20 May 2015 at 15:49:26 MDT
I was actually given a very broad range of dates and places for this image so it surprised me that choosing a subject that would match the given character's personality would be so difficult! As my options were many, I wanted to avoid doing an image in a place that I have already visited, and ultimately Spain drew my interest. After a lot of research into a few ideas, as well as some discussion with the commissioner, we ultimately went with a Spanish prostitute.
Initially, my inclination was to draw the character as a Spanish 'maja', or common-class woman. In fact, many high class ladies at the time would actually dress in the fashions - if a bit more extravagant - of the maja as a way to reject French fashions. However, to find images of the simpler, lower class dress is incredibly difficult as it was rarely documented or preserved, let alone drawn or painted by an artist. That being said, majas were a favourite subject of some painters.
In particular, Francisco de Goya was a rather famous Spanish painter who, among his paintings, created both the The Nude Maja and later The Clothed Maja (on which these two sketches of mine are obviously based on). I further drew on Goya's portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel along with Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's Four Figures on a Step and Two Women at a Window which was done about a century or so earlier than Goya, but gave me an insight into how Spanish prostitutes would dress and solicit their services (in this case the lifting of the mantilla - a distinctly Spanish thing at this time - to show hair). In this case the mantilla (headscarf) would far more likely be of solid linen as you can see in Murillo's paintings, but I ended up going with a slightly more extravagant black lace mantilla.
I also ended up doing two versions as I both wanted to show the clothing as well as the character's rubanesque body type (which I had a lot of fun drawing!)