Sunday, January 26, 2014

Portal 4

Portal 4: Vizzola Ticino (10 July 2005)
(For other works in my Portal series, click here.)

On scenes of solitary windows as a motif:
"No figures are present to lend thematic interest to the scene. Properly speaking, these pictures cannot be considered as genre paintings at all ... . The pure window-view is a romantic innovation--neither landscape, nor interior, but a curious combination of both. It brings the confinement of an interior into the most immediate contrast with an immensity of space outside, outdoors, a space which need not be a landscape, but can be a view of houses or of the empty sky. It often places the beholder so close to the window that little more than an enclosing frame of darkness remains of the interior, but this is sufficient to maintain the suggestion of a separation between him and the world outside. He is actually put in the position of the 'figure at the window.' The situation closely resembles a favorite theme in [Romanticism]: the poet at the window surveys a distant landscape and is troubled by a desire to escape from his narrow existence into the world spread out before him. ... The window is like a threshold and at the same time a barrier. Through it, nature, the world, the active life beckon, but the artist remains imprisoned, not unpleasantly, in domestic snugness. The window image thus illustrates perfectly the themes of frustrated longing, of lust for travel or escape which run through [Romanticism]."

-- from Lorenz Eitner, "The Open Window and the Storm-Tossed Boat: An Essay in the Iconography of Romanticism," The Art Bulletin (December 1955), pp. 285-86.

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