St. Rictrudis, Speak to Me

Saint Rictrudis

When I visit art museums, I like to see if the art speaks to me.

Of course art is supposed to speak to us, in the more general sense.

But I want the people in the art to use real words. I tried to get a menopausal tip from this painting by Rembrandt. I hoped the hand poised near her abdomen was a sign she had something to say girl-wise, but alas, she did not speak.




Rictrudis, the lovely lady who resides in statue-form at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, was French and lived in the seventh century. She married Adalbald, a knight. Together, they produced four children.

But into every life, rain must fall. Rictrudis’s parents weren’t happy with the marriage, so they murdered Adalbald. Yep. Talk about conflict with the in-laws.

But Rictrudis didn’t let such tragedy curtail her energetic spirit. Defying pressure to remarry, she started a convent at Marchiennes and became the first abbess.

I stood in front of her. Our trip to the Nasher was my first venture into the world after cancer surgery. I’d spent the last three weeks mostly on the couch. Tonight the museum felt so real, so colorful, so filled with treasure, so alive.

Speak to me, St. Rictrudis.

Rien. Nothing.

My French is tres mauvais, so if she had used words, I wouldn’t have caught them anyway.

But beyond words, the look on her face and Rictrudis’s story tells me this: When life gets tough, the tough keep going. I knew that.

But it’s helpful to be reminded by a wooden lady carved centuries ago.


Another Shot

To learn more about Rictrudis and the work done to restore her statue, check out the article from the Nasher Museum of Art.

And BTW, I did have a statue smile at me. Cliff said the other day, “I thought you made it up!” No! This truly happened, albeit the sun was bright.


The Pink Nude and You Nude

Pink Nude by Henri Matisse

I recently met the above naked lady at an exhibit at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. You can read more about this fabulous exhibit here.

Painted by Henri Matisse in 1935, The Pink Nude is one of hundreds of pieces of French art collected by the Cone sisters from my hometown of Baltimore.

Claribel Cone, a physician and researcher, and her sister Etta  were supported largely by their brother Moses. The sisters were avant-garde in their artistic tastes. (Although you wouldn’t guess it from their outfits.)

Here they are with their buddy, Gertude Stein.  (Gertrude is in the middle):

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The Cone sisters had an eye for art and became a patron of Matisse when he was little appreciated by the art world.

Their pink friend in the painting, looking oh so nonchalant and tres comfortable with her pose au naturel, got me thinking about nudity.

My own.

Sometimes, in the shower, I glance down at myself and think, rats! I’m starting to look like  the world doesn’t think nudes should look. I could make a long list of famous artists who would never bop down from heaven to paint me.

And other times, especially when I’m in a good mood, I’ll stand in front of the mirror in my bedroom and think, hey, sure you need to put some clothes on soon, but Barbara nude isn’t so bad.

Now it’s your turn.

I’ve bared my thoughts. Time for you to bare yours.

Patti Winker, you’re extra brave about telling us stuff.

Do tell.

To  help fuel the conversation, here’s another Mattise from the Cone Collection.  She’s on the blue side, not nearly as comfortable in her skin as the lady in pink.

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What about you? Does nudity make you rosy or blue?

Note Card Giveaway!  Congratulations to Diane, who won the Suzanne Cheryl Gardner giveaway.