|HvS, "Madonna and Child", image|
posted by permission of the artist's
estate (c/o Boissevain Books LLC).
The wooden sculpture was a gift of John Dowling, who was a dentist in Dublin with a large family. Mom was close to both John and his wife Joan. She went with Joan to Lourdes because Joan was seriously ill.
We used to go to John Dowling for dental work when we were in Dublin during the years 1951 to 1954 (in 1954-55 we were in Sceaux, outside of Paris on the Ligne de Sceaux).
As a father himself, Dr. Dowling had a way of making sure that children paid attention to his instructions on keeping your head steady and so forth. In my case he painted a scary picture of what might happen if I failed to follow his instructions. I hasten to say that Dr. Dowling might well have been justified in taking this approach with me.
John Dowling was one of the people that Mom knew from her days as an art student in Dublin and she still had a soft spot for him and he knew it.
She was bowled over by the statue. Being eight or nine years old, and remembering Dr. Dowling as a terrorizing dentist, I recollect saying something critical about the sculpture that made Mom furious (see previous paragraph for background). I have a sense that my criticism of the statue may have prompted the painting. What better way for her to telegraph her appreciation for the statue than to do a painting of it?
Anyway, stories about paintings raise their value, so this long epic about it might help the gallery sell the painting for a decent price. It is up for auction in Dublin at Adam's and is posted on Invaluable Auctions as well as AskArt.
My sister Brigid confirms that Mom was emotionally vested in the statue. She writes:
That statue is memorable to me because the day before my wedding [in Montreal, June 27, 1957] Daddy had cleared the house [419 Lansdowne Avenue, just above Sherbrooke St.] ready for the wedding party, and Mother couldn't find her statue and went shouting around the house in a fury, thinking Dad had destroyed it. I finally found it in the big Dutch press, but Mother took a long time to simmer down.(I have that big Dutch press. The Dutch designed it so it could be brought upstairs in the narrow Amsterdam houses piece by piece, and assembled in the room.)
This blog is sponsored by Boissevain Books, which publishes books by Hilda van Stockum. To buy a book and support keeping her work alive, go to www.boissevainbooks.com.