Monday, August 6, 2012

This sculpture, by Hendrik de Keyser c. 1615, has recently been acquired by the Rijksmuseum, gifted by an anonymous donor.

The piece, carved in wood, depicts a screaming child being stung by a bee on his forehead. It also refers to the story of Cupid, the god of love, who was chased and stung by a bee having stolen honey from the beehive.

The sculpture may thus be a parable on love, sweet as honey, yet also profoundly painful. For me, however, the power of the work lies not in allegory, but in its extreme, almost distressing expressiveness.

It is challenging to stay with the piercing gaze of the suffering child who isĀ agonised by his experience, such is the exquisite realism of the emotions encapsulated by de Keyser.