tears - not too tiny to paint

Is it with a hint of disapproval that Friedländer thus describes the manner of Bernard van Orley  (painter in Brussels around 1520) : 

"Schmerz und Klage  sind mit der dem Zeitgeschmäck zusagenden Sentimentalität in gerunzelten Stirnen und geöffneten Mündern ausgedrückt. (1)"

But not a word about the tears (2) – which I am staring at, fascinated.

The gestures & cries of lamentations are universal – these days the media are full of them.       
People are shown crying, for sure, but their tears? Their tears are too silent, too tiny for TV.
Not too tiny to be painted though, at least not for the old masters, who never disdained detail.     

And so, across generations, one can find consolation in tiny blobs of paint, more permanent than we are, preserving things as fleeting as a tear rolling down a nose.


(1) "Pain and lamenting are expressed, according to the sentimental taste of the time, through wrinkled foreheads and open mouths."  (Friedländer -  Altniederländische Malerei VIII)

(2) Orley could of course draw on a rich heritage - notably on the work of Rogier van der Weyden, who painted "the most beautiful tears in our art history" (Leen Huet - "Mijn België")

(3) apologies for the dark photos - painting tears may be feasible, photographing them is yet another matter. Especially in a the dimmed light of a museum room, and with Orley's dark/light "to heigthen pathos and to facilitate his own job" "Das Pathos dadurch steigernd verhüllt er mit Dunkelheit Schwächen der Form und erleichtert sich die Arbeit."

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