Sunday, 2 November 2014

Young Girl with Pomegranate

"Young Girl with Pomegranate", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

This week's drawing was inspired by a painting entitled, "Girl with a Pomegranate" by the French traditionalist artist, W-A. Bouguereau.  When I saw his painting, I immediately thought to myself: "this is how Our Lady might have looked as a young girl -- dressed for the ceremony that would betroth her to St. Joseph."  

I particularly liked the idea of her holding a pomegranate. Bouguereau probably used it because of its rich symbolism in classical works of art.  I wanted to use it in my drawing, however, because of its rich Jewish and Scriptural symbolism. Jewish tradition, for example, teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. As well, many Jewish scholars believe that the pomegranate was the “forbidden fruit” of the Garden of Eden which would make it the perfect fruit for Our Lady, the new Eve, to be holding.  

Now for a bit of information about the artist whose work, "Girl with a Pomegranate", inspired me... 
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female body.  

Bouguereau was born at La Rochelle, France in 1825, into a family of wine and olive oil merchants. When he showed artistic talent early on, his father was convinced by a client to send him to the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. Young Bouguereau found ways to earn money with his art and with this money plus some from his aunt, he was able to go to Paris and became a student at the École des Beaux-Arts. To supplement his formal training in drawing, he attended anatomical dissections and studied historical costumes and archaeology.  In 1856, he married Marie-Nelly Monchablon and subsequently had five children. 

Bouguereau self-portrait
During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honours and received top prices for his work. However, as the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Édouard Manet and Henri Matisse. 

By the early twentieth century, Bouguereau and his art begin to fall out of favour with the public, due, in part, to changing tastes although his paintings of goddesses, nymphs, bathers, shepherdesses and the Madonna continued to appeal to wealthy art patrons of the era. Interestingly, in the 1980s, a revival of interest in figure painting led to renewed interest in Bouguereau and his work.  
In 1905, William-Adolphe Bouguereau died from heart disease at his home in La Rochelle.  He was 79 years old. 

*Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.



Braden's little brother, Ronàn, arrived on October 31st. Both mother and baby are doing fine!

There are about 12 Irish saints with the name of Ronàn with the best known being St. Ronàn of Locronàn (also known as St. Ronàn the Silent).  The young Master Ronàn should be well looked after, indeed, by all these heavenly friends!

Also, his middle name is Declan so I am sure that St. Declan of Ardmore will be praying for him too.

Here are a couple of photos.  Rest assured that I will be sharing more photos of Ronàn (and Braden) in the days ahead. Now, please rejoice with me and give thanks for the gift of this new life.

Ronàn asleep in the hospital nursery

Braden with his new baby brother (Ronàn is being held by his grandmother)
I cropped this rather closely so please forgive the excessive graininess and 

blurring of the images.



If Suki had to go on a car ride...!

Something really strange has been going on this past week... every morning, this crazy cat, with whom I share my home, has been trying to get me to wake up and feed her at 4:30 instead of her usual 5:30!  As you can imagine, this has not been pleasant for either of us -- especially for me.

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why on earth Suki should suddenly start her wake-up procedure an hour earlier than usual. Then, last night, as I was setting all the clocks back an hour, the thought struck me:  "It's almost like Suki knew we were going back on "real" time instead of this artificial stuff called Daylight Savings Time!  So, you won't be surprised to learn that when Suki woke me up this morning, the clock read 5:30 once again!

How did Suki know?  What made her insist on setting the clocks back a week before the rest of Canada and the USA?  Truly, I find this very strange.  It makes me realize, even more clearly, that in spite of the fact that I think I am so knowledgeable about so many things, I really know so little and understand even less! 

Otherwise, things at my home continue much as usual.  The pain levels remain about the same and my pain management techniques continue to be fairly effective about 80% of the time -- especially the distraction technique.  By "distraction technique", I mean the few remaining things I am able to do that usually can absorb my attention so completely that I can enter into a space, for a period of time, where I am less aware of the pain. Such things include, especially, my art work as well as watching advertisement-free films or TV shows that really interest me and keep my attention.

I have discovered that pain management is really a full-time job. Thank goodness, I'm a retired person!  



"Icon, Mother of God of Magadan", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011 rev.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. John 12:23-26

"...unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies..."  This icon shows us what that grain of wheat looks like in the dying -- both in Christ's laying down of His life and in the Blessed Mother's gift of letting go of, not clinging to, her Son's life so that He might freely lay it down.  

For did not Christ also say:  "Greater love has no one than to lay down their life for another"?  
I seek not to be alarmed at the prospect of laying down my life for others through those small, daily sacrifices involved in putting others first for we are promised that if we but die to ourselves, we will share in a huge harvest -- a harvest of love -- that might, one day, cover the whole earth.

May this kind of love set us free so that peace may fill our hearts and minds today and always.  


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