Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Celebrating Beauty

My oldest son is getting a lot of extra hours at the art museum where he works, because of one important painting. La Bella is on display for a short time and they are making a very big deal about it. The opening weekend was loaded with events, some drawing international guests. The museum hired an extra security guard just to keep watch over La Bella, which is displayed alone in a special gallery. Christian even had to buy a new shirt so all security employees would match during opening week.

When he first told me about all the hype, I thought it seemed a bit over the top for one painting, especially when his boss announced that no one could take time off during opening week, meaning that Christian had to miss a family trip.

Then I looked La Bella up online. I learned that this Titian portrait (Sometimes subtitled, The Woman in the Blue Dress or The Beautiful Woman) dated back to the 16th century. As I looked at the sweet-faced young woman, I understand why a museum would plan events, hire extra security, and display it in a separate room. I pictured art students sitting back and taking in every detail of this lovely lady’s gown, face, hands, hair, and accessories. I’ve been to the museum where Christian works twice but I think a third trip might be in order. Seeing La Bella up close would be worth the cost of admission.

How often do we take time to appreciate rare beauty, particularly art that is hundreds of years old, created during a period of history when people may not have had the technology and other advances that we enjoy today but did have the giftedness, discipline, and patience to immortalize a gorgeous young woman on canvas? How amazing to consider the hours that one nameless woman spent standing still in an obviously heavy dress while the painter portrayed the shimmers in the fabric, the positions of her hand, the curls in her hair, and the gentle expression on her face.

Paintings like this just aren’t done anymore. I almost made me wish we weren’t quite so advanced.

When was the last time you took time to really take in something beautiful? How has your relationship with God impacted your appreciation for beauty, whether it’s something created by Him or by a gifted artist?

You might want to look up La Bella online. The woman in the painting couldn’t be more than 19. Picture yourself wearing a dress like hers and standing still while someone painted your picture. Would you consider that a fun way to spend an afternoon?


Ms. Blasé said...

If I were La Bella, I would only sit for that portrait if air conditioning were available! :) Seriously, though, when I was an art major in college, we were required to sit and be drawn occasionally and I didn't find it particularly entertaining. Also, depending on the complexity of the pose, it could be quite challenging to remain still for an extended amount of time.

"Paintings like this just aren’t done anymore."

Not to be controversial, but I have to politely disagree. A couple of years ago I submitted my artwork into one of the Portrait Society of America's competition. And, even though I didn't win, I discovered a slew of amazingly talented artists. They do awesome work. Check out some of the past winners here:!__competitions

Sean Cheetham is another great contemporary portraitist.

Emii said...

Sometimes I wonder why our world can't live in the times of beautiful dresses and horses that take us everywhere. I was in our school production of Oliver and our scene, Who Will Buy, we got to wear these dresses. I loved my dress -- my sister had one too, and we and our friend just wanted to live in them forever!