Since Sister Wendy’s chosen masterpieces are listed in alphabetical order by artist surname, that’s how I’m going to summarise my highlights for you–letter by letter starting with the ‘A’s! Some letters are more populated than others and therefore might have to broken up into multiple posts. Here we go!
What I Done Learned in Section A
New to Me:
I’d never seen this painting before and what do you know–it resides in the Tate Gallery in London! I like how Alma-Tadema imbues his imagination of the baths at Pompeii with (perhaps sentimental but nevertheless) beautiful Victorianism–which, upon further research, seems to be his thing. Sister Wendy notes how in this painting Alma-Tadema is able to study the classical nude figure whilst maintaining a sense of propriety. Those Victorians! (I’d wear that bathing cap any day.)
Good to Me:
We are going to Florence in October, and excitingly, a version of this gorgeous painting is housed in the Palazzo Pitti and I’m gonna see it with my own two eyes!!!! I am kiiiiiind of obsessed with Allori’s depiction of Judith. As Sister Wendy points out, there is something fascinating about Judith’s beautiful innocence (both sexual and demure) juxtaposed with the gruesome deed she has done. I like how she’s looking right at us in defiant triumph, seemingly un-phased by the severed head in her hand. What a Betty.
Bad to Me:
Sister Wendy almost convinced me that this painting is good. Almost. Ohhh yeah amazing use of colour and…and…nope, sorry, just some crummy red squares to me. Hate it.
Surprise to Me:
Initially, I dismissed this painting immediately as rubbish (aka not my style), but suddenly the subject’s legs jumped out at me and I was arrested and fascinated by the sensuality of the piece. Sister Wendy exactly describes my experience: ‘Auerbach’s images emerge and disappear; they will not stay still for us to visually digest them. E.O.W. has a compelling presence that makes it impossible to glance at with merely casual interest’. Amen, Sister.
Irreverently Mockable to Me:
It seems to me that this one would have been more aptly titled Christ Blinding the Seeing Man. Sister Wendy likes the blah blah something something about the painting, but it just looks to me like He is poking the old man’s eyeball out/helping him with a major booger. Get your finger outta there, Jesus! I’m also not a huge fan of crowded medium shot compositions–this painting is menacing, ghoulish, and claustrophobic to me…and not in a good way like Judith!
And thus ends our tour of the A artists. I hope you’ve had fun and learned some things (like, my opinions). Stay posted for the brilliant Bs!
How about an A word for this week’s Weekes Word?
Amanuensis: Latin, from (servus) a manu ‘(slave) at hand(writing), secretary’ + -ensis ‘belonging to’ and meaning a literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts. EX: Amanuensis to Sister Wendy, Weekes worked from dusk til dawn fetching tea and ensuring all papers and paintings were in order in the hermitage.
xWG // #dazeandweekes