The Thinking 
Housewife
 

The Things Paint Says, cont.

November 30, 2017

ALAN writes:

Regarding the painting Breaking Home Ties (discussed here):

You would have to be brain-dead not to be moved by the scene in the painting. I do not like the clumsy inner/outer metaphor, so I will suggest that such paintings do not take us out of ourselves but (to use that metaphor reluctantly) deeper into ourselves. They impel us to realize that what we have known in our lives is repeated in the lives of “others far away at a distant time,” as depicted expertly in this painting. It is a reminder of how much we have in common with those others, and they with us.

The family seated and standing around a table, the mantel, the cabinet, the coffee cups on the table, the mother’s apron, the boy now taller than her, the orderliness of the home—all those features were there in my own life. In the painting, they are acute and painful reminders of what once was but is no more, of a family’s integrity, of gladness and sadness, of loyalty and loss. They are, as you say, the most important things in life.

My grandmother seated at a table in 1956 with Homer Laughlin coffee cups, the uncles standing and talking in the background at so many family getherings, the mantel-place upon which rested my mother’s Christmas candles and figurines, the sadness in the act of parting, sometimes spoken but often left unspoken, a snapshot from 1970 in which I had become taller than my mother—I see all these things in that painting. Such paintings add to our knowledge and appreciation of what we have or once had.

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