For ten years London was the place I called home. The city resides in my heart, wrapping it with a patchwork of a worn out upholstery fabric.
While my wife and daughter went hunting and gathering, I thought I’d go and visit my London friends, the ones hanging on the National Gallery’s walls.
It was a freezing, bright sunny day, and from Covent Gardens I walked briskly straight into the temple. The National Gallery, despite its majestic staircase, leaves a very brief moment of recovery from the contemporary sounds and sites of the street and the home of its time-rich treasures.
I knew my way notwithstanding the many years which passed since my last visit. My eyes were first seeking Piero Della Francesca’s The Baptism of Christ, then his Saint Michael and the Nativity. From there, to Ghirlandaio, Rosso Fiorentino, Michelangelo, the breathtaking Leonardo and so I ended up sitting in front of Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid.
I took out my tiny sketchbook and started a quick study. As I was drawing, I heard a little voice calling in French: “Maman, maman, viens voir, c’est Venus!” – “mom, come and see, it is Venus!” Shortly after the sound, came the image of the back of a six years old girl who was pointing at the picture. Her two glittering eyes seemed to be pulling with invisible strings her mother who was trailing behind her, calling her to come and read the sign, only to acknowledge that indeed, she was right, it is Venus in the painting!
The flurry of questions the little one inundated her mother with, was intense and full of beauty and wit.
I couldn’t help myself and asked this little princess – how come she manage to recognise Venus from afar? without a hesitation, she replied:“ par sa beauté”– by her beauty! It was now I who was the target of the sweetest, most inquisitive set of questions she required answers to. her mom, standing next to us was smiling and asked if I was not too bothered by her daughter’s curiosity. When they were about to leave, the little girl looked at me and then gave me a big hug. Her mom said to me:” She will remember this”
I then Guaranteed her that I will not forget Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid.
So, I came to London, visited my Italian heroes, and returned back home with a French gift.