McMullen Musings

McMullen Musings: T’Scharner and Emiliana Torrini

The Terrace is excited to feature a new weekly segment that presents our Pic of the Week in connection with a work of art outside the museum—be it, film, photography, music, etc. These McMullen Musings, as they will be called, are meant to serve as contemplative, creative writings that allow our readers to bring pop culture into the museum’s glass paneled walls.

Théodore T’Scharner (1826-1906), Landscape with Pond, n.d., oil on canvas, 17.7 x 29.6 in., Hearn Family Trust.

This week’s Pic of the Week is Théodore T’Scharner’s Landscape with Pond featured in the Nature’s Mirror: Reality and Symbol in Belgian Landscape exhibition. The work, oil on canvas, illustrates an open plain surrounding a pond reflecting the sky’s bittersweet visage. The sun subtly peeks through the dismal clouds, illuminating the surrounding area and shining down on the body of water below.

The painting emotes peace and tranquility while touching upon the somber air of loneliness. The foliage isn’t very lush, but earthy and tough; not an image of paradise, but of solitude. All of the aforementioned immediately bring Emiliana Torrini’s soft “Serenade” to mind.

Torrini’s voice, just above a whisper, sings hypnotically while a guitar’s strummings envelope the airiness left. As she sings, “New world forming / Picturesque in its stance … For the dark finds ways of being / Engraved in the light,” one can imagine the acoustic lullaby setting the soundtrack for the melancholic picture.

The focus of the painting seems to be that the sun is shining in spite of the weather; it is a gallant effort for the light to break through the hardened walls of darkness. The lyrics seem to allude to the painting once more as Torrini sings, “I can hear my name be reborn / On the cloud within the sky beneath the dawn.”

Art has long since been fascinated by nature and these two examples provide a landscape narrative like none other. It is one thing to merely offer a representation of what you see, but another completely to urge the observer, or the listener in Torrini’s case, to feel something. This is the intersection of all art: the truth, the feeling, and yourself.

Be sure to check out this Pic of the Week here at the McMullen and look out for next week’s segment of McMullen Musings!