05 May 2011

Ambushed by simplicity

Sometimes simplicity of line or shade or colour can reach past sophistication, touch something deep inside, and make you want to cry.

It's happened to me twice, recently: on both occasions, through depiction of a face.

The first, a week ago, was a drawing of a young woman, in graphite on silk, shown to me by my friend Eunice. It was by René David – therefore presumably, though there was no date, about a century ago. The photograph on the left (taken with a pocket compact camera, through glass, in a café) really doesn't begin to do it justice; you'll just have to take my word for the beautiful, soft, pitch perfect delicacy of line and tone in the original which completely undid me.

The second, also showing the face of a young woman, is a detail from a stained glass window (on the right). It depicts St Mary the Virgin, within a window in the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral. I came there for another reason entirely, and was surprised by this face despite having passed it many times before. The rest of the window, including other faces (for instance, the infant Christ) had no particular effect on me ... but this one face stopped me in my tracks.

OK: I'm a softy. Unrepentantly so.

As usual, click (or double click) either image for a larger view.

1 comment:

Dr. C said...

The eyes of Mary have that strange ambiguity of both looking at you and looking through you.