To be in with the Old Masters, a student of portraiture must boldly go to where it all began. At the Florentine Charles H. Cecil Studios, there an art is taught so fine that fewer than one hundred artists in the UK are trained in this classical manner, and Harriet Dahan-Bouchard is one such practitioner.
Born in London to two artists, Harriet soon moved to Downside School, Somerset, where she spent most of her adolescent life. At the age of eight, her father bought her a book on Ingres, the book that would be the catalyst in finding her vocation; on receipt of this seminal work, Harriet asked her father, the surrealist painter Philip Bouchard, ‘is there money in it?’ Positively assured, her mind was set, and life was full of rigorous artistic training from henceforth.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting for a sanguine with Harriet. The process took approximately ten hours over four sittings, and the result is, I believe, a fabulous likeness. The patience and focus with which the artist commands the room is not at all unnerving, her passion is sincere and dedicated, and her talent indisputable. This process brought to my attention the wonderful rarity of a talent and technique like Harriet’s.
From that early age of eight, the artist honed her skills, which came to fruition whilst studying in Florence. The program is a strict three years, divided into drawing (nudes and portraits), painting, and painting in oil. Students here are taught a traditional method of creation, dating back to the 16th century, called sight sizing. In this method, the sitter is placed directly next to the canvas and the artist moves from looking at the sitter meters away to the canvas, in constant motion and watchfulness. Proportion remains accurate and the result is visual exactitude.
Harriet currently works as a portrait artist from Somerset, and takes commissions for oils and sanguine. She is also exhibiting some of her work at theBathbranch of Urban Outfitters until November, in which the clash of classical and modern is at once both intriguing and completely natural given that Harriet, as the artist, breaches both of these worlds.
She is also soon to be featured on the new art community website called ‘MeMyArt’, a buying and selling site that also offers an insight into the creative process’ of countless young artists. The feature will be on her approach to art, which for any budding young painters is necessary read.
This is an artist worth watching. Harriet is at the forefront of a generation of artists and writers dedicated to traditional technique and original inspiration, and her emergence onto the art market signifies the begins of an extremely exciting artistic renaissance.
Harriet is currently available for commission and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.