Wednesday 6 November 2019

Books, Consolation, Contemplation

In this ca.1910 tinted photograph (a Real-Photo Postcard), a French woman in conservative dress (probably in mourning dress), sits on a wooden chair, holding a book.

Probably due to entirely-accidental over-exposure, the book appears as a literal tabula rasa (a clean slate), but the mourning dress and contemplative pose of the sitter (a distant look, two fingers of the right hand gently resting on her jaw) suggest a work of religious consolation and piety.

We are to imagine that our sitter is meditating on the profound words she has been reading, our imagination being entirely liberated by the lack of any visible text above, on the theme of memento mori or sic transit gloria mundi (the inevitability of death, or the passing glory of the world in general).

The verso of the card is stamped “Charles Fiérens Rue Meyerbeer, 15, Roubaix” (i.e., 15 Rue Meyerbeer, Roubaix, France). Nothing seems to be known about Fiérens (sic transit Fiérens!), but Roubaix is a city in northern France, on the boarder of France-Belgium.

No comments: