Sunday, November 28, 2010

Synchronicity in distant dusty corners so very close to home

1960's era reproduction of the Portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan
by Thomas Gainsborough.
Click on image to enlarge
Yesterday, I stood before this very painting at the Cincinnati Art Museum. As I had posted recently, this portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Elizabeth Linley) was my favourite non Pre-Raphaelite painting of all time. While it was great to get the exhibition catalogue with a lovely reproduction of the painting on one of its pages what I really wanted was something I could hang on my studio wall. Also, I had been planning to go over to Patti Fairbanks' Antique Shop where I live in Paris, Kentucky to do a little Christmas shopping but since I was working on a painting today, I thought I might not go after all. As I worked, I just kept getting the feeling I should go to Fairbanks Antiques anyway so I took a break to let the sunlight work its way over to the studio and hopped in the car and set out for the antique shop. While there, I'd do the originally intended Christmas shopping.

Fairbanks Antiques is in a vastly expanded and better organised location that at one time had been a downtown Paris hardware store that Patti filled with everything from her previous separate locations. Patti and her sister Lee did a fantastic job organising all the books and more. I found a couple of gifts, so I decided I was going through every nook and cranny making two circuits of the shop. Hung on the wall in a crowded corner near the front of the store was the portrait of Mrs. Sheridan in a perfect size and in a frame that fits well with the studio. I can only imagine how wide my eyes must have been when I gently lifted the picture off its hook. Dusty but in good shape. I thought I should be taking the money for this and buying someone else a gift, but at the same time I was afraid I would never see this vintage reproduction ever again so I bought it along with the stocking stuffers I found for Valerie. As I had written before, various photocopies of this painting had been tacked on studio walls for years.

Yesterday, I felt sad that I couldn't come back and visit the original painting as often as I wanted because it wasn't part of the Cincinnati Art Museum permanent collection. The original painting has a very strong presence as though something of the soul of the subject resided in the painting. That's a quality I want my paintings to have and because I knew I would likely never see this painting again went back upstairs one more time with Valerie while a friend who travelled with us was perusing the gift shop to say goodbye to dear Mrs. Sheridan. Mrs. Sheridan looked a little sad too.

Is it just my deepening into middle age or are synchronicities on the increase? I've experienced some wonderful synchronicities in the last few years of which today's would both be minor and somewhat profound. Minor because (it's a probably 1960's) reproduction of a 1780's painting but profound because its a vintage reproduction of a painting that I literally stood in front of only 24 hours before. A painting that normally resides at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. A painting that I would gaze at in my copy of The World of Gainsborough and dreamed of seeing for real. What's next? Standing in front of John William Waterhouse's 1888 version of The Lady of Shalott? Sir Frank Dicksee's 1903 La Belle Dame Sans Merci ? I already have lovely prints of those paintings on my wall so if there is to be a synchronicity involving those works, it will have to come about another way....Something wonderful I hope....

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