Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Stages of Life

Have you ever looked from a harbour, or back to a harbour, at someone you love becoming smaller as a ferry leaves; slipping from clear, close-up definition, into tininess, into a dot, gone.
Caspar David Friedrich’s allegorical painting ‘The Stages of Life’ captures just that poignancy as an old man looks out, past a family, at five ships sailing on the sea of life, finally disappearing into the hazy distance of the horizon.
There is something in that forlorn rocky shore, in  the way the huge sky dwarfs the family grouping, the chill colours of evening, the exaggerated height of the sails of the ships disappearing into the distance, in that boat upturned to look like the rocks. The ships still large in the distance, as humans are to themselves all through life, are disappearing as though they don’t quite realise it themselves. 

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