After a portrait of Madame Recamier by Jacques-Louis David, 1800
Looking at us through the prism of her own interiority, the almond-sliver of her face alert, intelligent, she has the rich interior, what Freud tried to elicit from his patients years later, cluttering his studio like an archeological dig of the subconscious, as though each silver-inlaid lockbox, each medallion, each figurine, sword, might correspond to an inner trope, buried deep in the womb of the mind. The mind, he knew, could be mapped, like the world with its intoxicating scents, ships sailing always for the east, one hand fingering the fringe of occidental drape where a patient reclines, her subconscious rising like beaded oil to the surface. But here in the painting, this woman needs none of it, and although the painter has elongated her into an elegance the body rarely possesses, she glances at us only briefly, before turning back the blank wall. What a simple set he's devised for his model! The only props: a daybed to echo the curvature of spine, two cushions, one a faded silk-blue, the other mustard-seed, and an oil lamp to suggest the Far East, but otherwise the room is bare; this is no harem, this is not the artist's private thrill. No, here we have a woman whose mind is untouchable pure and clear agate, the top layers luminous, the understrata seen to none but her. When the aura of theater lights fills her mind and she feels the heat-flutter of bodies move across her stage, she needs nothing and no one from this world where men ask women to sit for them in fantasy, and she makes of that interiority this vibrancy--figures slipping down hallways to smaller and smaller rooms, and beyond the corridors opening onto miniature bricked pathways, beyond the swinging bridges, beyond porticoes and creaking porch steps, her self is a filament of sunlight on a splintered oak table where a vase of tulips glistens by a curtain's raveled hem.
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|Date:||Sep 22, 2012|
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