Saturday, 9 May 2009

A young man and another moment of embarrassment

Readers may I introduce you to a good friend of mine ?
Reader, Mr Albrecht Durer,
Albrecht ... the readers.

I have previously blogged on my love of the Pre Raphaelites and how they, unwittingly, steered me into a degree in Art History, but this gentleman was my first love.
It is a self portrait by Albrecht Durer, a German artist of the Late 15th/early 16th Century probably best known for his engravings. "Melancholia I" and "The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse" and his watercolours, "Praying Hands" and "The Hare" but he was also a jeweller, a mathematician and a writer. A Catholic, but a Catholic who read and discussed Reformation works by writers such as Erasmus and Luther. Not always the best career move in those days, but he was among the great Renaissance men, who thought, researched and travelled to broaden their minds. A true polymath

Durer painted and drew self-portraits throughout his life, with one of the earliest dating from 1484 when he was a boy of 13. The picture above was painted in 1498, a handsome, confident and wealthy young man, who looks out of the picture directly into your eyes "look at me, I have arrived". his confidence, his arrogance enchanted me.

Anyway, years passed and I was in Madrid for 4 days whilst my husband was at a conference. First port of call (after a brief detour into El Corte Ingles) was The Prado, Spains National Gallery. It is packed with amazing art, the semi pornographic paintings by Titian for Phillip II, the tortured nightmares of Goya and the knowing observations of Velasquez. I was in seventh heaven wandering from room to room, then, with no warning, on the far wall of a small room in the basement was "my boy".

It was a remarkable moment and I am embarrassed to admit I burst into tears, much to the discomfiture of the custodian sitting there, who had probably imagined a quiet and uninterrupted afternoon enjoying a post prandial snooze. He muttered darkly into his lapel, requesting back up, just in case I had evil designs on his charge, his eyes flickering towards the mad woman who was by then sniffling and smearing mascara around her face. So much for the English stiff upper lip. Eventually I pulled myself together and summoning a ghastly combination of Spanish, Italian and English tried to explain what had happened. His face cleared "Senora, todas las mujeres inglesas tienen gusto de hombres extranjeros"*

The three paintings below are other gentlemen who's awareness of their own worth and strength of character shine out of the canvas, enjoy them.

* apologies to Spanish speaker I cannot promise the accuracy of my translation, and for non Spanish speakers "all English women like foreign men"


fran39 said...

Lovely blog, hon! Fxx

Maternal Tales said...

Bless you for crying - I am so with you though. I too did an Art History degree. My first love? - Caravaggio. These days though I'm lucky if I get to visit one gallery a I'm sure if I saw a Caravaggio exhibition I'd probably cry too... Love Durer's Hare - when I was a student I used to have it as a postcard pinned to my wall!

Katherine said...

Heelllooo there...given you an award over at my Supply;. Hope that's ok?

Titian red said...

Fran39 - Hi, thank you, who'd have thought 35 years ago I'd do this ? xx

Maternal Tales. Did you see "Private Life of an Easter Masterpiece" on BBC2 this year ?It was Caravaggios "Taking of Christ" really interesting.

Katherine. Hope it's ok ? I'm thrilled, thank you so much. I will pass it on as soon as I can x

Maternal Tales said...

Oh no - I didn't! What a shame. I'd like to say I hardly get time to watch tv these days, but that would be a lie ;-)!! Just missed it - probably wasn't paying attention. I'll do a scout around and see if I can find some reviews! Thanks for the tip x

Richard Hayden Brooks said...
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