Wednesday, May 3

a memory of pictures

Gracing a bent flight of slippery stairs grazed a full dozen identically framed oblong views of cattle. Grim gray tree trunks, brown lank grass, chocolate and mustard cows were anonymously charmless but hand-painted. Above the dining-room sideboard hung an ample, beautiful, and luxurious homage to fruit, flowers, vegetables, fish, conch shells, and a dead rabbit, signed Melchior Hondecoeter. It was an original. Dry, flaking colors exposed fine-grained, pale, dusty linen beneath. Its condition was troubling. After all the labor in presenting an industrious vision of delight, no one seemed to have loved it recently. Pictures, one gathered, were neither impervious nor eternal, despite massive frames, rarity or cost.

-- Lincoln Kirstein, in "Boston: Frames and Outlines," recalling his boyhood home before his mother redecorated it, from By With To & From: A Lincoln Kirstein Reader, ed. Nicholas Jenkins