This little nude (9×12)was painted in 6 hours, the fourth of my Monday Night Paintings. As a group, we kept commenting about how the outline of her form reminded us of the Rokeby Venus (below) by Diego Velasquez, certainly the most attractive of all the Venuses painted by the old masters, at least the one most conforming to modern tastes of beauty. It is actually physically impossible for us to see the image that Venus is apparently looking at in that painting. It’s called the Venus Effect, after Velasquez’ Venus and another by Veronese (although that one gives me an uncomfortable exorcist feeling). For her head to be framed as it apparently is in the mirror, her head would have to be between the mirror and ourselves, blocking our view. I’ve seen this painting in person at the National Gallery in London and was completely unconscious of it being a problem.
The Rokeby Venus by Diego Velasquez
I like that — Artist’ license. The reflected image is also too large. In reality it would be smaller. I realized something like that while painting the Angel of Music. The Phantom is meant to standing behind the mirror, in a corridor beyond Christine’s room. At the true distance of at least 3 feet, he would appear smaller than I have portrayed him, but putting him at that distance would have wrecked the feeling of intimacy I wanted to portray. My original intention for that painting was to have Christine facing the mirror and reaching out towards it. However, the actual size of the reflected image in mirror, with my model standing in front of it and reaching her hand towards it, as well as the problem of angle (the Venus Effect) caused me to paint her with her back to the mirror and very close to it. I needed to establish that there was a reflection, but in order to see the reflection I wanted to see, Christine would have had to be transparent.