By John Berger
In a unprecedented distillation of his presents as a novelist, poet, artwork critic, and social historian, John Berger unearths the binds among love and shortage, the methods poetry endows language with the peace of mind of prayer, and the tensions among the ahead circulation of sexuality.
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Regardless of the documentary conjectures may possibly let, the work make it transparent that the affection among Hendrickje and the painter lasted for roughly two decades, until eventually her loss of life, six years ahead of his. She used to be ten or twelve years more youthful than he. whilst she died she used to be, at the facts of the work, at the least forty-five, and whilst he first painted her she might under no circumstances were older than twenty-seven. Their daughter, Cornelia, was once baptized in 1654. which means Hendrickje gave beginning to their baby whilst she used to be in her mid-thirties. the girl in mattress (from Edinburgh) was once painted, through my reckoning, a bit sooner than or a bit after the delivery of Cornelia. The historians recommend that it can be a fraction taken from a bigger paintings representing the marriage evening of Sarah and Tobias. A biblical topic for Rembrandt was once continually modern. whether it is a fraction, it truly is convinced that Rembrandt complete it, and bequeathed it eventually to the spectator, as his so much intimate portray of the lady he enjoyed. There are different work of Hendrickje. prior to the Bathsheba within the Louvre, or the lady Bathing within the nationwide Gallery (London), i'm wordless. now not simply because their genius inhibits me, yet as the adventure from which they derive and which they express—desire experiencing itself as whatever as previous because the recognized international, tenderness experiencing itself because the finish of the area, the eyes’ unending rediscovery, as though for the 1st time, in their love of a well-known body—all this comes prior to and is going past phrases. No different work lead so deftly and powerfully to silence. but, in either, Hendrickje is absorbed in her personal activities. within the painter’s imaginative and prescient of her there's the best intimacy, yet there's no mutual intimacy among them. they're work which communicate of his love, no longer of hers. within the portray of the lady in mattress there's a complicity among the girl and the painter. This complicity comprises either reticence and abandon, day and evening. The curtain of the mattress, which Hendrickje lifts up together with her hand, marks the brink among daylight hours and evening. In years, by way of sunlight, Van Rijn may be declared bankrupt. Ten years prior to, via sunlight, Hendrickje got here to paintings in Van Rijn’s residence as a nurse for his child son. within the mild of Dutch seventeenth-century responsibility and Calvinism, the housekeeper and the painter have targeted and separate tasks. for this reason their reticence. At evening, they depart their century. A necklace hangs unfastened throughout her breasts, And among them lingers— but is it a lingering and never an incessant arrival? — the body spray of without end. A fragrance as previous as sleep, as usual to the residing as to the lifeless. Leaning ahead from her pillows, she lifts up the curtain with the again of her hand, for its palm, its face, is already welcoming, already creating a gesture that is preparatory to the act of touching his head. She has now not but slept. Her gaze follows him as he techniques. In her face the 2 of them are reunited. very unlikely now to split the 2 pictures: his photograph of her in mattress, as he recollects her: her picture of him as she sees him coming near near their mattress.