The Throwback

Hanging on the blue wall, in a translucent frame that exposes the withered edge of the paper, is an etching. A genuine “come up and see my etchings” kind of etching; a bygone style, rarely recognised, unfamiliar, barely worthy of nostalgia.

The mood of the piece is gloomy, oppressive. The heavy shadow of trees obscures much of the detail of the scene, depicting a road leading to an ancient building. Next to the road, a church spire blends into the darkness, suggesting early morning, moonlight, or an especially grey day. A curved window shines out of the church wall, providing the scene with depth and life. The glare lights the yard beneath the window, casting a glow on a lone tree in the foreground, giving the viewer a better sense of shape in the shadows. On closer inspection, the picture is more filled with light than first impressions elicit. The shadows dominate and the light provides shape and contrast. However, the light is still muted, as the only sources are the small church windows and the cloudy (moonlit?) sky.

The picture is far too small for the proportions of the wall on which it hangs. A tiny, A3 sized beige swatch resting on a turquoise field. The centring of the piece presents it as something important, something to be cherished and regarded, to pause and reflect upon. 

Below the sharply defined edges of the picture is the faint pencil scrawl of a name and a title. With much squinting, the name “Maurice Emile Blieck” is discerned along with the words “Ypres, Cloître Saint Pierre,” the monastery of St. Peter, Ypres.


One thought on “The Throwback

  1. What an richly detailed description! I kept scrolling back up to take another look at the etching as I read. I was fascinated by your initial description – “barely worthy of nostalgia” – followed by your long close examination. Interestingly, the way you contrasted its placement on the wall with the barely discernible title and signature left me interested and vaguely nostalgic – exactly the emotion you claimed this etching did not merit. Nice writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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