Monday, July 16, 2007

Mending by Daniel Garber

Mending by Daniel Garber is my favorite painting of a woman sewing. I believe that this is also a portrait of Garber's wife. Daniel Garber was a member of the Pennsylvania Impressionists. He was born in 1880 and died in 1958 from a fall off a ladder in his studio. He and his fellow artists in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, art colony resisted the growing tendency toward abstraction of the early 20th century and instead persisted in painting very beautiful landscapes and paintings of their families, friends, and homes. Why do I love this painting? The lady is sewing and she is very concentrated in her work, which earns her our respect. It does not seem as if she is thinking about anything else; her mending demands her total concentration. However, although absorbed in her work, her crossed leg and the graceful dangling of her foot show that she is also relaxed. She is content with what she is doing--she expresses focus but not tension. This painting also reminds me of Vermeer's work, because of the smock, the blue of her skirt and of the atmosphere, her profiled pose, and her hair. For these reasons also I find that this painting has a religious quality. The mender's posture is bowed, her head is lowered. This is because of the way she is holding her work, but her posture, which is chosen by the painter, also gives the impression of humility. The permeation of the painting with blue and light tel me that the real subject is the love that Garber has for his subject, and which he wants to raise to the sublime. The blue and the mender's bowed head remind me of Mary, and the prominence of the little straw basket at her feet reminds me also of this painting by Gerard David, Rest on the Flight to Egypt painted in the Netherlands in 1510--

and so I am always inspired by Garber's Mending to sew and seek peace in doing so.

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