I apologize for the delay in posts, last week was one of the most trying in my recent memory. A couple of unhappy anniversaries, a friend of mine died and just general life unpleasantness combined to make a heady mixture of sadness. A lot of times people will have a stiff upper lip when it comes to depression and power through whatever it is that triggered it, while others people will end up wallowing in their own mire. While I tend to do both more than anything I took a lot of solace in art and thought I’d share some of the paintings that helped me recently and in the past.
This painting has a really interesting history that is well worth reading up on. One of my favorite things about Love among the ruins is the blue stocking foot of the man that perfectly matches the woman’s dress. Those little touches pepper most of Burne-Jones paintings and make studying them a joy. The woman is clinging onto the man with a fierceness and she seems shell-shocked. Her lover has her in a protective embrace, gently placing a kiss on her forehead and taking his own reprieve. There are dark clouds in the background with no sun breaking through and the only hope to be found lie in the flowers. The deep rich blue of the woman’s gown perfectly contrast with the deep indigo of her paramour. I always wondered what Burne-Jones was thinking of when he painting this. Was this inspired by his affair with Maria Zambaco or something else? It’s intriguing.
One day I will write my ode to the Unicorn Tapestries, located at the offshoot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art called the Cloisters. It will be absurdly long, full of flowing adjectives and references and perhaps some pictures of the surrounding area. For now let me state that more than just about any other picture, this comforts me. Yes the Unicorn is in captivity. Yes it has been hunted and perused and tricked. However the serene look on its face just makes me feel as if everything will be okay. It never ceases to amaze me how vibrant the whole Unicorn tapestries series are, there’s also a tangible sense of awe whenever you walk into the room. I’ve spent many a moon in the room where the hang, contemplating life, the universe and Everything. The Cloisters itself is located in Fort Tyron Park and the whole museum is well worth spending an entire day.
Back when I first began to study art I was told I must devote a significant time to the Italian Renaissance. I balked. I found most of the Renaissance paintings boring and full of allegory I couldn’t give a fig about. That changed when I first spied the Three Graces by Raphael and to this day it is still my favorite Renaissance painting. I can’t rightly state what most appealed to me about this painting. It might have been the apples the graces are holding or the jewelry but either way once I discovered it I was enthralled. More than any other painting in the past week (and there were a few, I’m only highlighting a few) this has brought me the most solace. I think it’s because the Graces themselves give off this feeling of serenity and support. I also think it’s masterful the way Raphael staged the stars in the background of this, they give just a hint of the sublime to the whole piece.
Happy Birthday Alphonse Mucha! I’m publishing this on his birthday so it seems fitting to highlight one of this works. I first discovered Mucha when I was doing research on Absinthe. I came across the famous Absinthe Robette painting done by Henri Privat-Livemont and a friend remarked that if I enjoyed that style, I might like Mucha’s work. I took one look and was absolutely floored. The way he frames all of his paintings is a joy to behold. I feel like this painting a lot of the time, just completely worn out yet also dreaming of more. I love the background images in this a lot, it’s almost as if you are looking at the picture through a slight haze, perhaps induced by the moon. Mucha’s works always have this dream-like ethereal quality to them.
My next couple of posts will take a closer look at some of the stunners of the Pre-Raphaelites and how I use them for inspiration in the modern world as well as an ode to Nefertiti. However if you enjoyed this particular one, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!