Sunday, July 13, 2014


GERARD ter BORCH, 1650

"I ask myself: why precisely in this country are a great-grandmother’s bonnets, a cradle, a great-grandfather’s frock coat made from Scottish wool, and a spinning wheel preserved with special care, an almost religious attention? The attachment to things was so great that pictures and portraits of objects were commissioned as if to confirm their existence and prolong their lives."

"The good reputation of Dutch painters secured invitations to foreign courts, so Godfried Schalcken, Adriaen van der Werff, and Eglon van der Neer, for example, spent years in the service of the Prince Elector in Düsseldorf. But the great ones—Vermeer, Hals, Rembrandt—never traveled to the other side of the Alps, or even neighboring countries. They remained faithful to the trees, walls, clouds of their homeland, and to their native towns. What is stranger still, this provincialism by choice constituted their strength, and decided their posthumous triumph."

"[W]hat is nine o’clock if it does not mean sitting at the desk in an office, the noon hour without the stock exchange, four o’clock from which dinner is taken away, six o’clock without coffee and a pipe, eight o’clock deprived of all meaning because they have removed the table, supper, family, and friends. O holy ritual of everydayness, without you time is empty like a falsified inventory that corresponds to no real objects."

--From Still Life with a Bridle, in which "poet and essayist Zbigniew Herbert takes an intriguing look at the cultural, artistic, and aesthetic legacy of 17th-century Holland."

JAN LIEVENS, c. 1627


  1. Wow, that is beautiful. It seems that in the West so many of us are reduced to economic units -only good for what we can produce in the market with no intrinsic value.
    I've heard of Distributism (also Distributivism) as an economic system which mitigates against this and follows the medieval / Church practice or teaching on Subsidiary. But I don't know much about it.
    I do get a quarterly magazine called The Michael Journal out of Canada which proposes an alternative system to the US/British banking system which controls economic power though the Federal Reserve, the IMF, the World Bank etc. The system they propose says that people are created ultimately for leisure, not economic productivity. This does not mean we should not work: we must as the book of Genesis commands. Rather (these alternative systems say), we work to live. We do NOT live to work for only economic ends.
    If this type of thought was followed, there would be far fewer starving artists than there are, there would be more beauty in the world and, Fyodor's statement that beauty will change the world would be nearer to accomplishment of its God given goal and purpose!

  2. What I wrote wasn't exactly on topic, but it is interesting that the really great painters did not go to foreign courts for their funding (i.e. they were not state sponsored!).
    More on topic, there is nothing nicer, as a dad, than sitting down with my wife for tea or coffee and her saying "Let's not clean right now or worry about anything, let's just sit in the living room with the kids and be with them." These are often my closest moments to heaven


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