Rembrandt, "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp," 1632.
The shadows falling across translucent skin, shrunk tight on a cheekbone. Shadows pool, lap at an arch above it, hide in a hollow in the flesh beneath it. An absence of moonlight, if painted. Absence of oxygen, if cool to the touch; it’s lilac, not rose, in this garden.
In “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp,” every man paid for their portrait, save the corpse. Money and art made them memorable; money and art will make us forget our deaths, even as we see its proof. (Dear ones, at twilight we’re tidepools, not gardens.)
Money, and art. Still, there’s joy even in this sealed tomb, in the unremitting absence of light. Tenebrae performed in a room full of holy treasures: not the gilding, or art, but the faithful who know how dark the darkness will be, and yet keep singing, even so.