Sunnyside was born many years ago, the name of my fictional home for orphaned children and animals in a story for Mrs. Watson’s eighth grade writing class. A medical degree and six biologic homeschooled children later, Sunnyside became the name of my classical education website, Sunnyside Classical Christian School. Now entering a new phase of life, I plan to rest and reflect on all things true and beautiful here At Sunnyside.
Who is the lovely woman pictured in my avatar?
According to The Met, Euphemia Van Rensselaer (1816–1888) … was born on the family manor, Rensselaerswyck, near Albany, New York.
Healy painted the portrait in Paris, where he executed works for visiting Americans as well as for the French king, Louis Philippe. He blends both lavish detail and texture with a sensitive portrayal of character before a setting suggestive of the Roman campagna from which the sitter had just returned. The portrait, which shows the influence of the German-born painter Franz Xavier Winterhalter, demonstrates a stunning simplicity, grace, and vivacity rarely equalled in Healy’s oeuvre.
Quote from The Met
And why is she my face to the world?
I was not born in a manor, nor have I been fortunate enough to see the Roman campagna. Neither do I look fetching in bright yellow bonnets…. 😉
Look at her body language, and read the expression on her face. I can almost see her raising one eyebrow (politely) at George Healy as he undoubtedly scrutinized her closely for many hours while he painted. He captured something true about her character that transcends art. This painting says,
Do not underestimate me.
George Healy – Euphemia White Van Rensselear – 1842.
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 75
At Sunnyside we will follow the advice of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.
Oh, and At Sunnyside, absolutely no pronouns will be shamed. If Johann Wolfgang von Goethe thinks man should seek respite from worldly cares by rejoicing in music, poetry, and art, then I have enough good sense to understand that he means all of us.
Just don’t tell Mr. Trudeau. Or perhaps someone should? 😉
While my own worldview is unapologetically Christian, all polite inhabitants of this glorious world, regardless of pronoun, religious, or any other preference, are welcome to join me here At Sunnyside, where I come to rest in all things beautiful while searching for truth in matters both large and small.
Image credit: George Peter Alexander Healy [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons