Many years ago, walking in the Sleeping Bear Dunes on a snowy day, Troels and I took photos of one another. Making a montage of these photos in adobe photoshop and using some tricks, produced most of the red and green seen here.
After a decade, I pulled the picture out of storage to fix its ‘value’ problem, meaning there was not a wide enough range of light and dark. Now orange and yellow were introduced as lighter colors. An artist friend encouraged me to add even lighter hues. But I liked what I saw and did not want to risk further changes. Now I am contemplating to make a copy of the painting but adding lighter colors.
One historical precedence of an artist copying an earlier motif with added changes is Titian, the 16th-century Italian artist. Titian copied his painting of an important cleric, with changes that comment on the cleric’s fate.
The two portraits show Archbishop Filippo Archinto, an Italian lawyer, diplomat, papal bureaucrat and finally archbishop. The first painting finished about 1555 (MET, NYC) is not considered remarkable compared to the second version (Philadelphia Museum of Art) painted in 1558, the year of Archinto’s death in exile. Political intrigues in Renaissance Italy prevented him from taking his legitimate post as archbishop of Milan.
In this second painting, Titian added a gauzy, white curtain that obscures half of the archbishop’s face from our view. The cape, here faded to reddish brown, had been painted purple. In the 16th century Vatican, brilliant purple stood for sorrow and suffering.
The changes Titian made in the second version of the portrait were not just aesthetic alterations but carried deeper symbolic meanings related to the subject’s fate and circumstances.