This drawing was done at the Detroit Institute of Art over a period of several months. It’s of a sculpture by an anonymous carver working in oak, based on a Rogier van der Weyden design, c. 1460. It depicts the grief of Christ’s Mother and friends lamenting His death, after He has been lowered from the Cross.
I wanted to make this drawing while sitting before the piece, instead of from a photo. By doing so, observers expressed reactions to the sculpture I think they would otherwise not have had, or noticed, or would have suppressed. For example, a strong young African-American man surprised me when he inquired in a somewhat demanding tone why I chose this particular piece. His eyes welled up with tears as he spoke of the pathos and intensity of religious devotion this piece, and my drawing it, evoked in him. Volunteers and employees of the museum often stopped to offer kind and encouraging comments as I worked.
I will be forever grateful for the appreciation of passers-by: educators, professors, parents, children, and other artists who complimented my efforts with their words and their unguarded facial expressions. High school students momentarily dropped their cool demeanor, and quietly gazed at my drawing and the sculpture. College art students asked sincere questions about technique and materials with no hint of affected sophistication. Elementary school children proffered the most original remarks. A boy of no more than 6 asked, “Did you make all the pictures in this place?” A higher compliment I will never receive!
For several months I stole scattered hours to work on this drawing. During that time my father passed away. Richard Rochon was the premier architectural illustrator in the Detroit area and was well known around the entire country. He loved to make art and to look at art, and passed that love on to his children. It is dedicated to him – to you, Dad – for your profound inspiration and dedication to art and its craft, which you still exemplify and teach to me. My deepest thanks to you Dad.