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Friday, 27 February 2015

ANALYSIS OF A PORTRAIT


The Honourable Mrs. Graham, by Thomas Gainsborough.


Mrs. Graham, I often find myself wondering
how you came to be posing beside this stone pillar
with its enigmatic cameo, under the weight
of heavy gathering storm clouds that frown
upon the stately garden below
with its ancient evergreen trees and golden trailing ivy

that reaches for you like a would-be lover.
It seems that someone is forcing you
to choose between that love-struck beau
and the husband I assume you are gazing at: clearly,
for you, no novel choice - for you appear bored,
irritated even. So what secret are you hiding, fair lady:

how many have been driven insane by those dark eyes
and luminous skin so white?
They'll have duelled to the death to win you, I'm sure,
and will have offered you many a country seat
or even a palace or two. Yet there you stand,
stubborn, in your lavish carmine and silver gown:

a grandiose "belle of the ball" in momentary respite
from the tedious fending off of endless suitors...
So, please Thomas, tell me who commissioned you
to paint this society beauty - a proud husband?
Yet I see no wedding ring, so is she widowed?
Aah...now it begins to make sense...

Perhaps it is sadness that I mistook for boredom
in those huge dark eyes, and the husband
I believed you gazed at is no more than a fading memory.
On closer inspection you do seem far away, as if
trapped in a sad dream, with the dark clouds of grief
gathering around you, obliterating all traces of joy.

And the ivy could be reaching out to offer comfort
to a lonely widow. So Thomas Gainsborough
must have been recording your sorrow in that gloomy hour
that comes just before dawn, when everything in the garden
is disguised by graded shades of twilight
and your glorious luminosity is the only bright thing.

So, Honourable Mrs. Graham, is it a happier future you are hoping for
as Thomas paints you in your carmine and silver gown
beneath those gathering storm clouds
in that grand stately garden
beside the stone pillar
that boasts an enigmatic cameo?

33 comments:

  1. I loved the way you contrasted her dark eyes with her white skin. Beautiful poem.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. I have always found this painting fascinating, CiL...so I thought it would be fun to try to interpret it myself, before Googling it. Provided a couple of hours' great fun!:)
      Many thanks.

      Greetings from a sunny (for a change!) Hampshire!

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  2. That was so beautifully written my friend.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lon.
      Hope you are having a Great Day! :)

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  3. ha. what an interesting premise...coming up with a story to tell the story of the picture...hmmm...those gathering clouds are def ominous...the use of the orange in the storm and in the foundation of the pillar as well make me wonder if you are not correct...the face is a little pouty as well...i hope she has not lost hope...but surely she is trapped....

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    1. Yes...that sense of being trapped...is what intrigued me and set me thinking she must either be facing some kind of trauma...or else was utterly bored...and that touch of orange? Hopefully a glimmer at the end of the darkest night?!
      Many thanks, Brian.:)

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  4. Your wondering, as usual, so well expressed. To question the artist though, who I’m sure spent much of his time wondering too, as he prompted the beautiful model to show more excitement as the pose went on and on and on☺

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    1. I hadn't thought of that...such a detailed portrait must have taken quite some time to paint...so perhaps she was simply becoming bored...?
      I guess there are so many possibilities...and I find it incredibly fascinating to try to imagine which story it could be.
      Alas...we'll probably never know for sure...:/

      Many thanks, Anthony.:)

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  5. A lovely poem, Ygraine, beautifully written.

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  6. A lovely poem, Ygraine, beautifully written.

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda...so happy you liked it! :)
      xoxoxo

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  7. The beauty of a lady in the portrait is further glowed with your sizzling poetic descriptions. You are such an amazing poet, Ygraine.

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    1. Oh thank you, Dumcho...you are so kind.
      My imagination was running riot with this one! ;)

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  8. That was about perfect. Two interpretations that invite the kindness of the reader. You are remarkable.

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    1. Oh wow...that is such a compliment, Geo...thank you so much.
      I really appreciate that.:)

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  9. i echo Geo. You are remarkable. i love that you can get into anyone's mind throughout the Century and come up with dramatic, sad and lovely stories, hey you are the best dramatic writer,sensational !!!

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    1. I was so intrigued with this lady...the stories of her life could be endless...so in the end, I just let it tell itself through my imagination.
      I haven't Googled the painting yet...but I will shortly. It would be good to know the real story - if there is one!
      Thank you so much, Sweetie. That means so much...:)

      Big Hugs xxx

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  10. Excellent...great stuff.

    ...by the pillar, she can easily escape the storm to safety. ...she seemingly ponders letting herself and her heart go free, to chance the evergreens and storm clouds instead.

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    1. A brilliant interpretation...yes...I, too, get the impression that she longs to fly free...oh I so hope she finally found the courage to do so!

      Many thanks, Christopher.:)

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  11. this string of pearls
    swinging toward her feather
    garnet wine

    _m

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    1. Oh how you breathe life into this fabulous portrait!
      Amazing!!
      Many thanks, Magyar :)

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    2. Oooo I thank you, but you added that -breath- with your fine verse. __ I simply found the pearls and the feather, and that "garnet" jewel at her chest, and my imagination saw her... waiting for a glass of "wine." _m

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    3. Oh you are so kind...my heart-felt thanks:)
      And, yes, now I see her waiting for a glass of wine too...a rich claret! ;)

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  12. love this post- very inspired!:)

    I'd love it if you could also come check out my blog! Maybe we can follow each other? afashionneverland.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Caroline!
      It's great to hear from you...and thank you so much for visiting.:)

      I have checked out your blog too. It is amazing and I'd love to become a follower...but I have tried unsuccessfully. It won't accept my e-mail...so could you possibly advise me?
      Many thanks x

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  13. Olá, imagem perfeita acompanhada pela bela historia.
    AG

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    1. Hi AG...and thank you so much!

      Have a Wonderful Day:)

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  14. An amazing write from an amazing poet :)

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    1. Oh thank you, Keith...so much! :)

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  15. Very beautiful my friend! Truly beautiful!

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    1. So happy you liked this, Sweetie...and thank you so much! :)

      Big Hugs xoxoxo

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  16. What a gorgeous mind you have Ygraine! Beautifully imagined and wonderfully expressed. :)

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  17. Oh Rose...you are so kind.
    Thank you...so, so, much!
    xoxoxo

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I really appreciate hearing your opinions...:)