Museum Blog

Konovalenko: Gem Carvings of Russian Life - Gypsies

Posted 9/28/2015 12:09 AM by Steve Nash | Comments

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is pleased to announce the display of Gypsies, Vasily Konovalenko’s gem-carving masterpiece. In it, a man and a woman quarrel in a complicated scene that is fantastic in detail. It is on loan from a private collection and will be on display through mid-2016.

Gypsies Man IV.2011-163-3.D

Images: Rick Wicker

A close-up of the man’s face reveals one of the most expressive and detailed faces the artist ever produced. His left hand is perfectly rendered, with veins and tendons clearly visible in all the right places. His tongue looks to be moving; his teeth are clearly visible. His nose and the crow’s feet around his right eye are astonishingly realistic. Perhaps most startling, however, are the man’s eyes.

To light this image, Museum photographer Rick Wicker used mirrors to ensure that light got up and under the man’s hat. The flash produced a slight “red eye” effect in the man’s right eye, which looks more human as a result.

A close-up of the woman reveals a youthful beauty giving her man an earful because of their broken wagon wheel. Her eye is made of three gemstones, making it extremely expressive. Her tongue and mouth are dynamic and nearly perfect; her obsidian hair is perfectly striated to indicate thick locks. Her dress is fluorite, her hands Indian jasper.

Gypsies Woman IV.2011-163-2.D

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