I found this article on my tumblr feed, Pattie and I talked about it for about an hour last night. Great article, makes you think about your life and what your missing.
Painting is a craft that I feel I can work hard and excel at, so much so that I am amazed when people say to me “I could never do that”. I feel as though, if they tried hard enough they definitely could. But then I look at Bernini and say “How is that even possible? I could never do that”, the wall of skill that I’m facing here seems as high as the tallest building, insurmountable, impassable and overwhelmingly beautiful.
Apollo and Daphne
This is “Apollo and Daphne” a life-sized Baroque marble sculpture by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini executed 1622–25. Housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the work depicts the climax of the story of Daphne and Phoebus in Ovid‘s Metamorphoses. It’s amazing how Bernini sculpts flesh out of stone and makes it look gentle and wielding.
When Phoebus (Apollo), fated by Cupid‘s love-exciting arrow, sees the maiden daughter of Peneus a river god, he is filled with wonder at her beauty and consumed by desire. But Daphne has been fated by Cupid’s love-repelling arrow and denies the love of men. As the Nymph flees he relentlessly chases her—boasting, pleading, and promising everything. When her strength is finally spent she prays to her father Peneus:
“Destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys my life.'” Before her prayer was ended, torpor seized on all her body, and a thin bark closed around her gentle bosom, and her hair became as moving leaves; her arms were changed to waving branches, and her active feet as clinging roots were fastened to the ground—her face was hidden with encircling leaves.
Phoebus loved the graceful tree, clung to it and kissed the wood:
“But since thou canst not be my spouse surely thou shalt be my tree. Thee O laurel my hair, thee my lyres, thee my quivers shall always have … And as my head is youthful with unshorn locks, do thou likewise wear always evergreen honours of foliage. The laurel nodded assent with its branches lately made.”
The Rape of Proserpina
This is not the best photo of “The Rape of Prosepina” but it shows the full sculpture. The truly amazing part of this sculpture is the next image showing how Bernini sculpted the strong hands of Pluto sinking into the flesh of Prosepina. Truly awe inspiring.
The twisted contrapposto or figura serpentinata pose is reminiscent of Mannerism, and allows the simultaneous depiction of the abduction (as seen from the left, with Pluto striding to grasp her), the arrival in the underworld (as seen from the front, he appears triumphantly bearing his trophy in his arms) and her prayer to her mother Ceres to return to the real world 6 months a year (as seen from the right, with Proserpina’s tears, the wind blowing her hair, and Cerberus barking). Pushing against Pluto’s face Proserpina’s hand creases his skin, while his fingers sink into the flesh of his victim. Proserpina’s lips are slightly opened, as if she were screaming and begging for help. Upon closer examination, one would notice the delicately crafted marble tears that look as though they are dripping down her face.
Before I die I need to visit this sculpture in Rome.
I was looking a pictures today of my solo show way back in 2007. I’m really glad that I look back on these photos and feel a great sense of pride. Even though I really disliked the marketing that goes along with shows, which ultimately led me to stop painting for going on 5 years now, I still feel a profound sense of accomplishment. Lately the urge to create again has become stronger and stronger within me but, I’m not sure how to find the time. At some point I’m sure I will cut something out and make the time.
How could I not paint here? I remember in Florida when we would complain that it was too flat and the landscape potential was less than sub par. Here, I go to the grocery store and see mountains all around me.
I find myself exasperated, I have a longing to put brush to canvas yet all my tools are packed away ready for the move this month. Soon… soon I shall create again.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
In this rendition of Tennyson’s poem, John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) pictures the Lady of Shalott having just left her island, the stone stairs visible behind her, the loosening chain still in her hand. Rather than the mysterious and powerful figure portrayed by Hunt, she is a sorrowful maiden dressed in virginal white, which, like the crucifix and rosary next to the candles, suggest her spirituality. And, like the candles, only one of which still is lit, her life soon will be snuffed out, its sensuality, suggested by her red lips, long flowing hair, and low-slung girdle, unfulfilled. The tapestry that drags in the water is one that she wove on her loom and, in the two roundels that are visible, depicts the lady, herself, and Sir Lancelot, the cause both of her destruction and, in his affair with Queen Guinevere, that of Camelot itself. At the left margin of the canvas are two swallows, which, in their reappearance every spring, signify resurrection, just as the fallen leaf in the lady’s lap signals her loss of innocence and impending death.
The perfect song to go along with this painting.
Best known for his panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, Albert Bierstadt began his career as a painter of European landscapes. In 1856, during a period of study abroad, he spent time in Switzerland and completed the plein air sketches he would later use to compose Lake Lucerne, the most important painting of his early career.
In the spring of 1858 he sent the painting to New York for the annual exhibition at the National Academy of Design. The picture caused a sensation. Bierstadt was hailed as a bright new star on the American art stage and was elected an honorary member of the Academy.
Bierstadt’s painting offers a sweeping view of Lake Lucerne with the village of Brunnen in the middle distance and the alpine peaks Ematten, Oberbauen, Uri–Rotstock and St. Gotthard in the distance. Though an image of mountain grandeur, Lake Lucerne also contains numerous pastoral vignettes—a harvest scene near the center, a religious procession at the right, and a gypsy camp at the left.
One year after completing Lake Lucerne Bierstadt traveled to the Rocky Mountains for the first time. During the decade that followed he produced the western landscapes that brought him his greatest success. These views of the west, so often described as distinctly American, were born of Bierstadt’s experience abroad and frequency duplicate the composition of the first of his large–scale landscapes, Lake Lucerne.