When I first saw this picture, I was struck by several aspects of it. It’s called “Morning Star” and it was done by the Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha. I love this particular period in art history because it went back to the symbolism and representative nature of earlier periods, but it had a graceful style that reflected a changing society.
Interestingly, when I first became acquainted with Mucha’s work I was taken in by its rich textures and interesting movement. But oddly enough, I didn’t actually see the picture the way it is, I saw something else. If you notice the fabric that drapes over the woman’s left shoulder (her left, your right); well, when I first saw this, I thought she was holding a book.
Blame it on my age and eyesight, but seriously, I though she was reading. To me, in the context of the other elements of the picture, it made sense. The picture spoke of wisdom, of insight, and of knowledge gained through ones own efforts. The beams of light that shine from her head represented the literal light of knowledge. The growing light that starts on the lower right of the painting is the growing awareness of new information.
Okay, yes, I incorrectly interpreted the image. One of the beautiful things about art and literature is that it is open to interpretation, and that even if you don’t get it exactly the way the artist or author intended, if you get something meaningful from the consideration of the work, the work has served its purpose.
There are other Mucha paintings that I haveenjoyed over time. He has become one of my favorite artists, though his name is not as well known as others of his time period. Certainly Erte’ and Tiffany (both of whom began in the Art Nouveau period) are better known, but known more for their Art Deco work. But I’m drawn to Mucha, and to this picture in particular. It is most probably because I didn’t see it clearly the first time, because my deteriorating eyesight led to my misinterpretation.
Nonetheless, Mucha’s work, and this picture in particular, have become favorites of mine. In fact, I have a design idea based on this picture, and on my misinterpretation, that is the basis of the next (and final) tattoo that I want to get.
I’m in no rush to do it, but when I do, I’ll post pictures of it here.
Until then, I’ll just continue to enjoy and possibly misinterpret this, and other artists, and expanding my own attainment of knowledge.