Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ophelia or La Jeune Martyre

La Jeune Martyre, Paul Delaroche, 1855, Louvre, Paris

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts.
There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you
some violets, but they withered all when my father
died: they say he made a good end
[William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Atto IV, Scena V]

Many people mistake Delaroche's La Jeune Martyre for Ophelia; however Delaroche was a history painter and this is a depiction of the young female Christian Martyr in the 3rd CE.  Historical paintings of Delaroche's time include but are not limited to biblical histories.  The  most obvious give away this is not Ophelia is the bound hands as Ophelia took her life and La Jeune Martyre had her life taken.  As I stood in front of this awe inspiring painting in the Louvre I wanted to jump through the canvas and save her. She looked as if she had just succumb to the water and there was time to save her life.  Every aspect of the paint, light, coloration, reflections, and shadow captivates the viewer and draws them into the scene unfolding before them.  Although the martyrs eyes are closed I felt as if she was looking at the viewer still, but not in a desperate request for saving, rather in a resolve of peace with what has happened.  It is quite powerful.

No comments:

Post a Comment