Today’s blog is written by our London Office Assistant District Manager, Clare Harwood.
I have never been to Venice but I fully intend to one day. In the meantime, I decided the next best thing was to go and see an exhibition at The National Gallery, London on Venice – Canaletto and his rivals. I knew this would be a pretty one-dimensional representation of the city, but it would be a start. No smells, noise or ice cream!
During the 18th century, Venice was a major destination for dignitaries and tourists. It was also one of the top destinations for young aristocrats visiting Europe’s cultural sites on their Grand Tour. A souvenir painting of the city was an important record of their travels known as Venetian vedute, or ‘view paintings’ – a rather up-market souvenir.
Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto or ‘little canal’, was one such painter. He was born in Venice in 1697, and soon became one of the best artists of his genre.
In each of the six exhibition rooms there were some beautiful paintings depicting magnificent buildings, wonderful regattas and grand civic ceremonies set in the shimmering light of the lagoon around Venice.
It soon became apparent wandering through these rooms, and listening to the audio-tape, that the various artists often painted scenes that took considerable ‘poetic licence’. In one picture the façades of all the buildings were painted as if they were new, and I must say they looked splendid with the sun shining on them. The truth was that the walls were in fact decaying and covered in moss and ivy, as another artist’s picture showed, hanging alongside Canaletto’s.
In other paintings, whole buildings or parts of buildings were missed off totally, to produce the view of Venice the artist wanted the buyer to see. The forerunner of today’s airbrushing I suspect! Interestingly enough none of these artists were particularly good at depicting people and many left this part of their painting to specialists to finish off!
We all have a different take on what we see. Look at the media for example. If 10 reporters were asked to cover a news story, each account would be slightly different. If they were then asked to comment on the same scene the difference would be even greater. The story is often packaged further in a way which will make it attractive to buy and read. So what is the true picture before us?
We need to be discerning and to dig deep to get at the truth about a situation for ourselves if we are really interested in understanding what is going on around us. Once we have found out the truth for ourselves, then and only then, are we qualified to comment on it.
What do I see when I read the headlines of a national paper or the day’s national news? I can take them at face value, like unquestioningly accepting what I see in the Canaletto picture, or I can tune in to what I understand to be true.
My chosen religion, Christian Science, has helped me countless times to reassess the picture before me – as assessed by the senses – which would steer me to view things in a one dimensional physical way.
Getting the true picture about a situation is not just a question of airbrushing out what we don’t want to see, or experience! That is not what it is about at all.
When I align my thought to prayer, quietly waiting on God to guide me and show me the truth about the scene before me, then I find myself to be guided in the right direction. In our lives, the picture we witness just using our material palette is often the antipode of that created for our spiritual 3D viewfinder.
The founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, knew the importance of looking in the right direction and then walking that way to see the true picture, “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives.”
This is taken from her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures which has helped readers whom she describes as “honest seekers for Truth” to correct their view in a way which has enabled them to practically replace illness with health, lack with supply, sadness with joy, discouragement with resolution…. I could go on.
We can see for ourselves the world as God created it in all its glory…. and we can still enjoy art for art’s sake!