Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Bearded Virgin Mary

Above Engraving of a young, bearded John Singer Sargent, published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine Vol LXXV No 447 (October 1887), p. 68. Compare that with this statement by Pablo Picasso about beards and the generation of ideas, as quoted in Brassai, Picasso and Company. New York: Doubleday, 1966, p. 55—

Ideas are just points of departure. It's rare for me to be able to pinpoint them, just as they came to my mind. As soon as I set to work, others seem to flow from the pen. To know what you want to draw, you have to begin drawing it. If it turns out to be a man, I draw a man—if it's a woman, I draw a woman. There's an old Spanish proverb: "If it has a beard, it's a man; if it doesn't have a beard, it's a woman." Or, in another version, "If it has a beard, it's Saint Joseph; if it doesn't have a beard, it's the Virgin Mary."