Weekly Photo Challenge: The Missing Masterpiece

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I never thought I’d behold in person my favorite portrait, John Singer Sargent’s  Lady Agnew of Lochnaw. We found ourselves face-to-face in Scotland’s National Gallery, where the masterpiece is even more striking than I had imagined, suspended by gold against a cobalt blue wall.

It would be an extraordinary day if I did not spend a healthy portion of it trying to locate my keys, my work necessities, my phone–and occasionally my vehicle itself.

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Another enduring masterpiece  resides only temporarily downstairs from Lady Agnew, on loan to the Scottish National Gallery.

(I’ve noticed a commonplace linguistic device of referring to widows and widowers as having “lost” a spouse, as if there were a possibility of recovering him or her again.)

People lose many things.

I try never to lose track of my masterpieces, however.

Continue reading “Weekly Photo Challenge: The Missing Masterpiece”


Phillips Church, Exeter, NH

My mother described this photograph, taken by a friend while I spoke at my husband’s memorial service, as resembling a “mini-Vermeer.”  The photograph is as I remember my surroundings from my perspective: only small crescents of light amid intricate dark wood panels and deep jewels of leaded glass.

And I remember blurred darkness as I spoke: the deep navy blue of my sleeve, the mahogany grain of the lectern against which my inadequate words swam in a shadow of black font on paper puckered and rippled from my fingers’ grip.

But I learned there was at least one entirely different perspective on what can be seen in the same photograph.

I wrote about light streaming through the University Chapel’s front glass windows, cued by the words “fill us with the light of day,” as Hymn to Joy was sung at a recent alumni memorial service.

One of my husband’s sisters responded that the story of the recent service reminded her “of the incredible sunlight coming in through the stained glass windows at Jim’s service in Exeter while you were talking about your life with him. It was simply stunning.”

I saw shadows; she saw the sunlight. Continue reading “Chiaroscuro”

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