Interior with a Lady

Interior with a Lady by Wilhelm Hammershoi
1901 Oil on canvas

I'm feeling melancholy today, and I have nothing at all to complain about which only makes it worse. So, I started writing in my little journal about all the things that have ever made me happy, all in a futile attempt to get back that feeling without doing any of the work to deserve it.

One of those happy memories involves the painting above. A few years ago, Rich and I spent a lovely afternoon at the DIA, and we noticed this fantastic piece tucked in a corner of the European Masters room. It looked bereft and humble, almost as if it was embarrassed to be sharing space with the Rembrandts and Renoirs. It seemed to know that hundreds of people passed it daily, perhaps giving is a passing glance but never their full attention.

We must have spent a half-hour staring at that painting, and the rest of the afternoon talking about how much we loved it. I'm sure I spent ten minutes alone discussing the dirt and scuff marks on the bottom of that interior door and how lifelike it was in its dereliction. Rich was impressed with the paintings within the painting, and they way the light from the window lit upon the cold, hard floor infusing a drab and depressing existence with its only source of life.

About a year later, Rich sent me this article about Michael Palin's 20-year obsession with Hammershoi; accompanying the article was our painting. We both laughed, blaming our 20-year obsession with Monty Python for somehow leading us to give a lonely painting a second glance.

This summer, Rich and I went back to the DIA and discovered that Hammershoi was a victim of the DIA's ongoing renovation project and ever-shrinking European collection. It's been relegated to wherever it is that art goes to die. Inexplicably, this is still taking up valuable wall space. I'll take Danish realism over ironic pop-solipsism any day.

More melancholy: The Magnetic Fields - All My Little Words


annamaria at 6:30 PM

2 spoke


at Thursday, November 16, 2006 10:08:00 AM Blogger Dane meets Simone said...

I love melancholy.

at Thursday, November 16, 2006 10:58:00 AM Blogger Wake of the Flood said...

Great painting. And glad to see you back. I started just dropping in weekly or so since there'd been nothing since the early Sept post. So I missed your election gloating/ranting til now.

As for moving to Vermont, unless you want to live hand to mouth or have an independent means of support, give up the dream. Vermont can elect Bernie Sanders because of 2 things: 1) the state is so small and has so few people that their senators are more like their congressional representatives (a la Wyoming and Montana) and 2) the state is one of those that has the biggest gap between haves and have nots. About the only jobs in VT are working for the government (the major employer in ALL New England states) or serving the tourists and folks with second homes or those who've retired to the country. The farms are alive, but not much of a source of employment, and the mills have all but disappeared.

It's interesting to note that this state that has such a reputation for being progressive and liberal has a nasty little secret. It's pretty much a lily white state, but still manages to establish an ethnic scapegoat. As one Vermonter put it to me, "Down there you've got your blacks and Ricans, up here we've got our gorfs. They're just as bad - can't speak the language, don't work, and stink. They just lie around all day drinking and making babies." So much for progress. Oh, what's a gorf you ask - it's frog spelled backwards. French Canadians.


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