Monday, August 29, 2011

Fainting in the Gallery

Surrender of Breda (1634),  Diego Velazquez

. . . she dressed very carefully before going to see Toulouse Lautrec, more so than when she went to see Caravaggio. She chose a navy suit with a nehru collar and a pencil skirt. She wanted the light of Lautrec to be undisturbed by her presence. She had worn her hair down for Caravaggio, and wondered if that hadn't been unseemly and presumptuous? She pulled her hair back tight this morning and secured it with a pair of French knitting needles, black lacquer with pink roses - the only bit of color that would she would add to the gallery. There was no hesitation regarding the shoes - the high navy suede pumps made her feel somewhat acrobatic, on toe, like a Lautrec dancer.

she walked in the rain to the museum . . . and the street smelled of tangerines, it was almost September, a late summer flower? she wondered

it was so early that the gallery guards were still drinking coffee and this made them more human than usual. Afternoons brought out the sentry in them, as though she might steal a painting right off the wall, right in front of them.

she was quite fine until she came to the sketch In the Circus, Work with the Saddle - the lines of the dapple grey so round, so immensely plump beneath the girl encased in a black leotard, her toe pointed toward the trainer with the whip. What was he saying to her? It was all so innocent in appearance, but when she leaned closer to the sketch something took her breath and made her heart begin to beat rapidly, the walls of the gallery began to fall, the man was whispering terrible things to the woman on the horse, and she couldn't stop him. Her cheek tingled, her hands made of tissue paper. she remembered feeling this way only once before, at the foot of Valasquez' Surrender of Breda, but she recovered - this, this was too much for her to bear, the man with the whip wouldn't cease, and his words took her into the black . . .

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