Light Work Annual 2012: Michael Tummings

Norfolk Boy I, 2010, Michael Tummings

A formal portrait of a youth follows the most distinguished conventions of old master portraiture. He stands in the foreground, facing forward, and is shown full-length. Myriad details define social standing and skills, notably the pair of pheasants dangling from each hand like attributes of old. In the light, cool tonality of its palette as well as the precise composition, this photograph evokes one of the most famous figure paintings of the eighteenth century, Watteau’s Giles. Regardless of whether that allusion was intentional, what is remarkable is the gravitas Michael Tummings provides to his subjects. Here in the cold morning light of eastern England a ritual as old as time helps usher this boy into manhood.

— Elizabeth A. Brown, former chief curator of the Henry Art Gallery

Read the rest of the essay in Contact Sheet 167: The Light Work Annual 2012.

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