Thursday, 10 May 2012

Confessions of a Visual Illiterate - Two for the Price of One

When I lived in Vienna, I used to go and gawp at the big Brueghel canvases they have there. Like Michael Frayn, I always thought a novel could be made from imagining how on earth one in the seasons series could possibly have been lost. Unlike Michael Frayn, I never did anything about it.

Anyway, I hadn't absorbed the fact that the painting in the series that depicts summer is part of the collection at New York's Metropolitan Museum. And so it came as a wonderful surprise to walk into one of the rooms in the museum and see the painting:
I have to say one of the things I admire about the picture is what good value for money it offers. If I'd commissioned it, I'd have been thrilled, for there are dozens of pictures within this one frame - it's not a case of two for the price of one, but several, which I suppose makes Brueghel an early precursor of Tesco's or Walmart on some level, (although no, not really)

There is the picture of village life with games being played on the green:

There is the landscape with travellers trudging down its deep lanes:

 There are three scenes of harvesters at work in seas of ripe grain:

There is an orchard, complete with apple picker:
 There is a distant coastal town, with the faint outlines of ships, hinting at possibilities over the horizon:
 There is another peaceful glimpse of village life:

 And there is me, all those years ago, stuffing my face, as ever:


  1. Beautiful posting.

    Buy it, cut it up into those bits and sell them. Vast profit guaranteed. I'm not sure you'll get a buyer for the last one, but it would be lovely for your own loungeroom wall anyway.

    Or could I please have it?

    PS I can't help thinking it's a rather difficult way to eat a croissant, or else you're fibbing about your musical talent and can play the harmonica. The hat is a stroke of fashion genius. No matter what, it's altered forever my impression of what you look like... a sort of childlike innocence I'd never imagined before.

    1. My husband has always been very amused because he once heard a shop assistant say that I was very 'hattable', which is a comment that could be interpreted in a number of ways. I wish I had Norman Gunston's harmonica meistroship (as demonstrated by him to a bemused Frank Zappa)