Friday, August 25, 2006

Festival treats

This beautiful painting – the Virgin and Child by Botticelli – is what I really wanted to blog about last night, had I not been sidetracked by less artistic offerings. I went to see it while in Edinburgh – not a special Festival exhibit, but part of the permanent collection at the Scottish National Gallery. The painting was familiar to me from books and reproductions, but I’d never seen it “live”.

It’s a wonderful painting. There are other Virgins in other paintings on the walls around the gallery, but this one stands out for me because of the truth of the young woman's face. It is a face you could see today, above low-cut jeans and a crop-top, at once serene and wondering about this great mystery of which she is a part. The painting is almost transparent in places – the Virgin is just there, fleetingly, permanently alive.

I saw other great pieces too – The Three Graces, The Old Woman Cooking Eggs by Velasquez – another favourite. And I heard some wonderful music the night before – The Budapest Festival Orchestra playing Stravinsky’s Rite as well as Bartok’s 3rd Piano Concerto. The Usher Hall was packed and the atmosphere electric. I wouldn't have missed it.

But I’m really glad I saw the Botticelli.

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