Monday, September 05, 2005

Light

Cass' comment to the "Sunflowers" posting below intrigued me:
"I was trying to figure out why I don't like a lot of paintings and why I do like the ones I like, and the only thing I could think of was that the painters I like all manage to make their paintings seem infused with light, which is rather an odd thing to say about Van Gogh since his technique is so heavy. Most of the others I like are Impressionists or post-Impr., but when you look at his work, even though he just slathers the paint on, they do just seem to almost glow from inside."

How true. Look at this beautiful study by the Italian Impressionist Federico Zandomeneghi (1841-1917), "In Bed."


It's not the subject matter that so draws us to the painting; certainly we have seen people sleeping. The face of the young girl is almost obscured, so it is not her personal beauty that attracts us. Rather it is the quality of the light that invites us to speculate about the sleeping figure, and her dreams.

7 comments:

portia said...

Stunning. Morpheus captured.

spd rdr said...

Indeed. It's even more breathtaking in person. But you'll have to go to Florence.

Cassandra said...

This one has another quality I have seen in at least one painting I love: mystery.

There is one Monet landscape (an obscure one you never see anywhere) that I could just stare at forever because it has a narrow path cutting through a field of red poppies leading over a hill and off into the distance.

I saw it for the first time at the art museum in Baltimore with my business law professor (for some reason she invited me up for the day to see the Monet exhibit - it was wonderful!). Looking at it, I could just feel my feet itching to take off down that path - it looked like it went somewhere unforgettable.

re: the painting: She looks like she's about to move, doesn't she?

Amazing.

I guess another corny comment - I hope this doesn't ruin it because it's kind of a Mom thing, but this has that same quality I used to love when I would sneak into the room and check on my sleeping sons. They are so beautiful you almost can't believe they're human sometimes. When I saw them sleeping, a million miles away, I always used to think of a line from a Kahlil Gibran poem my son's namesake gave us when he was born:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,

not even in your dreams.

spd rdr said...

I wouyldn't say that that's "corny." In fact I was reminded of the same thing when I saw the painting again this morning. It is as though the father (or mother) is standing just inside the door wondering whether to awken his child, or to let her drowze...and miss the first day of school.

Cassandra said...

I used to hate the first week of September so. It was the end of summer - the end of freedom. I just felt so much for the boys, having to go back to school.

Part of me always rebelled against having to wake them up to go back to school. It's funny - they've been gone for years now and yet I still feel that way this week: force of habit, I guess.

KJ said...

And people say that European women don't shave their pits.

Pile On® said...

Okay, it is high time I commented on this topic. The truly amazing thing about the use of light you are commenting on is that white oil paint is really not that bright white. In fact, it is a little on the dingy side.

Watercolor artists can let the paper show through to acheive brightness, as paper is much brighter than paints these days, but an oil painting artist does not have that luxury.

I know the illusion of brightness is acheived by having adjacent dark colors to contrast, as you see in this painting.

But that is easier said than done.