The Veil, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1898.
What a lovely painting. I remember in school how the academics turned their noses up at painters like Ingres and Bouguereau. They called Bouguereau overly sentimental. The professors were more in favor of the impressionists and all the major movements to come afterwards.
It's unfortunate when art becomes about doing something different for the sake of novelty. It sort of reminds me of what happened to the Mass, don't you think?
But back to the painting. The painting speaks about light and dark, the white of the veil against the dark greens trees. I'm thinking it appears to be late afternoon on a summer day. There's a certain playfulness in her gesture, as if she is playing peek-a-boo with her veil. It's as if she were peeking out from inside a tent. The tilt of her head and the movement of the hands suggests a certain welcoming to the viewer.
Like a tent: I know some women have told me they felt this way about their veils at the Mass. I have, too. I put on the veil and its purpose is to cover me and direct my focus on the Lord. Somehow these little pieces of lace can do that for us as women. Maybe in part it's because this is the one place we wear them; before the Blessed Sacrament.