Saturday 18 March 2017

Vectors of Heavy-heartedness

David, View from the Luxembourg
There are direct physical resemblances to [Géricault’s] style: the grey sky, the dull sunshine of an early autumn afternoon, a predominance of grey and beige and cream, with only a red poppy in the green grass to give the positive accents. All these elements, although faithfully recorded, are used as vectors of heavy-heartedness. There is also a psychological resemblance to Géricault, for despite its rational pattern the picture conveys emptiness and wistfulness, and therefore approximates to Géricault’s ability to convey states of mind which can be experienced through the painted image. It is the only unpopulated picture David ever executed: a group of winnowers in the middle distance is almost scratched out. A tiny figure is outlined against the beautiful shaky fence. In the path on the left a woman glides past with a water pot on her head. It has the calm and the unreason of certain dreams.
Anita Brookner, Jacques-Louis David, Ch. 9, 'Reversal'

The Luxembourg Gardens are familiar to readers of Brookner. Numerous characters seek out the gardens' iron chairs. Emma Roberts does so in Leaving Home, squandering time that, she finds, has suddenly become precious.

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