September 5, 2007

My favorite skull

. . . well, my favorite apart from my own skull, I guess.

This is a painting I used to visit frequently in the Louvre Museum in Paris when I lived there right after college. The guy in this "Portrait of an Artist in His Studio," by Theodore Gericault, represented exactly how I felt at that time in my life.

To me this is the perfect representation of the attitude of Romanticism in the early 19th century -- emotional, brooding, intense . . . the youthful rebel . . . the earliest version of the Rock 'n Roll attiude.

And it's a long tradition, way back to the Renaissance, to show a skull in paintings of the artist's studio. Artists actually had skulls around to help them study anatomy, but it also shows that the artist is thinking about important issues --- life and death.