Remembering // The Veiled Lady
May 3rd, 2021 // Writer: Shane Allen // Remembering
It's always special when something stops you in your tracks and makes you wonder how it was executed. Something that doesn't rely on cheap tricks or gimmicks, you can tell it's well crafted, and care was put into it. When the technique used to make something is clever enough to make you wonder, then it's probably something you should hold on to.
The sculpture The Veiled Lady, is a perfect example of just that. Sculpted by Raffaelo Monti in Italy around 1850, the bust depicts the Virgin Mary cloaked behind a see-throughish veil. Even though made completely out of stone, you can make out the shape of her face. Giving off the feeling of the soft fabric is attaching to her skin. Her veil blocks her face from the viewer.
The sculpture demonstrates a brilliant technique, creating this illusionary look that the veil is translucent even though the material in which it is constructed is completely solid. The precision and accuracy needed to accomplish this look are beyond the norm.
Another almost identical sculpture of the same subject, The Veiled Virgin is another sculpture created by Giovanni Strazza. They were both created reportedly within the same decade in Italy and both use this same technique to achieve this illusion.
This technique is called the "Wet Drapery" technique that originates from old Greco architecture. Depicting the feeling of a wet fabric naturally wrinkling along the subjects body.
There is a feeling of this ambiguous mystery in the sculpture. The fear of the unknown comes to mind. Humans are naturally fearful of things that are obscured, things we cant see because something is in the way. That why we as humans are drawn to be afraid of someone or something wearing a mask. It's because we can't see the face of the person we are looking at, their emotions are obscured and that triggers fear in our brains Km
That's almost what is happening in this sculpture. Even though you can still clearly see her face and her ambiguous smile, it still is slightly obscured by this veil. There still one layer between you and her. That layer could be anything you imagine it to be.
What is in between you and the thing you are looking at? Is it actually as big or as wide as then you think it is? Or is it really as clear and fragile as it looks? How easy is it to see through whatever it is you are looking at? Some things appear to be something they are not and the closer you may look at something the more you may realize that That's the effect that the Veiled Lady has. Truly amazing.