Queen’s Park artist recreates a $92.2m Botticelli painting
- Credit: Stephen James
A Queen’s Park artist has recreated a 15th century masterpiece by Early Renaissance painter Botticelli, the original of which recently sold at auction for a record $92.2 million.
Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel was recreated by Philippa Abrahams, an artist, conservator and teacher who describes herself as a “practical art historian”.
Philippa, who grew up in Wembley but now lives in Queens Park, decided to produce a “unique, authentic recreation” of the famous painting last year after seeing it would be up for auction in New York.
Philippa said: “There are 12 identified portraits by Botticelli and this was the last one in private hands, so I was very intrigued.
“You can’t access this painting very much. It has been in some major museums all around the world but not often and so, in other words, it is not seen by the public.”
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She described the project as a “labour of love” and has since displayed it in her window for the passing public to see and enjoy.
To recreate the portrait, Philippa utilised her expert knowledge of the historic techniques and materials involved in creating the original.
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This included the use of a plaster-like layer of chalk and animal skin glue and a fast-drying egg tempera made from natural pigments such as lapis lazuli.
Philippa was also guided by Cennino Cennini’s 14th century treatise Il Libro dell’ Arte (The Craftsman’s Handbook), which details how artists worked during Botticelli’s time.
Philippa said: “I found it very comforting to do, particularly during the lockdowns. It was a lovely dialogue with the past.”
She added: “The technique requires building up the painting in tiny brushstrokes, which was scary as the lightest mark misplaced could alter the expression of the face.”
The original portrait was sold on January 28 at Sotheby’s in New York for $92.2 million, smashing the previous record for a Botticelli painting set in 2013 for $10.4 million.
Philippa is currently looking for a buyer or patron for her recreation, who she hopes will give it to a museum or an educational institution for educational purposes.
She hopes that will allow the public to have access to the image and its story because she objects “to only one person owning the original”.