BEARING WITNESS

While the eyes of the wounded Oban soldier are closed, and the comrade on his left side looks into the distance, the third soldier (above) stares directly down at you as you stand in front of the monument.  This has the effect of making you feel that the work is addressing you directly, creating a relationship between viewer and artwork.  You are in effect compelled to bear witness to the scene by the directness of the soldier's gaze.  This idea can be traced back to the Renaissance, in 'De Pictura' Alberti advised history painters to include one figure at the side of the composition gesturing towards the scene while engaging the viewer with his eyes as though inviting the viewer into the scene.

 

Left - Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi, the Lami Altarpiece.  Here Botticelli has clearly followed Alberti's dictum, while the rest of the crowd look on as the Magi present their gifts to the new born Christ child the figure on the right (widely held to be a self-portrait of Botticelli himself) stands apart and looks out at the viewer, fixing you with his gaze and drawing you in, creating a sense that you, the viewer, are implicated in the scene.  

 

Strangely Botticelli in this painting seems to bear a passing resemblance to the Oban soldier (above left is a reversed image of the Botticelli portrait close up), with the same long roman nose, high cheek bones and arched brow.  This notion is perhaps not as strange as it might at first seem when considering the resemblance of Carrick's Killin soldier to Michelangelo's David (see Killin).  

 

Carrick's works frequently drew inspiration from the Renaissance and it is also interesting how a number of his works seem to draw comparison with various famous artworks on the subject of the Magi (See Fraserburgh 2 'A Cold Coming')

 

 

4514807194_211x371.jpg 4517698065_493x369.jpg 4517707075.jpg The Magi