Claude Lorrain Oil Painting 1648
I always loved this oil painting by Claude Lorrain. It depicts the court of the Queen of Sheba preparing for her journey to meet King Solomon. Her story is widely told in many cultures and religions, including both the Old Testament and Quran, but also in Ethiopian and Coptic lore as well.
It’s said she met King Solomon and asked him riddles. After he was able to answer them and she was satisfied with his intelligence she gave him many gifts, including a great amount of spice. Some believe she was summoned to the king to be his concubine. Some say she was a jinn, half human, half demon. Many believe they were in love, and still others say it was just a torrid love affair. Really, I tend to believe she was trading with him, not just showering him with gifts. But as with any good legend, it’s hard to know what truly happened. Also, I don’t think it really matters. Well, at least not in this painting.
I first saw this painting at the National Gallery in London and had no idea what it was about. After all, these buildings are obviously not from 500 BC. I’ve often wondered if he painted this, then needed to give it a biblical background so he found a story that would work for him. Landscapes were not popular in the middle of the 17th century and were generally considered not very sophisticated. Perhaps he needed a back story to lend some credence to his work. Or who knows, maybe the Queen of Sheba was his intention all along.
What struck me was the reflection of the sun on the water. It leads your eye straight from the middle of the painting down to the forefront where the men are packing the small boat, which leads you straight up to each of the buildings. Then you think, oh, I should have noticed those wonderful buildings before. Or at least that’s what I think.
I think this painting gives the impression of a new day dawning, a new journey beginning, a new hope for the future. So it seems somewhat fitting that I should use this painting to launch this new blog. I’m certainly embarking on something new myself, a whole new life.
You may note the name of the blog is reboArts. That was Kip’s dream company. Unfortunately, I am not a coder (nor have any intention to be), so no more web hosting. The name, however, will not be completely lost. I will do my best to keep reboArts alive instead by bringing wonderful works of art to those who may not have a chance to experience it in person. I think he would approve.