Monday, April 7, 2014

Compelling Faces in Art - Francesco Hayez, La Meditazione (L’Italia nel 1848).

Here we have calculated distribution of shadows on the face of a seductive semi-nude female. The success of this painting derives in large part from the virtuoso description of the flesh and of the fabrics. Annexed to it, is an inherent political message. Francesco Hayez’s La Meditazione (L’Italia nel 1848), is an allegorical composition that describes the Italian political situation during the uprisings of 1848. Hayez was personally very active politically, and in this painting perhaps we glimpse a profound bitterness. 

A face covered by a veil of shadow, the raven hair, the air and deep sorrow in the eyes, and the hands highlighting the weight of the large volume and cross, impart the "melancholy" of contemporary consciousness transformed into meditation. Italy is a woman humiliated. 

This work reminds me of the sixth canto of Dante's Purgatorio: "Servile Italy, grief hostel ship without a pilot in great tempest woman not of Provinces, but brothel!" 

Which also reminds me of what Graham Greene said in The End of the Affair: “The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”

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