Thursday, August 30, 2012

Portrait of Louis-Auguste Schwiter

When I was in grammar school the thought of one day being married or much less in a relationship repulsed me. I hated the idea of having to kiss someone with cooties or having to be dependent upon someone other than myself. But my mother always told me that one day when I was all grown up I would change my mind and fall in love with a nice young man who would one day become my husband. And when I pictured this "nice young man" I would always see the same person standing before me. Some tall, thin man with dark hair and eyes who had a pale complexion. His personality or interests were never apparent to me but from what I saw I was scared. Because, though he was handsome, he would one day become the person, I believed, would take away all of my freedom.

As I grew older I began to become less disgusted by the idea of having to be with someone. True it still scared me but it was starting to become more of a pleasant idea. Soon those dark eyes became less of a threat and more of a comfort and his height became more of a need since my neck hurt from looking down so much. But no matter how many pictures you create in your mind of a person you will never be prepared for what they actually look like because, let's face it, finding him would like finding a needle in a haystack

So when I grew up a bit more I opened up my mind to other features and started to like boys with ginger hair or darker skin, leaving the guy from mind for my characters on the pages. In fact I had completely moved on from my middle school fantasies until today when I entered London's National Gallery and found his portrait hanging right in front of me.

There, painted onto a life size canvas, was the portrait of the man I had once planned on marrying. The picture is of a young man named Louis-Auguste Schwiter, a painter and soon to be baron who lived from 1805 until 1889. That is more than a century before my time, a fact that scares me more than I could possibly explain.  How could I have possibly come up with a real life person I have never before today?

It's eerie how someone from the past could have the exact likeness of a man you created in your head when you were five. 

The painting is entitled: Portrait of Louis-Auguste Schwiter. It was painted in 1826-30 by the artist Eugène Delacroix of the soon to be baron, Louis-Auguste Schwiter

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