Daughters and Sons
"Botticelli's Daughters", "Mao's Daughters and Sons", "Vivaldi's Virgins" and "Leonardo's Twins" are chapters in a larger theme, Daughters and Sons. The series started in the spring of 2008 and was inspired by my interest in exploring the composition and scale of contemporary portraiture in an historical theme.
One of my favorite paintings from the Renaissance period is Botticelli's "Birth of Venus". I have a postcard of it on my studio wall. I imagined that one of Botticelli's daughters must have modeled as Venus. And then I decided that he probably had 2 daughters.
While I was painting Francesca and Sophia, the 2008 summer Olympics were held in China and through the media bubble I became fascinated with the culture and the history of China. After I read a New York Times article about Mao Zedong I immediately visualized a series of portraits of the Chinese orphans that I knew in Aspen, 3 are the daughters of friends of mine. In the fall of 2008 I began the series of "Mao's Daughters" and I have painted 19 girls and one boy. I am passionate about painting these children not only for the challenge of rendering their beautiful and different features and coloring but also the "one child rule" is a politically and emotionally charged subject for me.
Leila, from "Mao's Daughters" (24 in. x 20 in.)
oil on canvas