Models and Artists

A year or so ago I visited the Zorn Museum in Mora, Sweden, with another artist who pointed out that in the painting below Zorn had used the same model several times. Thereafter, I promised myself to take more care  when looking at genre paintings to see how often an artist might use the same model for different figures. Using a model several times is not a bad idea for the artist as he does not have the bother of finding new and reliable models for other characters in his painting. Below I have marked out the model in her various poses in the Zorn painting.


The Russian artist Abram Arkhipov, was strongly influenced by Zorn, and in this version of his Washerwomen, he uses a couple of models several times, just like Zorn.

Above are my marks showing the models in two or three positions. Arkhipov sensibly paints a couple of back views of the models making their appearances less obvious.

Emily Shanks was a British-born Russian artist. In this emotionally charged painting she uses just two models, but we see their faces only once each.


Below is one of Ilya Repin’s better known works which appears to have taken him about a decade to complete.

I believe he uses the same model three times for the top-knotted Cossacks in the foreground.


The way to work this multiple use of a model successfully, I find, is to avoid making it look obvious – Cagnacci in the following painting does not quite pull it off. I have a strong feeling here that even if one Cleopatra has died we have six more who can easily take her place.

The Death of Cleopatra, Guido Cagnacci, oil on canvas, 153 x 168.5cm, after 1659, Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

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