ὅ παῖς καλός – Chin up Richard Armitage…

A quick perusal through a gallery of images will confirm that Richard Armitage has perfected his version of a chin down, eyes down partial to full profile look, especially for fashion/artistic style shoots, to great effect.  I had the one below (Keith Clouston, 2011) in mind when I was walking through the Met earlier this year.

Keith Clouston for Recognize Magazine - June 2011 Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

Keith Clouston for Recognize Magazine – June 2011
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

Most recently, another from the plethora of images shot by Robert Ascroft in December 2012 displays a similar look in a 3/4 body pose.

I'm not looking at you.... Robert Ascroft - December 2012 Source:  richardarmitagenet.com

I’m not looking at you….
Robert Ascroft – December 2012
Source: richardarmitagenet.com

These images and this pose have struck a chord with me from day one, and I finally figured out why.  In part, I like them purely because I’m fascinated by the angular lines of his face that are set off so beautifully in profile, but also because of the quiet, contemplative tone of such images.  There is a certain serenity, but perhaps a bit of sadness.  This pose, and how Richard Armitage inhabits it reminded me distinctly of several images from Greek art…

Greek art, especially sculpture and vase painting is full of scenes of men engaged in action – athletics and warfare especially.  It is much less common to see men purely at rest, unless it is in a scene of banqueting, but those scenes don’t really convey the same sort of stillness and introspection of the images above.  For classical Greek men it seems, stillness and contemplation was reserved for situations when death was prominent.

Grave Stele from Brauron Museum of Fine Arts - Boston

Grave Stele from Brauron
Museum of Fine Arts – Boston

Above is a funeral scene where a young man in a similar pose…body relaxed, chin down, eyes down as he looks to the ground contemplating his life.  This is the figure of the deceased depicted on the stone, or stele that would have marked his burial.  This pose is quite common for funerary art…the figure of the deceased avoids eye contact with the living – a sculptural indication that he’s no longer of this world, but belongs to the Underworld.

Below, we see Odysseus in a scene from his trip to the Underworld (Odyssey, XI) in which he is conversing with the shade of his recently deceased comrade Elpenor.  Odysseus, though still alive, exhibits the same pose of quiet contemplation at he listens to Elpenor’s story. (One other place this pose frequently appears is in scenes where warriors are preparing for battle…ie, where death is a distinct possibility.)   These scenes are poignant, emotionally evocative, beautiful in their way.

Scene from Homer's Odyssey - Odysseus visits the shade of Elpenor in the Underworld Source:  Museum of Fine Arts - Boston

Scene from Homer’s Odyssey – Odysseus visits the shade of Elpenor in the Underworld
Source: Museum of Fine Arts – Boston

 Clearly, similar images of Richard Armitage are not meant to convey any notion of funerary sadness, but they do have the power to evoke strong emotional responses…I don’t think it’s accidental that photographers consistently capture this look, it’s a good one for him… ὅ παῖς καλός!

I'm still not looking at you....but you're looking at me aren't you?? Robert Ascroft - December 2012 Source:  richardarmitagenet.com

I’m still not looking at you….but you’re looking at me aren’t you??
Robert Ascroft – December 2012
Source: richardarmitagenet.com

(Incidentally, at the risk of displaying my complete ignorance of men’s fashion…are those sans-a-belt trousers?  🙂 )

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14 comments on “ὅ παῖς καλός – Chin up Richard Armitage…

  1. Leigh says:

    I agree — the eyes cast down, the head inclined, the pensive set of the mouth all speak of contemplation, of inward thoughtfulness, of a stillness and serenity that is separate from the chaos of the here and now. And I am the first to admit this gets to me.

    • obscura says:

      OK, I’m going to admit to something – it’s really silly, but with some of those frontal shots, I’m almost uncomfortable…his gaze is sometimes so direct and penetrating – like he can see me gazing at him and I have to look away. That might be part of the appeal of the pensive ones too 🙂

      • kelbel75 says:

        not silly at all! I feel the same way 🙂 the ones where he’s not looking at the camera are a lot easier to browse at my own pace. the straight on ones make me feel like I have to make a quick judgement for some reason, like I’m carrying on a conversation with him. with the others, I’m free to admire, sight unseen 😉

        • obscura says:

          *sigh of relief* It’s always good to hear that I’m not alone in my reactions!

          • Laurie C says:

            I feel the same way, too. It’s as if he’s looking into my soul even though it’s only a picture! Can you imagine really being on the receiving end of that gaze?

          • obscura says:

            I give homage to all thee who have remained upright in the face of “the gaze” in person 🙂

  2. kelbel75 says:

    I love that you titled that picture “I’m not looking at you”, because that’s how I see his expression as well 🙂 but are you saying that RA belongs in the underworld?…well, he is sinful 😉 *laughs*

    • obscura says:

      🙂 Oh no, not unless it’s the Elysian Fields…or on the throne – I think RA might play a spectacularly brooding Hades!

    • obscura says:

      I forgot part…these downcast eyes sometimes make me think of a child’s notion of “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me…” It’s mysterious in a way, but also endearing – but of course I’m not completely objective 😉

  3. katie70 says:

    I have liked the 1st picture of Richard in pink shirt and navy suit since I 1st saw it. I am able to have that picture in my mind when I need to stay calm. Last week it was to stay still and not breath when told for a CT scan. On the ceiling was a picture of flowers that where the same color as that shirt. I have also brought up the picture to have a nerve test last year and in the dentist chair. It was the 1st one of the bearded pictures that I could finally see that it was Richard.

    The down cast eyes could be a way to look at someone without them knowing that you are looking at them. Shy me has done that.

    • obscura says:

      I know what you mean…there is just something so still and peaceful about it. That is a good point about the downcast eye…”maybe I am looking at you, but you’ll never know” 🙂

  4. […] Richard Armitage’s chin position. More meaningful than you might think! […]

  5. […] This chin down, eyes down pose is one that has hit me in the feels before…what is he thinking about? […]

  6. […] on display in this exhibit, but the search did inspire me to look around a bit when I got home.  I’ve talked before about my attraction to the head down, profile view portraits of Richard Armitage.  It is a pose […]

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