Guercino’s View of a Lake…(c.1610-66)

Guercino is said to have drawn landscapes like this one as independent works either for sale, as a creative exercise or for his own pleasure. This one is certainly creative. It is difficult to look at without imagining a bearded and mustachioed face emerging out of the trees on the left at a slight angle. It surely represents the artist at one with nature, his "mind" in the sky.

Click next thumbnail to continue
 

Captions for image(s) above:

Guercino, View of a Lake with Bathers and Boaters, Villa on the Opposite Bank (c.1610-66) Pen and brown ink. 6½ x 11½ in. Private Collection, USA.

Click image to enlarge.

While the "face" appears heavily bearded which Guercino was not, that may just be a function of the foliage or, perhaps, a fusion of his face with someone else. I have indicated at left only its narrowest limits; the "beard" seems larger. Note how the "eyebrow" rises upwards as does one of Guercino's in his Self-portrait (next frame). There are more "eyes" formed by branches above, possibly to represent his inner vision.1

Click next thumbnail to continue

Captions for image(s) above:

Diagram of Guercino's View of a Lake showing the veiled face

Click image to enlarge.

If you compare this self-portrait, a copy of one in the Louvre, to the "face" in the trees, the nose, eyes and an austere quality seem similar. Most compelling of all to my mind are Guercino's somewhat singular lips. Take a close look at them by clicking on the image at left.

Click next thumbnail to continue
 

Captions for image(s) above:

Guercino, Self-portrait (c.1635) Oil on canvas. Richard Feigen, USA

Click image to enlarge.

I hope you can see how the essential, quite distinctive, shape of his lips is repeated in the foliage. For other artists, many familiar with his self-portraits, these forms would have been telling.

Click next thumbnail to continue

 

Captions for image(s) above:

Comparitive diagram of the "lips" in the tree and Guercino's in his Self-portrait.

Click image to enlarge.

The bathers and others in or near the lake are all aspects of the artist himself immersed (note the metaphor) in his mind, one or two no doubt able to see their reflection, others sinking deeper into the unconscious. Some may call this observation anachronistic but Freud only codified what great minds like Shakespeare already knew. As did Guercino.

Captions for image(s) above:

Guercino, View of a Lake with Bathers and Boaters, Villa on the Opposite Bank (c.1610-66)

Click image to enlarge.

Notes:

1. It was more normal to depict one inner eye in the mind, not two.

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 14 Jun 2013. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.