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Showing posts from March, 2021

Deflected Eyes

    Portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt by Hans Holbein I’ve always found this drawing haunting.  Holbein used only chalks, pen and ink, with minimal work on everything except the face, especially the eyes.  Probably drawn between 1535 and 1537, it has astonishing vitality: I feel an immediacy, as if he were – or is – contemporaneous, and that it is me rather than Holbein, who faces him.   And as I watched I saw his eyes look past, past me, into the past – or was it yet to come about?  That glance will now outlast the face so soon to go.  We have not met but still askance he looks. Unblinking gaze, eye-witness of grave acts beyond my view I cannot see, nor find the words or phrase to tell.  His face is blank.  I must look through to see the man whose features show no signs of feelings – sadness, joy, relief or fear –  just cautious observation.  Through the lines the artist drew, his face and I draw near. The mouth and nose and beard I scrutinise, but first and last, I see deflected e