A visit to the chambers of Bedfordshire -based Mistress Paris provided the spark for the theme of this portrait. She told me of her love for the painting and sculpture of Michelangelo and so I developed her portrait from that.
Her chambers are called “The Oubliette” – a word used in castle architecture to denote a secret dungeon with an opening only at the top. So I showed a hand reaching up from this oubliette and Mistress Paris’s right hand reaching down to touch it, like God’s finger touching Adam in the Creation scene of the Sistine Chapel.
Her left hand holds a flayed skin as the artist depicted himself in the Last Judgement. Above hover two angels. The benevolent Angel of the Ecstasy holds a lamp to guide the reaching hand from the oubliette, while the Angel of the Agony smiles down malevolently with whip in hand.
Together they remind us of the “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, the biographical novel written 1961 by American author Irving Stone, and subsequently made into a film.
It is also the website address of Mistress Paris