How many movie stars have been spotted in the Art Institute? Perhaps more than we think and in different ways than we might imagine . . . In fact, a portrait print with a surprising resemblance to Bill Murray will be on view until the end of October in hallway gallery 208a!
No one has identified the sitter for this strikingly modern seeming, but in fact seventeenth-century Dutch chiaroscuro woodcut. The artist, Jan Lievens, was mainly a painter and etcher; most of his early portrait prints resemble the orientalizing designs of his close friend and studio-roommate, Rembrandt.
Lievens’ only woodcut, this work has great immediacy. He achieved this effect by contrasting a stark black outline block with an ochre tone block that highlights the glistening, balding pate. Even without a known sitter, the print was a popular one, with at least one lithograph copy made in the nineteenth century.
The chiaroscuro technique (printing highly-contrasting color in multiple blocks to mimic drawings) became popular in the Spanish Netherlands and the Dutch Republic in the early seventeenth century. Another even more intricate portrait done in this technique by the Flemish artist Christoffel Jegher after Peter Paul Rubens is also on view in 208a, but this time the sitter is thought to be a member of the Venetian nobility.
Although we haven’t seen him in the galleries lately, our inaugural celebrity doppelgänger has some Chicago connections. Born in Wilmette, Illinois, Bill Murray was part of Second City troupe in 1973 before moving to New York for Saturday Night Live, and Los Angeles for the comedies and art-house films that followed.
Look for more posts on ARTicle featuring Art Institute artworks and their famous twins in the future! And special thanks to Mardy Sears, Conservation Technician in Prints and Drawings, who alerted us to this particular doppelgänger and who has been avidly collecting them since 2007.
Jan Lievens (Dutch, 1607–1674) Bust of a Man Facing Forward, 1630/40. Chiaroscuro woodcut from two blocks, in black and light brown ink on cream laid paper. Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus H. Adams, Frank B. Hubachek, and the Alsdorf Foundation, 1959.542
Bill Murray, in Lost in Translation, Focus Features 2003.