Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yesterday was a day full of culture. It included an introduction to reading images in the museum and a lighthearted, fun, classical New Year's concert. I'll share what I learned: what one sees in a painting very often has, deeper meaning. A farm scene in a 17th century painting is a lesson in philosophy and life. A shove of grain represents Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, who also was responsible for giving the law and rules and keeping people from bad ways. Pigs in a painting, imagine it in a portrait for instance, speak about sinfulness, the lack of cleanliness, also metaphorically. A rooster, who because of Peter and Jesus stands for betrayal, and a chicken are both symbols for indecency and a lack of chastity. I am snickering about a very proper friend who has roosters on everything in her kitchen and living room... An old woman holding a candle was always read as wisdom, and lost youth. Her message is to enjoy love when one can, without sowing too many wild oats. That message is mostly conveyed by knotted willows. So a simple painting of rural life hides and shows a book full of thoughts, a choice between sins and vices and doing the right thing. So an image becomes rhetoric without words.

1 comment:

  1. Imagine being in a museum, and interpreting a painting of nude nuns rolling cigars in a Cuban tobacco factory. Or a drawing of priests, wearing long robes, playing 'Hide the Egg', with crowds of adoring children, in Vatican Square, on Easter.