Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (2019) ★★★★★

“See, the cruel Fates recall me,

and sleep hides my swimming eyes,

Farewell, now: I am taken,

wrapped round by vast night,

stretching out to you, alas,

hands no longer yours.”

Virgil Georgics (Bk IV, 453-527, ‘Orpheus and Eurydice’)
Translated by A. S. Kline
„Portrait of Mrs. Claude Leigh and Miss Virginia Leigh” Philip Alexius de Laszlo, 1933

The language of painting becomes an intimate cipher, allowing Marianne and Héloïse to surpass time and space, commemorating their love in the form of art. The first portrait Marianne painted was closely following the rules and conventions, creating a one-sided image; ultimately, it had to be destroyed. The second one, however, turned into an equitable collaboration, a heartfelt dialogue, which revived the real Héloïse, as Marianne gradually fathomed her out, scrupulously uncovering her lover’s intricate mask with an attentive, compassionate gaze. The final portrait – the work of another artist – contained the elements of both versions. While its composition mirrored thousands of similar works, radiating the nurturing motherly grace, a single element has managed to metamorphose it into a reassuring love letter addressed to Marianne.

„Orpheus and Eurydice” Edward Poynter, 1862 

The farewell scene, distressingly reminiscent of the aforementioned myth, Orpheus and Eurydice, has possibly derived its inspiration from Sarah Ruhl‘s play, told from the main heroine’s point of view. It was, after all, Eurydice who decided to let go. She chose to be a distant memory, letting the fire of her devotion to keep her warm in the numbing abode of Hades. Likewise, by saying “turn around” Héloïse has confessed her feelings to Marianne. Therefore, this irrevocable loss, instead of denouncing love, has once again proved its immortality.

„Orphée et Eurydice” Eduard Kasparides, 1896

It would be beyond one’s reach to unravel every single layer of riddles hidden in the depths of this cinematic canvas, as one stroke of paint indelibly covers another. This endless conundrum, after all, comprises the magnetism of art. Some feelings are deep and take time to be comprehended in their entirety. After all, if not for the preceding panoramic silence, the brilliance of the endmost Vivaldi concerto would not have the equivalently transcendent effect on the listener’s soul. It is the acute, impeccable contrast, the elaborate chiaroscuro, that turns the Portrait of a Lady on Fire into an all-encompassing, beautifully haunting experience, which will capture your heart forever.

Ne regrettez pas, souvenez-vous.

10 thoughts on “Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (2019) ★★★★★

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