This past week, Marywood’s art department took a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This was my first time at this museum, and I was so excited to go. I was right to be excited – it was amazing! The museum was enormous, with a seemingly never ending supply of art work. Unfortunately, I did not get to see every exhibit within the museum, so I’ll have to do another trip to see everything. I’d like to share some of my favorite pieces from the museum with you all!
As soon as I entered the room that housed this piece, I fell in love with Hendrick Goltzius’ Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus Would Freeze. This piece depicts Venus being cared for by Bacchus and Ceres as she wraps her arm around a small Cupid who looks out at the audience. The title is a phrase that had been popular, conveying the idea that love would die out without food and wine. What intrigued me about this piece was Bacchus, who I originally thought might be a depiction of the Devil. At first glance, he appears menacing and condescending. Upon further inspection, he seems to be kind, offering grapes to Venus in an encouraging way. This was interesting to me, as Bacchus is typically depicted in a drunken state, with more focus on his “party” aspect. Seeing him as a nurturer who was actively helping his fellow Goddess felt oddly calming – unexpected yet beautiful.
I also love this piece for its apparent simplicity despite its very intricate details. It appears to be a simple black and white drawing, but Goltzius adds whites, yellows, and reds as highlights using oil paint on top of his pen and ink drawing. The colors reflect from the fire on each of the figures faces and bodies, suggesting a kinship between the group. They mutually benefit from helping each other. There is an intimacy that the viewers are invited into: Cupid looks at the viewer, indicating that love could be ours if we tend to it. The intricate cross hatching and other details like Venus’ pearl necklace capture the viewer’s attention and keep you searching for more. I’m sure that I could spend hours at this painting given the chance.
I could probably write about almost every piece I saw during my trip (if my camera roll is any indicator of how many pieces I loved, this would take forever). However, something about Goltzius’ piece above stuck with me, and I had to write about it. I think I definitely found one of my new favorite pieces! Take a look at some of the other pieces I found:
What I loved best about this museum was how expansive their collection was. I was able to dive into a variety of styles, cultures, and meanings as I ventured throughout the museum. I think it’s crucial for any art-lover to experience art in person, especially a variety of art. From contemporary/modern art to Christian iconography to Asian pottery, art has a distinct way of preserving and conveying the importance of one’s beliefs and morals, and that is truly something to be celebrated.