We were real once...
Wandering through the British National Gallery, it’s easy to forget that all the faces staring back at you were once real people with thoughts, hopes, dreams, love and ambition. It’s easy to dwell on the famous images, Madame de Pompadour, Vigee Le Brun, Rembrandt. However, the unfamiliar faces are often the most inspirational.
As my husband and I explored the gallery last week, the portrait that really caught our attention was Don Justino de Neve by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. Neither the sitter nor the artist is famous enough to immediately draw our attention. What did catch our attention was the fat little dog with the red bow painted in the corner looking up adoringly at her master. In a room full of formality, the trappings of wealth, power and fame, this little dog helped remind us that Senor de Neve was once a real person. After all, only a real person with a genuine affection for his canine companion, or perhaps with a great sense of humor and the ability to poke fun at himself, would think to include such a cute little dog in a red bow in such a formal portrait.
The dog not only reminds us of Senor de Neve’s humanity, it provides us with a connection to the gentleman and his time and to all the other people pictured alongside him. Looking around that one gallery, we both noticed the number of companion dogs painted alongside their owners. My husband and I are very attached to our little dog, as are my parents and my sister to theirs. To see so many people over the ages attached to theirs helps remind us that despite the years between us, we are not so different.