Delphic Sybil

this new project will be the portrait of michelangelo´s delphic sybil, as he has painted her on the fresko in the sistine chapel. the project is inspired by two things :

first, in a discussion it was stated that michelangelo was not able to paint or carve beautiful women, besides the mary of his pieta. i disagree strongly with that statement, as i think michelangelo has carved and painted beautiful women, same as not so beautiful ones,,,but why maybe they are all perceived as not so beautiful is that they dont match the modern view of beauty, as often michelangelos women show strong musculature, this not fashionable today anymore… so, with this carving, i want show the beauty michelangelo portrait…

second, i admire very much the way michelangelo painted. to me, it is a quite unusual way of painting, as all his paintings look like carvings, ,,, and, this made me want to try to “transform” one of his paintings into a carving, ….i hope i can do michelangelo justice,,,

to prepare, i have of course a foto in a book of the delphic sybil, after the restoration, so the colors are vivid and everything is well to see. to get a first feeling for the shapes i made a drawing, ,,,

oh, please, click on the small images to see them in larger !


this way i learn easily the proportions michelangelo used, and you can see i misjudged the length of her neck considerably… lesson learned, and on to carving …

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tamara
    May 21, 2009 @ 18:41:53

    That’s interesting about Micheangelo having his painting look like sculptures. They do have that 3-D quality to them. It probably comes from the fact that he was a magnificent sculptor as well. He knew the body so well that he could make it come alive in painting too.

    Regarding muscular looking women, I remember it being said that Micheangelo may have used male models to sculpt his female figures. That would account for them looking muscular. Today, I think that muscular athletic (slim) women are the thing that is viewed as desirable. He shows rounded and bulky women. So there is a variation of what is viewed as desirable.

    This subject that you have chosen looks very nice to carve. 🙂


  2. dorisfiebig
    May 21, 2009 @ 22:02:35

    hi tamara, yes to me michelangelos paintings, and drawings, look like he has chiseled them from marble…and yes, i have read that too about him using male models for woman too,,,but see he did carve and paint very feminine women too, just look at the mary of his pieta…no big muscles, very fine face,,, and the delphic sybil is such a beautiful woman too, though she has a tad bit stronger arms…


  3. Tamara
    May 28, 2009 @ 22:28:34

    I like her even at this stage without the more in depth carving on the shoulders. So in my opinion the low bas relief will work and look very nice with the high relief of the face. I checked out further and can see that you are carving in the detail of the hair with nice shadowing. It’s so important to make sure that the shadows aren’t too dark so as to draw the eye to the shadows. Of course, if the face has some deep shadows then it’s complimentary to have shadows elsewhere. It’s neat to see the step by step pictures and your commentary. 🙂


    • dorisfiebig
      May 29, 2009 @ 07:53:41

      oh, the shadows, yes tamara, i hope the shadows from the turban around the face will give the ballance…so, you answered a question i was going to ask, namely about the low -high-relief…i wil post new foto soon, and this is to decide. thanks for your valuable input


  4. Tamara
    May 30, 2009 @ 19:47:25

    With her shoulder coming forwards it gives the impression of high relief at that point. I see a balanced combination of high and low relief and like it that way.


    • dorisfiebig
      May 30, 2009 @ 21:45:20

      hi, tamara…yes you are right, the shoulder part looks more like highrelief than it is, and i think this is good… it is good to have my own impression supported, thanks for that


  5. Andy W
    Jun 07, 2009 @ 22:24:50

    Hi Doris,
    Great carving as usual. You are a great carver. I have been away quite a while and now see that you and Mark have this web page together. I will have to put it on my Favorites.
    Andy Willburger


    • dorisfiebig
      Jun 08, 2009 @ 04:02:10

      thanks andy, such a compliment from you means a lot, as i learned from you…remember the pointing machine ? you showed me how useful it is…thanks !


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