It’s been a while. Most of my brain juice goes to art these days so, with that in mind, I thought it might be time for a throwback edition of Art History Sunday.
This painting is one of my favorites and I think of it often in my moments of self pity; “Blind Girl” by John Everett Millais. It’s utterly gorgeous. It’s unusually saturated in color (for that time, anyway). It’s a teenage girl – you can tell from the title she is blind. You can tell from her tatty clothes she is poor. You can tell from her rough-knuckled hands she has known long, hard days of work. A girl clings from the shelter inside her shawl for familial warmth- a sister? Perhaps her child? We don’t really know. But we can see they sit by the side of the road, likely just after a rain storm, and they are surrounded by jaw-dropping utter gorgeousness. But the blind girl cannot see any of it. The double rainbow, the cows in pasture, the birds in the field, the butterfly on her shoulder…she is deprived of them all. So what does she do? She lifts her head to feel the delicious warmth of the sun on her face. She runs the grass through her fingers to feel the slickness of each blade. She inhales the air to absorb the wonderful smells that only come after rain has passed. And for all her days, she plays songs on her accordion, perhaps not only to make a little money for herself and her ward, but to participate in something beautiful without the luxury of sight. She doesn’t need the world to deliver her something pretty to look at, Blind Girl makes her own kind of beauty: music. Art historians call this work an allegory of the senses, but I think of it as more of a love song to gratitude.
“The Blind Girl” by John Everett Millais, 1856, Birmingham Museum, UK.