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Artist Spends Hundreds of Hours Drawing Hyperrealistic Portraits Mimicking Renaissance Techniques

At first glance, the highly-technical drawings of Emanuele Dascanio look as though they’re photographs—it’s only until you see the Italian artist put pencil to paper that you realize and appreciate the true value of his artistic skill. The large, labor-intensive portraits—some that take up to 780 hours to complete—feature a combination of graphite and charcoal that are expertly rendered to form hyperrealistic compositions. Against a pitch-black backdrop, the illuminated figures’ incredible details are brought to life: every stray hair, wrinkle, and fold of fabric is visible.

Although Dascanio’s work is contemporary, it has a classic feel to it. The subjects are often lit with a dramatic single light source that recalls the paintings of Caravaggio, the renowned 16th century artist. This influence was fostered by Dascanio’s assistantship to Italian painter Gianluca Corona, who taught him the oil techniques of the old masters working during the Renaissance. Dascanio has since translated these skills into the monochromatic works that undoubtedly fool the eye with their extreme precision.

Emanuele Dascanio: Website | Facebook | DeviantArt

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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