The Mourners vs. The Four Tetrarchs

The Mourners 50″x58″ (sold)
Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs  (detail)

Although not directly influenced by this sculpture ahead of time there are striking similarities between The Mourners and The Four Tetrarchs. Both works exhibit a unity between the figures and story behind them. Perhaps they all share the same burden or a recent loss.

The portraits of these Tetrarchs emphasized an abstract and stylized communal image; individualized features were forsaken in order to present them as the embodiment of a united empire. This message sought to quell the fears and anxieties born out of years of civil strife and short-lived emperors, and so in this extreme example, the portraiture of the Tetrarchy cannot be defined as the representation of individuals, but rather as the manufactured image of their revolutionary political system.

The figures in The Mourners are stiff and rigid sharing stylistic similarities with the sculpture. Although each figure is unique there is no attempt at pictorial likeness. ” Their faces are repetitive and they seem to stare in a kind of trance.” Hand placement is also important. As a two dimensional art form, painting permits certain liberties that would not make sense in three dimensional work. An implied embrace is created by the hand and arm placement that contrasts the direct physical connection of the sculpture.

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