mad in pursuit notebook


Alabaster Maiden, 1929


Subject. Art Deco semi-nude, sculpted in pieces from marble and alabaster. About 18 inches high. She moves to cover herself with her right hand, while offering (or receiving) a sheaf of wheat with her left. She is coy. She is vulnerable.

Did you know that in Shakespeare’s time, sheaves of wheat were carried in the wedding procession and sometimes tucked into the Bride’s veil?  Wheat, while synonymous with Fall and all its bounty, is also a symbol of fertility. It is referred to as the “Giving Grain”, and because wheat was historically a sign of bounty and prosperity, it was also the incubus [? sic] for the advent of the Wedding Cake. [Mix, Mingle, Glow]

In Greek mythology, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fruitfulness, is often depicted holding a sheaf of wheat, her symbol. But this looks like a girl, not a goddess.

So perhaps we see a virgin on her wedding night.

The piece is signed on the back of the base: Julien - Florence Italy - 1929. Because the location is in English, I assume it was made for export.

Composition. This is a straight-ahead shot, attempting to show some of the delicate modeling of the sculpture. With the lighting, I've tried to suggest the mood of the boudoir.

PS layersTechnical. The statue is nearly all shades of white and the alabaster skirt is translucent. My first attempts were flat. I wound up using two lights -- one, high on the right; the other, low on the left, with a scrim of old yellowed silk. In Photoshop, I added a Levels adjustment layer to darken the skirt in an attempt to bring out the detail and some translucence. A bit of vignetting was added using a 50% gray layer in Overlay mode.


Camera Data

tech specs

Jul 17, 2012