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The mysteries behind a tronie (1/4)

At the moment the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague announced that Vermeer's masterpiece and world-famous painting "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" was subjected to a thorough research project, Edwin IJpeij decided to create a tronie based on the techniques of the old masters. He was curious if the research results would correspond with the method he learned from the tracts of the 15th-17th century. And there is good news, which he will share in the next weeks on this blog.


What is actually a tronie? A tronie, according to the definition, is a portrait study of an unnamed model. The word tronie origins from Dutch and means "head" or "face". It originates from Middle Dutch words, "troonie" or "trongie", and is borrowed from the French "tronge". Why would a contemporary artist want to make a tronie? In addition to the above-mentioned reason, there are two additional reasons:
(i) he wanted to make an attempt to feel what an old master had to endure and what creative problems he had to solve for making a trone, and
(ii) he wanted to test his skills and craftsmanship.

Comparison Vermeer and Edwin IJpeij of the new Girl with no pearl

Previously, Edwin has made a portrait study of Rafael (Raphaello di Sanzio). This was not a tronie, but a portrait of one of his muses. This preparatory search was a kind of calibration of his techniques, which he read in the tracts of the old masters. The technical and artistic results, both look and feel of both the work and the end result, gave him the confidence to make a trone in imitation of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and The Girl with the Pearl of Vermeer. Both old works show one strong similarity: crackle. You often see crackle in paintings on canvas, which is caused by the centuries-long opposite effect of the canvas and the oil paints at varying temperature and especially humidity.


Stay tuned and follow our blog for the final conclusions! 

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Wikipedia: "Tronies (or character heads) represent the head of a bust-length model for a neutral background. They were preparatory exercises in depicting age, appearance, character, decoration or mood, and were usually not commissioned. Tronies can show a great expressiveness and artistic skill of the artist. The recognisability of the model is subordinate to the representation of the appearance. Notwithstanding that they were exercises, they were sold as an independent work of art. In the Golden Age there was a lively market for tronies ".