The Power of Painting

I was in the Cowan Gallery, where I work as curator talking to visitors as they viewed part of this fabulous collection.  One such painting in this collection is (pictured) Rab & the Girls, by Winslow Homer, o/c, 1875.  I saw a small group pausing in front and scurried over to tell them more about it.  I had my say, and one man started interpreting it differently.  His insight was a little far fetched, I was thinking-  I have seen this painting daily for 20 years and during that time I have looked at it the same and interpreted it to others the same.

The small group was still there as we continued to interpret.  I turned to the woman to my right and she was crying.  It's so beautiful, she said as she backed away.  Never have I thought this work is beautiful, it was early in Homer's painting career, before he went to Gloucester and Cullercoats... Anyway, the other woman in the group said, We like how intimate the women are as they look at the four leaf clover.  Are there any prints for sale?

The rest of he story is that these women were sisters who had just met each other that morning.  They were in their forties and had found one another on the internet.  Their interpretation of the painting matched their extraordinary day and allowed me to see this painting with new eyes.