Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Allegory of Love I-IV -- Paolo Veronese

See the pictures: Allegory of Love I; Allegory of Love II; Allegory of Love III; Allegory of Love IV.

When I saw the men struggling across the street with the pictures, my heart sank and I felt the floor swooping up to meet me.

I was on my bed when I came to. The curtains were drawn around the foot and one side. On the other side were Maria fanning my face, and my husband hovering nearby. ‘There, my dear, you’re with us again. It must be the heat, or the excitement, or…’

I turned my face to the pillow so as not to hear the rest.

‘She is overcome, master,’ said Maria. ‘It’s excitement at the gift you have brought her.’

‘Let’s draw back the curtain so she can see. Ready Maria?’

Light flooded on to the bed and I forced myself to look. Surely Ercole wasn’t going to hang such pictures in our chamber… how could he be so cruel?

I took in the four pictures. ‘Where are they to go? There’s no space in here.’

‘On the ceiling in the hall. The men have brought them up here to be safe before they hang them tomorrow. Aren’t they beautiful?’ He caressed the first painting – it shows Ercole wooing me even as I am adoring Paolo. How can he not see?

‘It’s called Allegory of Love. My darling, I am going to make this house a temple to my love for you.’

‘Oh Ercole.’ If he knew, he would cast me aside.

Paolo has painted the story of my marriage. The first picture shows Ercole stealing me from him. How can he be so cruel to me? He knew I had no choice, that Ercole was who I must marry and that I was as a twig in a flooded river.

The second picture has me scorning Ercole – Paolo has even shown Maria. But I never scorned Ercole – I did as I was asked by my family. I left Paolo and allowed Ercole to woo me. I was cold at first, naturally, for it is hard for a lady to overcome her natural modesty. How cruelly Cupid beats Ercole! He might just as well be whipping me.

The third picture shows Ercole coming across me asleep and although spurred on by Cupid, he refuses to take advantage. That’s a lie also. Ercole stole several nights before the wedding. How can Paolo be so wicked? He has even shown the bed curtains of my own room. Ercole will see them and guess that Paolo was there.

The last picture shows the joyful union. We are bound in golden chains by Cupid and blessed by Venus. Ercole’s faithful dog Tray stands by. But if it’s so joyful, why does Venus look so grim? She knows my secret, and soon Ercole will too.

1 comment:

tristan said...

oh thanx, that is so good !

i'll be popping in to the national gallery this weekend just to check out the pictures you have enlivened