Thursday, October 02, 2008


This term's Ambleside artist is Botticelli. One of the paintings I've been looking at over and over again is Fortitude.

I am intrigued by John Ruskin's critique of the painting from Mornings in Florence:

What is chiefly notable in her is--that you would not, if you had to guess who she was, take her for Fortitude at all. Everybody else's Fortitudes announce themselves clearly and proudly. They have tower-like shields, and lion-like helmets--and stand firm astride on their legs, --and are confidently ready for all comers.. Yes;--that is your common Fortitude. Very grand, though common. But not the highest, by any means.

Ready for all comers, and a match for them,--thinks the universal Fortitude; --no thanks to her for standing so steady, then!

But Botticelli's Fortitude is no match, it may be, for any that are coming. Worn, somewhat; and not a little weary, instead of standing ready for all comers, she is sitting,--apparently in reverie, her fingers playing restlessly and idly--nay I think--even nervously, about the hilt of her sword.

For her battle is not to begin today, nor did it begin yesterday. Many a morn and eve have passed since it began -- and now--is this to be the ending day of it? And if this--by what manner of end?

That is what Sandro's Fortitude is thinking. And the playing fingers about the sword hilt would fain let it fall, if it might be: and yet, how swiftly and gladly will they close on it, when the far-off trumpet blows, which she will hear through all her reverie.

Fortitude does not always announce itself. Sometimes it sits quietly for a long time, nervously waiting, weary and uncertain. But ready, nevertheless. Fortitude that is undergirded by faith in God's sovereignty waits in patient, hopeful expectation with joy. I desire to be a woman with that kind of fortitude.

1 comment:

Amber Benton said...

Thanks for posting this. When I visited Kelly she told me about studying this painting with the boys. I made a joke about hanging it so I could see it everymorning... I wasn't really joking, but I hadn't gone to look it up myself. Thanks for putting an image with the description that often comes to my mind - and thanks Kelly for first sharing it with me!