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15 | Age & Beauty

Some Portraits Are Different From Others

Both children’s portraits and portraits of elderly people are usually perceived differently from other portraits. We all know those moments when we get  lost in contemplation of a child’s portrait and instantly feel the impulse to somehow protect the portrayed child or even all children. With portraits of elderly people something else happens.

Look at this portrait first – what do you see? – and then read on below.

Woman From India With Nose Ring
oil on canvas
50 x 70 cm
(reference photo by Anjan Gosh)

This Is What We See

There is not much else to see in this painting than the face of an elderly lady. She is looking straight at us. Her eyes seem to express a mixture of friendlyness and inner peace. Even though she appears very close, there is also a distance between her and us as her head resting in her palm indicates she does not intend to move any further.

Our attention is attracted both by her gaze and her nose piercings at the same time. We may feel a sense of insecurity therefore because we cannot keep up with her straightforward look. Or we may even take the nosering as an excuse to not being able to keep up. In any case, the nose ring signals a certain cultural affiliation.

This Is What We Conclude

Seeing an elderly lady like her often evokes a feeling of adoration in us. We don’t know her, but we see beauty in this face full of wrinkles. We do not know what this lady is thinking but it is hard to sense anything like sadness or despair in her face. So besides from beauty we tend to see a strong and proud woman who has had a rich life. At least this is what people have told me repeatedly after seeing this portrait painting.

This Is What You Can Learn From This

Whether this lady is proud and strong and had a rich life, we do not know actually. We certainly wish so. When you like this painting for exactly this reason, then you should ask yourself what you can learn from this. Do you wish that people will think like this about you when you will have reached her age? Will you be able to think like this about yourself? Will you still consider yourself beautiful when your face is covered in wrinkles? I surely hope you will be able to answer the last two questions with a clear yes.

This elderly lady is not a person with superpowers. She is a real human being with a real human life. It doesn’t matter where she lives. If you can see what you wish for yourself in her face, then you know what to look for within yourself, and you know where to go from now.

Available On Artsy

This painting is part of the Gosh Series and therefore also part of the Humanity Projects. You can purchase this painting on Artsy. Please also follow me on Artsy by clicking on the following image or this link: www.artsy.net/artist/seona-sommer


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