The Balcony Scene

ChasingART is celebrating Valentine’s Day 2020 on the balcony with Romeo and Juliet.

The play, Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare is the most famous love story in the English literary tradition.

Love at first sight carries the depth and breadth of emotional passion exemplified by Romeo and Juliet.  Is it possible that love can spring up with such urgency and speed?  We want to believe it and yet, there is uncertainty, almost a mistrust. We hope, against hope, that the play will have a happy ending –  Romeo and Juliet alive, the parents happy and families united.  Alas….

Over the years, Romeo and Juliet’s balcony scene is irresistible – to writers, poets and painters.  We never tire of hearing the words, especially on the day that commemorates love.

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off!

Enter the scene, Francesco Hayez, an Italian painter who lived from 1791 – 1882. As the leading artist of Romanticism in mid-19th-century Milan,  he is remembered for his grand historical paintings, political allegories, and exceptionally fine portraits. A poignant goodbye, an early morning, sunshine and a final kiss.

Last kiss for Julia from Romeo by Francesco Hayez (Public Domain)

 

It is my lady. Oh, it is my love.
Oh, that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that?
Her eye discourses. I will answer it.—
I am too bold. ‘Tis not to me she speaks.

Enter the scene, Ford Madox Brown (1821 – 1893),  a British painter of moral and historical subjects, that leaned toward the Pre-Raphaelite style of capturing a narrative. Brilliant colours and flowing garments add drama to the final goodbye.  Juliet’s closed eyes, a subtle portent of tragedy.

Romeo and Juliet by Ford Maddox Brown (Public Domain)

 

Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars

Enter the scene, Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee (1853 – 1928), an English Victoria painter, who loved to portray dramatic literary, historical, and legendary scenes.  Fashionable Victorian women trusted him to paint their portraits, which led to a very successful career. Those climbing vines lend to symbolism of movement, as if there there is no turning back.

Romeo and Juliet by Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee (Public Domain)

 

As daylight doth a lamp. Her eye in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand.
Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand
That I might touch that cheek!

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 2

Happy Valentine’s Day from ChasingART. Let us celebrate love for it has the power to shine brightly even in the darkest places.

3 Comments »

  1. Can’t believe I didn’t leave a comment!
    This is one of my most fave stories….EVER!
    Gorgeous paintings. Did you ever see the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film, Romeo and Juliette. It’s perfect.
    It looks like a painting. The entire movie looks like a painting. I watch it once every couple of years. No one will ever surpass it.

    • I loved that film and yes, the entire movie did look like a painting. I remember seeing it when it first came out. The costumes and settings were extraordinary – elegant and luxurious. I felt I had gone back into time and found that it took a few minutes to adjust to reality once I left the movie theatre. Powerful and unforgettable.

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