Perennial Hope

A perennial hope expressed often as the year turns:  if we work hard, one day all our sorrows will be forgotten as if they had never been…….


Donald Justice, 1925-2004, American


There is a gold light in certain old paintings
That represents a diffusion of sunlight.



The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996, acrylic, oil, polyester resin, paper collage, paper, glitter, map pins on canvas, sitting on two ‘stands’ made of elephant dung. 

Chris Ofili, British born, 1968. MOMA, NY

The little angels flying on the canvas are taken from pornographic magazines showing the buttocks of women.  MOMA, NY




It is like happiness, when we are happy.
It comes from everywhere and nowhere at once, this light,
And the poor soldiers sprawled at the foot of the cross
Share in its charity equally with the cross.





Orpheus hesitated beside the black river.
With so much to look forward to he looked back.
We think he sang then, but the song is lost.
At least he had seen once more the beloved back.




Cosimo 1 de Medici as Orpheus-1

Cosimo I de Medici, Duke of Florence as Orpheus painted in oil on panel

Angelo Bronzini,  1503-1572.  Philadelphia Museum of Art




Eye Body (one of a series), 2005, gelatin silver print. 

Carolee Schneeman, 1939-2019, American.  MOMA, NY



I say the song went this way: O prolong
Now the sorrow if that is all there is to prolong.






The world is very dusty, uncle.***

Let us work.

One day the sickness shall pass from the earth for good.
The orchard will bloom; someone will play the guitar.
Our work will be seen as strong and clean and good.
And all that we suffered through having existed
Shall be forgotten as though it had never existed.





            Botanists taking a core sample from a 350-year old Giant Redwood tree, Redwood National Park, California, 2008


The meadow garden, Mt. Cuba, Hockessin, Delaware, weeded by hand by 3 gardeners. Spring 2015 


Landscape with Figures, 1965-66, egg tempera on gessoed panel.  Private collection

George Tooker, 1920-2011, American


M.D., 1935, colour screenprint. 

Harry Sternberg, 1904-2001, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum

The Surgeon, 1911, crayon and tusche lithograph with scraping. 

John Copley, 1875-1950, English.  Philadelphia Art Museum


Loading Crates, 1959, ink on paper.  Domenico Gnoli, 1933-1970, Italian.  MOMA, NY


 A seller of breadfruit, Old City, Ahmedabad, Gujerat, India, 2010

Flower Vendor, late 1940s, oil on canvas. 

Miguel Covarrubias, 1904-1957.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum of (North) American Art in 2020

Crab fishermen putting away their gear and tackle in the early afternoon of a summer day, 2015,  Leipsic River, Delaware

Carding, spinning, weaving cotton, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2014


Peeling Onions, 1852, oil on canvas

Lily Martin Spencer, 1822-1902, American. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester exhibited in 2015 at the Philadelphia Art Museum.



Hagop Barin, Turkish of Armenian descent, in his shop on Pine Street in Philadelphia, mending a carpet.  Autumn 2020


Apartment Houses, 1923, oil on canvas. 

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Highland Ethiopians pounding seed which, for all the modern equipment they have, prefer to do in the traditional way in which it is done in company, rhythmically, and often singing.

Worker and Machine, 1928, oil on wood.  Hugo Gellert, 1892-1985, American born Hungary. 

Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum of (North) American Art in 2020

The Driller (mural, Rikers Island, NY), tempera on composition board, 1937. 

Harold Lehman, 1919-2006, American.  Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC



 Unemployed, 1940, color screen print

Chet La More, 1908-1980, American.  Published by the Works Progress Administration, Federal Arts Project, New York.  Philadelphia Art Museum

The Photographer, 1942, watercolour, gouache and graphite on paper. 

Jacob Lawrence, 1917-2000, American.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY


West side of Ahmedabad, Gujerat, India, 2010

Shorty Working in the C&R Statuary Corp., 1985, acrylic on plaster.

  Rigoberto Torres, American born 1960.  On loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY by the Museo del Barrio, NY in 2018


A master embroiderer at a tambour of whitework in his studio, Ahmedabad, India, 2010.



Tender, 1993, oil on canvas.

James W. (Bo ) Bartlett, American born 1955. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.



 Maid, nylon, cotton, satin, kapok, human hair, plastic, paint, wood, chair, floor lamp, 1966

Jann Haworth, born 1942, American.  Exhibited at the International POP exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2016 




The Bernheim-Jeune Brothers, 1920, oil on canvas. 

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947, French.  Musee d’Orsay, Paris on loan to MOMA, NY in 2020 

The museum’s guidance is that Gaston and Josse Bernheim took over their father’s gallery business in the early years of the 20th century and represented Pierre Bonnard for more than 30 years.






** Reference to what Sonya says to her uncle Vanya at the end of the play – Uncle Vanya – by Anton Chekhov (1860-1904, Russian).


Sonya’s speech is explicitly from the Christian tradition: she believes that it is after we work and die that God will take pity and we will rest…….






2 thoughts on “Perennial Hope

    1. Every time I go out, especially up to NY, I am astonished at the number of people quietly working: all kinds of people keeping the place afloat! Thanks for looking. Sarah

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