08
Jul
09

Postpartum: Tribute to Vrubel

One of the most impressive things I saw in Ukraine was a fresco by Mikhail Vrubel in St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv. (John Pancake, the recently-retired arts editor of the Washington Post, recommended that I check it out.) Vrubel portrays the Madonna and Child in a traditional Eastern Orthodox iconic pose, but complicates the scene by showing some dark emotions on Mary’s face. She appears tired, overwhelmed, depressed.

I decided to recreate this scene in my home photography studio. Thanks to Courtney C., who modeled as Mary, and Tara C., who did the makeup.  I painted the background myself and made the costume. The scene is lit with three Elinchrom strobes — one with a honeycomb grid on the background, a medium gridded softbox overhead for dramatic lighting, and a large softbox at a distance for fill.

Tribute to Vrubel

Tribute to Vrubel

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3 Responses to “Postpartum: Tribute to Vrubel”


  1. July 10, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Matt–the end product looks awesome! You did a great job on the recreation.

  2. 2 Amy Erica
    July 31, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Looks great! Is that a baby doll?

    • 3 mattvalentinephotography
      July 31, 2009 at 5:41 pm

      Indeed it is a doll. I searched e-Bay for “realistic doll” and found several creepy dolls ranging from this one (about $150) to some with real baby hair that radiate body heat and ‘breathe’ (about $600). Apparently there are some disturbed adults who collect these things. Although this doll is fairly realistic, I’m not completely happy with the way it “reads” on camera. I have a better photo in which I substituted my pug, Murphy, on Madonna’s lap — you can tell the difference between a real dog and a fake baby.


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