Sunday, August 22, 2010

One of my favorites

Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to her Children as Her Treasures, Angelica Kauffman, circa 1785

This is a painting I learned about way back in my senior year of high school... it is still one of my favorites.

The woman in red is showing the woman standing in white (Cornelia) all of the things her husband has brought back for her from his worldly travels...pearls, rings, necklaces, etc. After she is finished bragging about how many treasures she owns she turns to Cornelia and asks her, "So what treasures to you have?"

Cornelia replies by asking for her children to come to her and says, "Here are my treasures." Cornelia is pointing out the foolishness and vanity of the materialism of this woman by showing what really matters, her children.

The red the woman is wearing symbolizes passion, while the white that Cornelia wears symbolizes purity. Cornelia's daughter is between the two women and is fascinated by the sparkle of the things the foolish woman is showing as she picks up a piece of jewelry. The daughter is innocent and pure because she is a child, however her young age also causes her to be also attracted to things that shine. She does not yet have the wisdom to see value beyond materialistic things. Because the daughter is innocent and simultaneously attracted to beautiful objects, she is wearing a dress that is pink: mixing the red of passion and the white of innocence.

Interesting, huh? That's why I love art history.


  1. Have you ever read the poem, "The Girl I Used to Be"? It is a poem about the girl of this woman's past comes and asks her what happened to her career, mansion, money and so on...

    "And as she spoke I was very sad for I wanted her pleased with me.
    This slender girl from my shadowy past, the girl I used to be.
    So gently rising I took her hand and guided her up the stairs.
    Where peacefully sleeping my babies lay innocent sweet and fair.
    I told her that these are my only gems and precious they are to me.
    The silken robes are my motherhood of costly simplicity.

    It ends when the girl from her past understands and is pleased with the woman she has become! I love that poem and it has meant a lot more to me now that I am a mom.

  2. Seriously love this one. I remember Ms. Hughes showing it to our class and I almost teared up. Cheesy but true.


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