The Duchess of Alba

The Duchess of Alba

That’s how they were then.
They’ll never be that way again.
These portraits on the walls.
They were real people.
The Duchess of Alba by Goya.
She was real.
She is gone but her portrait remains.
We cannot get back there.
Locked in our time, as she was locked in her time,
we are ruled by the pendulum.
But we can be still.
Attend to now.
Forget our life and time.
Consider the brush work on canvas,
colour, shadow, light and line.
European aristocrats.
Think of them.
When not posing for portraits
by painters like Goya, what did they do?
It seems they hunted, rode, travelled,
had children, wore jewels, entertained,
followed fashion, feared revolution,
looked after their estates.
Painters and poets have this in common,
thought Goya, when they study nature,
they seek for its essence.
In those who posed for him,
he sought for the lamp lit within,
that animated character,
sculptured spirit and skin,
and if he found none,
that must be captured, too,
the void must be faced.

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