Symbolism Sunday: Drapery

November 14, 2010

The Drapery in Neoclassical ArtThis one is cheating a little, but it is a Sunday and you should be relaxing or collecting on a Sunday (pretty sure that’s in the bible somewhere), but drapery on an object in mourning is an important thing to look out for in any form of funerary art of jewellery.

It’s one of the symbols that can define a piece as being clearly mourning, rather than being for sentimental purposes. How so? For starters, a pre-existing photograph is simply a keepsake, however post-mortem, drapery over the photograph or portrait with a black curtain would introduce the sentiment of mourning. It’s really quite simple. Another example may be drapery across an unbroken column. The column is usually broken, symbolising life cut short, however, with the drapery over the top of the column, it masks the strength of the unbroken intent and creates the mourning pall across it. From draping/covering the body upon death, the symbolism of the covering as a curtain closing on the life is simple and rich.

Drapery isn’t a Victorian invention, but rather an ancient one, having strong roots in Hellenistic / Classical Greek art quite notable for mourning are various funerary stele depicting drapery across. However, one shouldn’t consider basic drapery as being a sign of mourning across all art, it is specific to its subject, rather than just being an artistic practice of style and technique. Always judge the drapery across the object or symbol for its purpose, otherwise a charming depiction of someone reclining could turn into something slightly more morbid.

Ok, that was simple! I wonder what there will be next week…

Previously on Symbolism Sunday:

The Acorn

The Male

The Woman

The Three Graces

Faith, Hope and Charity

The Clover

The Willow

The Column

The Hourglass

The Serpent

The Dove

The Dog

The Angel

The Marigold / Lily

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