Sweet Dreams

Daniela was here this weekend and on Saturday we took a walk downtown, ending up at a curious little exhibition of some of the master- works of Banco Santander's collection. (Remember, that's the bank that just bought up Sovereign. Santander was much less invested in subprimes than most commercial banks and is in growth mode; they bought an English bank a couple of weeks ago.) The highlight of this exhibit for me, without any doubt, was a large portrait by Zurbaran, Virgin Child Sleeping (Niña Virgen dormida). In commenting on my visit to Seville's fine arts museum a few weeks ago, I wrote that Zurbaran's Virgins were not as natural as Murillo's. Well, here's the exception. I don't recall having ever seen this particular painting before. What a treat! I can't imagine a better capturing of that ineffable moment when we doze off! The little girl's right eye is completely shut, but her left eye shows just the slightest slit of openness, suggesting a minimal connection to the world of consciousness inhabited by the viewer. The reproduction here is a pale shadow of the original, which has been wonderfully restored. The colors are vibrant, the detail of the flowers in the vase startling (the rose, love; the lilly, purity; the carnation, fidelity). All the light emanates from the girl's forehead, to me suggesting the power and attraction of her sweet dreams. Her own future? I think she's dreaming of rocketing skywards, of joining those silly angel faces that hover above her. Good books do that! Above all, the painting captures a really cute face. A neighborhood girl, someone you'd be happy to have your daughters play with. This kid's life is placid, she's got a good book to read, and no worries. She's a dreamer with a rich imagination. (Could that explain something...?) Anyway, it was a fun little visit. Later, Asun prepared us a nice roast chicken for lunch and afterwards Daniela got to spend some time with a classmate from years ago who she's stayed in touch with.

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