Sunday, September 18, 2011
My love & hate for Suzanne Fourment
As I opened my room door I would always find her there, staring at me with those inquisitive googled eyes, a silent witness to my little-big childhood tragedies. "Your tortoise is dead, Gen", "You won´t pass your Maths exam, Gen", "You look so ugly with your new hair cut, Gen" - I could read her absent face on which you could see a certain delight in seeing others suffer. One year, at Carnival I dress up as a lady from ancient times and I put on a blue broad-brimmed hat. When I came back home, my stomach decided that the funny mix of sandwiches and pastries I had eaten at school, was too much for it and well, there´s no need to say what happen next. What a mess! And in front of the despicable lady in the painting! "Shame on you, Gen!", "You are six years old, already, Gen!", "You deserve it for pretending to be a distinguished lady like me, Gen".
The painting was made by the only artist-to-be in the family and it had been hanging on that wall long before I was born. They told me that it was a copy from a famous Rubens canvas and that the model was the artist´s sister in law, a lady called Suzanne Fourment. At least I knew a bit more about my "enemy".Time went by and our reciprocal enmity faded away.I stepped into adulthood and I had to say goodbye to many things, Suzanne was among them. Yes, Suzanne left home but this is another ( and too long! ) story. A few years later I saw her again. It was in London and it was the genuine Rubens work, but it wasn´t the same for me. My Suzanne, the Suzanne I had met, had more neutral and brown tones. The one exhibited at the National Gallery had a different light and her eyes were sweeter. This one was a masterpiece, the one we had at home was just a practical exercise done by an amateur artist. The wannabe artist hadn´t even bothered in copying accurately the colours. However his painting, which lacked of skill, etc. had managed to transmit some sensations that I could never find in the original work. Yes, there will always be just a Suzanne Fourment for me. The one that had been saying hello to me every day, for many years, when I opened my room door.
"The other ( for me ) Suzanne Fourment Rubens 1625 National Gallery London
French artist Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, loved this Rubens canvas so much that she did her self-portrait striking a "Fourment" style pose.
A book I want to read ( and buy first! ), a novel about Vigée Le Brun life.