Sunday, August 11, 2019

the yellow dog (Carpaccio) - imaginary project 17


the yellow dog

Vittore Scarpanza (Italianised as Carpaccio), the son of, perhaps, an immigrant Dalmation merchant, was a Venetian painter who lived from around 1460 into the 1520s, as one century slid into another. The actual dates of his birth and death remain uncertain, as do most biographical facts about him. Before he drifted in obscurity after age 50, he painted many beautifully luminous paintings. Here, a dog from St. Augustine in his Study (1502-1507), patiently sits and stares up and, I think, out the lit window, as does Augustine. Outside is an annunciation, the death of Jerome, to whom Augustine may or may not be writing a letter. Scholars believe the dog looks at the living saint, but I wonder. That dogs see ghosts is an old human belief, still persisting in many cultures. Why not man and dog aware of an old friend?

Imagine a film of a small mongrel dog grooming itself, and a woman writing, both seated before a daylit window. Radiance gradually increases. Both look up and out until the radiance, as slowly as it came, abates. They return to their tasks.

Ask yourself. What do they see? 

Probe deeper, with a dog's eye.

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