Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adriane Coorte, "Still Life with Asparagus," c 1697, and "A Bowl of Strawberries on a Stone Plinth," c. 1696

There is something utterly enticing about Adriane Coorte's still lives, especially these two in the Rijksmuseum.  White asparagus and deep red strawberries are the luxurious products of plenty that arrive in the spring. The Dutch Golden Age desire to order the world (not the tight string binding the white asparagus) and to revel in its sensual joys are evident here.

The Pioneer Valley where we live in Massachusetts is sometimes called the Asparagus Valley.  But I associate its rich agricultural history and bounty with strawberries.  Some of my fondest memories of returning to Amherst are of picking the first strawberries with the kids at the Food Bank Farm.

Later the same day after seeing the Coorte paintings at the Rijksmuseum I went to the Anne Frank House and saw, on the wall of pictures that remains as Anne pasted them there, a postcard of some strawberries.  In her diary on July 8, not a month before the family was betrayed, and just a month after D-Day, as the Allies advanced from Normandy toward eventual victory, Anne noted the joy felt by the inhabitants of the secret annex as they ate their way through a remarkable gift of a crate of strawberries, listening to the radio, and imagining the possibility of freedom again - going to school, and maybe, the following spring, picking their own strawberries. 

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