Seeing a work of art that has been overwrought in mass media is almost always a letdown. I remember seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time, and how disappointing it was. I generally could care less about seeing a Van Gogh or a Klimt. There are some artists that defy this rule, like Botticelli or Michelangelo. And Caravaggio. I have never been let down by Caravaggio.
Then there are the surprises. The images we have probably seen, or in my case walked right by on my way to one of my favorite galleries in the Met. The images that are sometimes part of popular culture or part of our own experience, which slap us in the face and make us sit still.
I was at the Met last week and heading towards a Hieronymus Bosch painting that I love to linger over, with its minuscule imagery of death and torture and ecstasy, as I walked past The Storm, a painting I have walked by so many times in the past, and I could not help but stop.
Then I sat and stared, and its beauty and unimaginable joy seeped into me. It is probably the effect of where I am in my own life, and how I long to give up everything and run through the woods most days, hopefully holding my husband's hand, but the glory of this painting is positively inebriating if you just stop to soak it in.