Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Étienne Liotard

Before we even got to the museum in Dresden, my mom wouldn't stop talking about this pastel. I was 18 years old, fresh from graduating high school and my eyes were opening greatly as my mom took me to europe for my graduation present. Germany was our last stop and the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, in Dresden was a museum I was excited to see. I was kind of disappointed in Dresden. There was so much construction, so many tourists, and everything was so dark and gloomy (reminisces of WWII). With its assortment of famous paintings like, GiorgioneSleeping Venus", Johannes Vermeer “Girl reading a Letter at an Open Window”, and the star of century RaphaelSistine Madonna” my mom passed by all of those to go see her favorite painting. She told me that the first time she ever saw it she cried because it was so beautiful. So with my expectation, and her explanation, I assumed this was going to be a huge, intricate, painting that was stuffed to the brim with naked women, cherubs, clouds....the whole shabang. To my surprise, we walked into the gallery and there it was. Grabbing my hand my mom rushed me to the front and sighed with joy. There is was, a little canvas with a picture of a swiss servant girl serving chocolate. It was beautiful. The glass of water was so detailed, the pink of her bonnet was so vibrant, and her hands were amazingly elegant. I knew why this was my moms favorite painting. She said because it was "so cute" but I knew it was because she had once been in that position, of working for someone being a servant, a maid, a waitress, and here in one of the most famous museums in the world was a painting from the 18th centruy about someone with such a "low" job.

After seeing this painting, I also saw my mom in a different light. Someone who did care about art. Someone who did understand its importance in the world. She could be as stubborn as ever and not support me getting an art degree, but I will always remember the effect a PAINTING had on her. An effect I have never seen done by a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.

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