Let me be frank. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it happen more than once. Someone moved to tears by a painting? Yeah, right! But it’s true. Lucretia, depicting a bleeding, heartbroken, dying figure, is obviously a tearjerker. We’re seeing it in the galleries quite frequently. One visitor’s sobs prompted a guard to ask if she needed assistance; another’s pacing in front of the painting was sad and intense; a pair of women in conversation on a nearby bench, tearful, emotional. I’m a guy. Honestly, I don’t get it. However, I do get that the ability to pull powerful emotions with strokes of a paintbrush is real genius.
John Knox is the Director of Operations for the NCMA.
Image above: Rembrandt van Rijn, Lucretia, 1666, oil on canvas, 43 3/8 x 36 3/8 in., Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund, 34.19