View Full Version : La Bella Principessa - Allison's Copy

10-17-2013, 06:49 AM
Thank you to Nathalie Chavieve for first posting her copy of Leonardo's beautiful drawing, which so inspired me to try the same. The original is chalk and ink on vellum (cow, sheep or goat skin - which I did not have), so I used earth red, brown, yellow ochre, black and whitechalk on Canson Yellow Ochre paper. It is 33 x 24cm, the same size as the original. I have never worked in colored charcoal or chalk before, and I had a really fun time working on this, trying out this medium.



This is a portrait of Bianca, the illegitimate daughter of the powerful Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. Bianca was married at age 13, in about 1495. This drawing was originally in her marriage book, until it was torn out centuries ago. The drawing resurfaced in 1998, at Christies auction house, and labeled as a German work from the early 19th century, and was sold for a little less than $22,000 dollars. It is now owned by Peter Silverman, thought to be the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, and kept in an undisclosed vault in Switzerland.

You can read the full story here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/mystery-masterpiece.html
The original drawing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_of_a_Young_Fiancée
and a color restored image of how the painting may have looked at the time, before yellowing with age - http://broidermebethan.blogspot.dk/2013_01_01_archive.html

10-17-2013, 06:59 AM
Here are the drawings. First I made a freehand drawing, which was all about really seeing what Leonardo had drawn - the knots in the hair piece, the shape of the nose... I aslo became aware of my mistakes - the thickness of the neck, placement of chest, the mesh hair piece not far enough out... This really helped me a lot when I did the final drawing. Then I made a technical drawing, using sight-size method, and constantly going back and remeasuring. It was boring, but I am glad I did it so I had a nice drawing to trace on the final paper. Especially for the border pattern around her shoulder. I had to use pinholes in the end with a sprinkling of chalk dust on top to get the placement of these lines, and it was still very difficult.


Nathalie Chavieve
10-17-2013, 10:47 AM
It is wonderful drawing, Allison ! Congratulations ! You have improved your drawing skills A LOT ! If I'll compare the drawings you done for "La Belle ferronierre" and this one - it is like day and nught.

I like very much the way you prepared the paper. The hair and net done wonderfully.

Some critiques :
In my opinion , the face proportions are little bit shorter then the original : the nose, the chin, the space between nose and the upper lip. The nostril is too short ( or too small ). The curve of the lower lip and chin is more delicate on the original Leonardo's drawing. There is also more space between the eye and the hair. I think that the face has lack of bluish cool shadows under the chin, on the nose, at the back of the neck, which you can see on the original. The head hoop can have more of highlights on it. And , may be more soft smooth blending of the chalk could define more of a young skin. Well, that's about all :cat:

Once again, well done !:clap:

10-21-2013, 08:24 AM
The curve of the lower lip and chin is more delicate on the original Leonardo's drawing.

This made me laugh. Of course Leonardo is more delicate, that what makes him Leonardo, and me only me. :D

Your critiques are always welcome. I agree but could not change the proportions much, too much pastel now, but I found out by increasing the hihglight above the lip that it made the distance from the lip to nose longer. Yes, much more space between eyes and hair - I added a little with white chalk highlights to "erase" some hair. Fixed the shadows. Added highlights to hair thing.

And I totally reworked the background and made her skin highlights and shadows really delicate in the blending. And now I have to tell you the terrible thing that happened. I had made all corrections, and made all the skin more delicately blended. I was very happy with it. Then I put fixative on it. FIXATIVE RUINED THE WHOLE DRAWING! I will never ever use it again. It made everything about 20 percent darker. All highlights were gone, no highlights on skin, no golden hairs, everything was dark or darker. And the skin actually turned more rough, all the smooth, delicate blending I made was gone! So I read a lot of posts and found out this is a very common problem with fixative, and why many artists do not use any at all, and as soon as they are done just mount behind glass. Those that do use a very good fixative, like Lascoux and only very very lightly and maybe only if the paper can not take any more pastel.

So I spent another day sort of fixing it, but it is not as good as it was before the fixative. My heart isn't in it, and even though I am disciplined, it shows. And I don't even have a photo of how it was. Now I am stopping, because every time I look at it I remember how it was and it makes me sad. (Though I think I will be happy again when I start sketching the Raphael copy. I really enjoy drawing more and more, and I think it shows.)

Oh well, here is the fixed version, without any more evil fixative:

Nathalie Chavieve
10-21-2013, 09:59 AM
I am very sorry that it's happened to your drawing. But may be it is a good reason to redraw it ? You might get even better result !

ianos dan
10-21-2013, 10:20 AM
Hey Allison! that's a real improvement on your drawing skills!the colors are superb.
Sorry about the fixing he drawing ....l had same problems with Vlad ,when l made the color over the green underpainting ,l thought a will cut the canvas in pieces ,l was so angry ...then ,next day l painted over and ,surprise ,the face came out better than the previous version .
So ,probably your are going to do much better.
But again, l can't believe that is your drawing ,as Nathalie said ,it's just like you have made some years of Academy drawing
l will try to make some critique ,but l think there is to little of it ,from my side .

Nathalie Chavieve
10-22-2013, 05:03 AM
About the fixative : very long time ago ( I even don't remember how I came across of this knowledge) I have heard that the drawing can be fixed with simple low fat milk ! I even tried once : well, it wasn't big drawing, but I just wanted to try on small heavy weight paper with graphite or charcoal drawing on it and it works very well. The only thing I can't tell, is how it would be preserved after a long period of time ( will the paper get yellow or dark or something else ?) and how the big sheet of paper will behave when you apply a milk over it ( will it wrinkle or so ?).

11-03-2013, 02:58 PM
Interesting, but no way I am using milk! I just found this, very interesting reading:

Beatrice was the wife of Ludovico Sforza. Her painting was by Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis, who collaborated with Leonardo. Leonardo da Vinci orchestrated the wedding celebration. Both drawn - painted around 1490. I feel certain that Giovanni's painting influenced Leonardo's drawing, or Leonardo's drawing influenced Giovanni's painting. Perhaps the drawing is not Bianca, but Beatrice?


And even more interesting: