Do you ever find yourself in a museum, looking but not seeing?
This happened to me recently on my three-day retreat in the Metropolitan Museum. On my second morning, I was wandering from gallery to gallery, and I couldn’t quite register what I was seeing. I was so inundated with beauty that it was all blurring together.
That’s when I decided to go on a photo safari, a trick in my museum toolbox that helps me look at objects more closely. You simply pick a theme and focus on details found in artworks around that theme, with the aim of looking at everything differently.
As I was wondering what theme to chose, I suddenly turned a corner and saw her.
Staring at me was Marie Françoise de La Cropte de St. Abre, Marquise d'Argence (painted by Jean Marc Nattier in 1744). But to me, she was the Queen of Bows. I was literally stopped in my tracks by her enormous and glorious bow.
I slowly turned around and saw that I surrounded by 18th and 19th century French paintings, filled with depictions of fancy and fabulous bows. I stuck my nose in the canvases to examine the ladies’ (and gentlemen’s!) elegant bows, planted on their bodices, bonnets, sleeves, coiffures, and even shoes. What a wide variety of ribbons and bows!
And so I present Bows, as found in French paintings:
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