1/12/2009

Portrait of the week - The dream of the nun

This historical painting is called The dream of the nun, painted by Karl Brulloff in 1831.

This highly idealized picture shows a young nun fast asleep and the mother superior checking in on her. She really ought to, because the girl is dream of a romantic love between her and some fair young man. Hardly suitable for a girl with a religious calling.

To distinguish what time it is that the picture is trying to convey is actually quite hard. The girl in the dream is wearing clothes and a hair-do that could suit the time the picture was done - but the man is less so. This is not the place do discuss male clothing, but let us just note that no man (perhaps except on the stage) would wear something like that man has put on.

But historical paintings were rally popular in the 19th century, and many times the artists knew very little about how things looked like in the era they portrayed and had to guess, imagine and use what they saw in their own time to make something that could pass for correct. After all, the buyers and viewers seldom knew more about it.

The painting is currently owned by the Russian museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I am trying to find the source of a French drawing entitled "Reve de Nunne" (The dream of a nun), which depicts a nun lying in bed with Christ in front of a stained glass window. There is handwritten text in French that appears above the nun's head and to the right of Christ. Christ is depicted with a halo around his penis. I have a copy of the book plate but have not been able to find the original source. I need the information for my doctoral dissertation, which is about the mystical experience of medieval women.
Thanks, Allison