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Small Scale Portrait Sculpture

picture of Roman antiquity and Binkley portrait sculpture

In the fall of 2010, I received a commission to do a portrait of a patron’s girlfriend in the attitude of an ancient Roman marble statue. The only caveat was that the sculpture was to be 18” tall.

I am not a miniaturist, as the detail involved at that level is something to drive me crazy. Although this commission put the woman’s head at 1.5” in height, I threw caution to the wind and took on the work.

Having not met the subject nor seen the antiquity statue, I only had a handful of photographs to work from which were emailed to me by the patron. The exercise of working the drapery on the semi nude body was a welcome challenge. I was happy with the contraposto stance of the resulting sculpture, and how it echoed the antique statue. I “closed” the figure’s left arm both for stability and to fit the budget. This means I changed the attitude of the arm so the hand was on her thigh. And I was pleased with the exposed musculature of the arms and torso.

I was certainly challenged by the subject’s face and in trying to emulate her features into such a small scale. As I was working on the face, I used Photoshop to cross-reference the subject’s facial features with that of the sculpture. For privacy reasons, I have chosen not to show the subject’s photo. It is interesting to note that light is reflected differently from real skin than it is from marble. No matter how exact a stone portrait is, it will always look different from the real subject.

I was happy with the results, but more importantly, the patron was pleased as well.