Friday, October 20, 2006

Mourning and Melancholia


Isn't this painting fantastic? You can click it to enlarge. It was painted by Holbein the younger and it features his wife and two kids. I find it incredibly sad. I first found it on the cover of Julia Kristeva's Black Sun. It looks like an excellent book though my zero knowledge of Lacan and psychoanalysis in general means that I am not going to understand most of the stuff in it. The painting captures Freud's idea of the loss of "maternal object" resulting in mourning and melancholia very well.

Another famous Holbein painting is the image of the body of dead Christ. Incidentally I first came across it on the cover of the OUP edition of Dostoevsky's The Idiot. And Kristeva's book has chapters on Dostoevsky and Holbein too.

6 comments:

bhupinder said...

Thanks. Wonderful painting. One of my favourite on this theme is Paul Gauguin's The Melancholy Woman

Alok said...

That was beautiful. Thanks!

There is also Durer's Melancholia just in case. A good reminder of why people shouldn't spend too much time with books :)

jyothsnay said...

Compelling,indeed!
How true,"Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad” as quoted by Hugo. I am impressed with the indefinable sadness and that limbo kind of space around their eyes...the thinness of veil on her forehead seemed heavy, and those shades of distortion hovering over that little baby's mouth

Alok said...

What I find specially sad, even disturbing, is the expression on those babies' faces. They are not really crying and the sadness is somewhere inside, as if they know something that they should not or something that is far beyond their age. It is quite unreal in a way because children never have such expression on their faces. that's why I mentioned Freud and his theory of infantile attachment.

Madhur said...

infinite sadness, and so well put alok, one of my fav painters is edvard munch, and apart frm his famous 'scream', and to an extent 'despair', this one does it for me.
http://paintstory.com/pic/munch6.jpg , not melancholy but, life as opposed to death.

Alok said...

Ah yes, Munch was a great modern painter of despair.

do you know about this documentary/fiction film on Munch? I haven't seen it but it is considered to be a masterpiece.