May 17th, 2020
By Victoria Slagel, Fine Art Consultant
While anxieties have been rightfully high during this global pandemic, I feel blessed to say I have been hunkered down in my Park City home, safe and sound, making way too many commutes to the refrigerator and indulging in afternoon naps. I can confidently say I beat Netflix during quarantine, while my stack of half read books stared at me longingly and the neat pile of art supplies felt neglected, the comfort of cinema remains a constant even now. Between re-watching every episode of Sex and the City and going deep into the foreign cine-files, one particular piece of art stuck out to me the most. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, written and directed by Celine Sciamma, nominated in 2019 for the Palme d’Or in Cannes Film Festival, this French historical drama tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.
Marianne is hired by Heloise’s mother to paint her bridal portrait, but there is one catch — Heloise refuses to sit for the portrait and must not be made aware that Marianne is there for that reason. Marianne studies her features during the day while spending time together, and at night secretly gets to work. The two females end up bonding and when the portrait is finished, Marianne reveals her creation to Heloise before showcasing the finished work to her mother. Heloise delivers a negative critique to the art which prompts Marianne to destroy the painting before Heloise’s mother views the piece. Much to the mother’s surprise, Heloise agrees to sit for her painting. Marianne begins the portrait again…
This film is rich with emotion and beauty, the score is perfect and it’s one of those films that leaves you feeling “different” than when you started. It touches on art, female politics, religion, love, lust, drama, music, and sex. Just some of my favorite things. How have you been spending your “free time?” If it didn’t include sweat pants and snacks did you even quarantine?