Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another mysterious painting...

Big day at the Museum of Fine Arts today, fun but shocking.  As usual I went to visit my little Rembrandt painting and's been moved.  AH.  Be still my heart, I know it will pop up somewhere else and there's tons of stuff to see, like the one above.  It is another compelling and mysterious painting - Gerard ter Borch's "Man on Horseback".   I couldn't find nearly as much written about this as there was about El Perro, by Goya.  But then again Goya was far more famous than Borch. There is a cheesy Boston Globe blurb that reckons this with the Marlborough Man, ugh.  Another article from the UK I found on-line basically just describes what we already see but offers interesting comments about not seeing the face, hence not being able to read the emotions. However, I pick up a lot of emotion from the soldiers' demeanor and the ease of the horse, most of which feels like tiredness or weariness: the soldier is relaxed or even a tad slumped and the horse is not galloping, it's doing an easy plodding gate perhaps they are coming back from something that has spent them completely. Or after digging into history a bit maybe they are riding, hesitantly, towards something very difficult. I think the key to understanding this work is that it was painted in 1634. That was the year that the great Battle of Nördlingen took place in Germany and was part of the Thirty Year War. The soldier is bent a little, but he's not muddy or bloody from battle which made me think he's going toward the conflict. The light is ambiguous, it could be late afternoon which would imply he's riding home or back to camp.  Then again it looks like daybreak which could mean he's riding to battle.  Every time I see it I read it differently and as always the true meaning lies with the artist and it is up to us - the viewer -  to bring our own meaning to it.  Even though I couldn't visit Rembrandt's Studio today it means I got to spend more time with this and as usual I came away with more questions.  

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