO. The reason being is because oil paint mediums have drying agents in them and these fall into a "hazardous solvent" category, a rule that has been established by San Francisco's new Health and Safety Commission. However, he was more than welcome to use other drawing/painting materials such as pencils, color pencils, oil crayons or water colors. Absurd! How can one possibly do a knowledgeable study by using other mediums than the chosen medium (oil) of the masters?
The Louvre (as well as most European museums) has promoted this form of study for centuries and it has proven invaluable to artists (which gives us another great reason to relocate soon!).

Obviously, this obstacle didn't stop Sean from continuing his desire to learn, so he took numerous high resolution digital photos as well as slides, and we made many trips to the DeYoung in order for him to capture the secrets (for example, only 5 colors were used in this entire painting) of this Guard's magnificence. Despite not being able to set his easel and canvas up inside the museums walls, I believe his painting is an incredible piece of work by a talented artist who never lets the word no stand in his way.


  1. I completely agree, Melissa. This is truly an incredible piece of work. Like you, I never cease to be in awe of talented artists.

    By the way, I just gave you a blog award. Enjoy!

  2. Sean Patrick McArdle- no doubt this name will be added to the list of great artists of our time.
    Truly beautiful.

  3. WOW!! Mel... so did your husband paint this? Is the study, painting it? This is so Beautiful! I am speechless of Sean's talent and study of this

  4. Oh wow!
    That's so beautiful!
    You have a fantastic blog,
    And your blog name makes me smile :)

  5. It's absolutely stunning and I love the story behind it. You've opened my eyes to so many things in just this one little post. And may I say, you and your hubby seem like a perfect match. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. You husband is incredibly talented! My husband struggles to paint the walls in our home :)

  7. When limits are placed upon an artist, one can see the restraint.
    It is stunning.

  8. What a great story. I'm stunned by the lack of poetry offered up by the museum. All business and no romance. Your husband's determination is an inspiration.

  9. thank you for your adorable comment !! your blog is suchh a lovely cupcake of inspiration too :) !!
    Boubou xx

  10. (refilling tea cup) Your husband made this? absolutely incredible! What a lovely post and an incredibly task he set for himself. I am in awe too....thank you so much for sharing!( oh, and do you take milk and sugar? ;)

  11. This is an amazing painting and an inspiring example of talent, perseverance, and discipline. Thank you for sharing!


  12. It must be incredible to live with an artist. The painting is a masterpiece!

  13. Stunning! It's pieces like this inspire an artist like me to paint. I would buy this.

  14. this is very beautiful . You may be very proud of HIM

  15. Beautiful painting!! your husband is awesome! we both share a love with the artwork of Nikolai Fechin!! can't wait to see some of his work when we go to Santa Fe for the 4th of July. oh I am so glad to know another wife of an artist, its always an adventure wouldn't you say??

  16. wow, i'm impressed with your husbands diligence in making this happen. it's beautiful.

  17. Amazing talent.....I hope you let him paint undisturbed for days on end! Exquisite.

  18. His study is a master piece, he has captured the eyes well!!! I am amazed, this piece is a very hard piece to study and he made it look effortless (which I know was Not)

    amazingly beautiful!!!


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