January 08, 2009

A Renaissance Face

© Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome

This arresting portrait of Agatha van Schoonhoven by Jan van Scorel made me think that we could do with a few Renaissance women in our time. She was idealised, of course, in paintings, poetry and music but her essence is worth recapturing.

It was thought during that cultural movement that outer beauty reflected inward virtue. Our society is predominantly obsessed with the former, the latter just an added bonus. Beauty will get you far, very far indeed; if you have a brain, well, that's nice dear...The possible marriage of both, an exquisite face and a cultivated mind, seems not even worth contemplating. And yet we know that one quality does not exclude the other. Indeed, there are numerous examples in our age, if we allow ourselves to look beyond the polished covers of magazines, airbrushed adverts and stereotypes.

Let your concept of beauty, accomplishment and virtue be challenged by the 'ideal' Renaissance women. See the excellent Renaissance Faces exhibition at the National Gallery. And if you think you lack in outward beauty, remember Elizabeth I who said:

'The face, I grant, I might well blush to offer, but the mind I shall never be ashamed to present'.


At 1/10/2009 04:46:00 AM , Blogger Molly said...

Beautifully stated, Rebecca. I could not agree more wholeheartedly, and it is my desire to synthesize the two kinds of beauty in my own life.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home