Skip to main content

Leonardo da Vinci, Virgin of the Rocks (1495-1508)




Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks, the version that is displayed in London’s National Gallery, is one of those paintings that do not seize your notice at first blush, but- once you stare at them long enough- seep into your consciousness by degrees, engendering in you a peculiar sensation that no other sort can possibly surpass. In the painting, the divine figures are huddled together against a rocky background. Virgin Mary, situates in the centre of the pyramidal ensemble, raises a hand above the head of the Child and stretches another to pull in slightly Saint John the Baptist, who is in the painting also an infant. It is this assertion of authority that is proper to all exemplary parents- a combination of grace and supremacy- that left in me an indelible mark, evoking the exact sort of persona I’m always aspiring to become- not just as a mother but a distinct character that I’d like be remembered by- in the near, possible future. “A practice of the power of gentleness” is my summation for the painting- with conscientious effort and reasonable ability, prowess is attainable; to enter into the realm of the truly powerful one is required first to master the art of poise and patience- the two qualities that are often regarded the decisive factors of one’s success or fall- and ultimately one is metamorphosed into a tree, with a void in its core or sometimes a stone. The few of them who sustain all manner of pain and trials- whilst still abiding by the dictates of their admirable virtues- throughout a prolonged period of suffering might ascend finally to the stage of the divine. All mothers are in the league of the divinity.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Honore Daumier

“If you shut up truth and bury it under ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”- Émile Zola
Exited Honoré Victorin Daumier, 10 February 1879, in an impoverishment that many of his contemporaries, especially his foes, would have thought was his long overdue retribution- the painter was blind, heavily in debt, and later relegated to a pauper’s grave. His friends, upon visiting his resting place, would, I imagine, see it a chance to admonish their children: “Now that’s a lesson for you cheeky devils whose tongues rattle off things that should better stay unspoken.” But Daumier devoted his life in revealing those “unspoken things.” His lithography ink proved sharper than most writers’ pens. He vented his rage and stigmatised others’ infamy in his satirical and, oftentimes, side-splitting cartoons. The tone was relentlessly acerbic but only because Daumier was exposing truths that, in the time…

Review: Gaslight (1944)

Despite its varied forms or narratives, all Gothic fictions revolve on a fundamental contrast: that between the tenuous comfort of an isolated self and the dangerous fascination of an intrusive otherness. The Victorian is an age characterised by its obsession with the supernatural – poised on the verge of modernity, with scientific advancements like Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species inspired missions to unlock the myths of the natural world, people began to take notice of what lay outside their limited knowledge of things, of anything that is external to the closed domain of humanity. This curiosity for the unknown provoked an appraisal for the known – the immutable social system was revealed as hostile to the cultivation of individual minds, and time-honoured ethics such as that dictating a woman’s role in a traditional domesticity a menace to the preservation of personal integrity.
The negotiation between the old and the new, the internal and the external, is the dominant theme of V…

Review: Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)

Every adversity in life is a test of one's fortitude, the occasion of which, as proved invariably in the past, man is capable of defying destiny, of reversing the inexorable course to which life is doomed to tend. Too often we sympathise with the travails of the dogged, indefatigable fighter, whose hard-on victory we shed tears of relief and admiration, and whose stories and examples we evoke when in need of a boost of morale or motivation, that our notion of heroism has come to be hallowed with a glow of divinity peculiar to those who triumph in their fights. Those who fail – the martyrs who labour for nothing, who die without fulfilling what they die for – they are regarded with no less sympathy, but to recount their stories we averse, refusing to be reminded of what ultimately makes us humans – our inherent and infinite capacity to fail.
To face up to one’s failures, especially with the forlorn hope that such failures can ever be remedied, requires a special kind of courage. Wil…