Beautiful Books

Wise Women: A Celebration of Their Insights, Courage and Beauty by Joyce Tenneson

Books are beautiful on so many different levels.  Several years ago I found the book, Illuminations by Joyce Tenneson.  Her photography impacted me in such a way that I couldn’t help but remember an earlier connection in university with the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  Of the most well-known canvases produced by this group, the painting that most resonated for me was Ophelia by John Everet Millais.

Ophelia: Millais 1851-52

About Ophelia, on Tuesday, July 17, 2007, I wrote in my journals,

I woke feeling somewhat apprehensive about the planned train ride into Waterloo Station, but in the end, my daughter had left me such wonderful directions that I had no problems at all.  I walked to Watford Station and headed out on the Metropolitan Line.  I made a transfer at Finchely Road Station to the Jubilee Line and made it to Waterloo Station in good time.

I met my friend Robert by a Bronze sculpture of the artist, Terence Cuneo,  just above the Eurostar Station.  Image shared by blogger, Inspiration Station.

Terence Cuneo: Waterloo Station


It was good to see him as he’s been traveling extensively the past couple of years, most recently through Ireland and Scotland.  We agreed that we would go in search of Ophelia since she was one of the primary reasons I wanted to visit London again.  She had been away and traveling herself, during my last visit.

First stop was Trafalgar Square.  We took our time enjoying the space, the weather and the people.  We met a falconer with his Harris Hawk named Nina.  He explained that Nina’s presence minimized the population of pigeons.

Our visit to the National Art Gallery was fantastic and from there we headed directly for Big Ben and beyond equal distance to the Tate Britain.  We made a decision to head directly for the Pre-Raphaelite paintings.  These are displayed routinely in two rooms at the Tate and their beauty is pretty much impossible to capture here in writing, but very much alive and in full colour in my mind’s eye.  I sat back on a bench in the center of the second room and completely engaged the Ophelia painting.  Every so often, I would step up to her and analyse the detail, the luminosity and the handling of paint throughout the piece.  Meticulously rendered, the face and hands emerging from the water were beautiful gestures captured by Millais.

Robert and I spoke for some time while standing in front of the woman in the blue velvet dress and I was filled with amazement as I studied the painting of Peter washing the feet of Jesus.

I then continued on in my search for Lucien Freud’s nude figures (amazing!), a revisit to Francis Bacon’s work and time spent before a Calder mobile.  When we left the gallery, a stop was made to pick up a Take Away salad and lemonade and we found a beautiful staircase where we sat to eat our lunch.  It had been a magical morning!

In the first Joyce Tenneson book that I purchased, Illuminations, there was a softness at the same time as a huge strength in the figurative compositions.  If you have read Carl Jung, you would also feel a strong sense of the archetypal influences within the work.  I don’t know if this is so; I am just supposing.  There is most definitely an other-worldly sensibility about the figures.

Earlier I posted my image of another beautiful book that I own, Wise Women by the same photographer.  When I spend time with this book, I am reminded of how beautiful we become as we age.  Wisdom radiates somehow.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Now…here is my friend…a wise woman!


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