Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Sunday, Sunday

with 2 comments

Every once in a while, I have thi s fantasy that I will one day be able to establish a personal schedule that will never have to change. 

Part of that schedule would be what I think of as Sacrosanct Sunday Mornings, a time when I would have to do absolutely nothing but listen to music and read. 

In fact, I’d have Sacrosanct Sundays, period, where all I would have to do was listen to music, read, run a DVD or two, and mostly glide into cooking Sunday dinner. 

Since I actually enjoy cooking, the Sacrosanctness of the Sunday would not be broken by that last bit.   I could just glide right up to it and then pick something really complicated to make to round off the day.

This being the real world, I am nowhere close to my ideal. 

At the moment, I’m finishing a book on which I have a deadline.  This means the first thing I do when I get up in the morning, before the tea steeps even, is to boot up the computer and try to get into the heads of some very unpleasant people.

This morning, though, I got what I guess was a little lucky.  I usually get up around 4.  Today, I got up at 2, tried to go back to sleep, found I was wide awake, tried to go back to sleep and then gave up.

Then I came downstairs, booted up the computer, steeped the tea and did the work.

It was then that the sort of good luck happened.  Having gotten up that early, I found, when I finished work, that it wasn’t time to Start The Day.  It was only about the time I usually got up to work.

I therefore marched back out into the living room, put on Paul O’dette’s Alla Venetiana, and read the first of two essays that m ake up a little book called The Piero della Francesca Trail.

This is not a book that is new to me.  I bought it and read it years ago, at which point it disappeared into my office and was never seen again–until a couple of days ago, when I found it while plowing through the place wondering where something else was.

This is also not a book in the way I usually think of books.

What I mean is that it’s not exactly book length.

It consists of two essays, one short and one long.  The short one is by Aldous Huxley–yes, the Brave New World Huxley–and is called “The Best Picture.” It’s about the della Francesca Resurrection.   The long essay is by John Pope-Hennessy and is called “The Piero della Francesca Trail.”  It covers the entire body of della Francesca’s work.

Two essays do not a book  make, of course, and the volume is very slim, but it would have been even slimmer if it  had not included page after page after page of color plates. 

The artwork is well produced and absolutely gorgeous, even though the pages aren’t the slick stuff that sometimes feels like plastic. 

Artwork in a book about Piero della Francesca is  pretty much essential, since so much of what he did is tucked away in churches and muncipal buildings and museums in and around Urbino.  What’s  more, a few of those  places “around” Urbino are…how shall we put it?–out of the way.

Very out of the way.

The small press that put out the book still has a page up for it,  here:


It markets the book as a travel volume, and The Little Bookroom seems to specialize in travel, food and wine and speciality  items.  I checked their available notecards, but there were none with della Francesca paintings on them. 

Granted,  he’s not exactly decorative. People  might find him a little intense on a notecard.

Or maybe a notecard would just be ironic, considering the message of some of della Francesca’s paintings.

For what it’s worth, I think Huxley is wrong.  I think the best picture–in the world, not just in della Francesca’s work; Huxley  meant in the world, too–

Anyway, I think the best picture in the world is this  one


It’s become customary lately to rename this painting something-or-the-other about St. Jerome, and that’s the title of it Pope-Hennessy uses, but it has been The Flagellation to so many generations that the new name doesn’t quite seem to stick except for professionals.

Under one name or the other, I still think it’s the best painting in the world, ever.  And under one name or the other, I think it still has the same underlying message. 

If you’re interested in Paul O’dette, there’s some stuff up on YouTube.  I don’t suppose it says much to tell you that  he’s he go-to guy for Lute, but he is.

Anyway, there  is absolutely nothing interesting about any of this to anyone except me.  There is no grand societal message–well, della Francesca has one, but I don’t.  There’s no speculation on the death of Western civilization or moaning about endemic stupidity or arguing with the wrongheaded.

This is just  here because I love it, and it makes me happy. 

And I’m going to go spend the day with  it, at least  until  it’s time to do something about the chicken.

Written by janeh

July 21st, 2013 at 7:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Sunday, Sunday'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Sunday, Sunday'.

  1. My perfect Sunday does not involve cooking, but the rest of the activities sounded like fun.

    Artwork. My art books on Breughel, Bosch, Durer, Holbein and David would just about let me pass muster as a serious liberal arts major–but next to them would be Pyle, Freas, Whelan and Frazetta in multiple volumes which would get me thrown out again. The odd thing is, though, if you forget that the first group are Serious Artists and the second are Modern Commercial Hacks and just look at subject, style and composition, they pretty well belong together. Now, if I replaced Pyle, Frazetta & Co with the likes of Klimt, Mondrain and Picasso, the Serious Liberal Arts Major would nod approvingly–but it would look as though I collected the art or two different planets.


    21 Jul 13 at 11:51 am

  2. What an interesting concept, The Best Painting in the World. When I read that, this is what I thought of…

    When I was (finally) completing my bachelor’s degree, when I had the opportunity I filled out my electives with Art History, specifically Renaissance AH classes. I had seen this portrait in classes and then I found myself in New York, with an afternoon to spend alone at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I made a beeline for it, and then…had a profound experience. If one was religiously oriented, it might be described that way, I suppose. It was that affecting.

    In reproduction, this portrait is *nothing.* In person, it has a presence so real you can practically *smell* the subject. His dignity and the sense of a moment caught forever, about to break into motion and life, are palpable. While the description says Velasquez painted it to impress his peers, what he’s created is an extraordinary sense of human connection across centuries.

    Well, enough gushing. Later in life, I’ve also gotten quite fond of Calder, Miró, and yes, Pollock. And I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying Frazetta paintings. Yum.

    Happy Sunday, to all. :)


    21 Jul 13 at 12:34 pm

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bad Behavior has blocked 800 access attempts in the last 7 days.