Monday, May 30, 2011

Stendahl Syndrome

                                Neriad on a Sea Panther from Pompeii.  Fresco

                             Terra Cotta Figure from the collection of the Louvre

                                             Stendahl Syndrome 
Stendahl describes feeling a highly charged emotion while confronting the collection of art displayed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

"I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty ... I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations ... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul.'' Stendahl 1817

Celestial sensations well describe the feeling that the visual arts can provoke.  
The lovely Terra Cotta shown above is displayed in the Louvre, Paris.  It is over 2,000 years old and made by pressing clay into a simple mold. It is pure poetry in form. 
The fresco of the Neriad on a Sea Panther is from Pompeii and housed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples. In the words of Stendahl, these fantastic artworks speak vividly to my soul. 
I am in the process of creating visual portfolios for sabbatical research.  The terra cotta votive figures, also called Tanagras are one of my subjects.  
The Looking part of the creative process fills me with joy. It sustains and inspires.
The feeling that Stendahl describes is a familiar one.   Recognizing the marks of the hand and understanding the process and technology of the artworks provides an additional dimension of delight.
Art connects us across generations and cultures, it is a powerful and direct communication. The visual arts draw humanity into the great museums and collections of the world like moths to a flame. We are provoked and attracted through our unique sensibilities to various works and themes. Perhaps the formation of that unique sensibility is the greatest gift that the arts give to humanity. The treasure is immense, unfathonable.  
The garden patiently awaits it's visitors. 


  1. Amazing images. I can see why you would be inspired. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Inspiring Michelle! as always, poetic and lyrical and inspiring!

  3. On the connections that art grants us through the making, I often feel that the peace that comes with creating magically bridges other more ephemeral territories of time and space, so that far away and long ago friends can always be with us. For this I am grateful, as for your blog.