Some things are perfect in themselves, require no explanations. Flower petals, for example, are not metaphors for other things, they are wholly themselves, unexplainable, irreducible. Bird song, the same.
Laces painted by Rembrandt require no explanations, they are irreducible, they are their own reality, larger somehow than what they represent. (All images in the blog can be enlarged for better viewing.)
The paint of them, the white of them, the brush strokes step outside of time and history and reference, the way feathers are timeless, the way whispers are forever, the way intrigue and make-believe and dress-up travel through time.
That’s sort of the way with Rembrandt, though the humanity in his self-portraits shocks you into knowing the man behind the painting, the real human of complexity who understood white and lace, especially against black.
Last Friday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) the laces stopped me on my way to see the Vermeer paintings a few galleries further on. Surrounded by hundreds of masterpieces, the laces are stunning in their confidence of what they are.