Calm seas in art and reflections on life

by | Aug 15, 2020 | Art, Philosophy

They say a vaccine will vanquish the coronavirus. Maybe so, but the war against this invisible enemy will be won, not by the tools of science alone, but by the strength and resilience of the human spirit. The following works of art and accompanying quotes highlight the importance of inner peace in these troubled times. I hope they provide inspiration to those who are feeling distressed and perhaps even hopeless because of the pandemic.

See also: ‘Lighthouse photographs and reflections on life’

Gondolier at Sea by Night, 1843
Ivan Aivazovsky (Russian, 1817 – 1900)
Image courtesy of Wikiart: Visual Art Encyclopedia

‘Speech is of time, silence is of eternity.’ ~ Thomas Carlyle, from Sartor Resartus (1833–1834)

Brace’s Rock, Eastern Point, Gloucester, ca. 1864
Fitz Henry Lane (American, 1804 – 1865)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

‘Agitation triumphs over the cold.
Stillness triumphs over the heated.
Clarity and stillness bring order to the world.’

~ from The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, English translation by R. L. Wing (1986)

Kalme zee, 1860–1900
Hendrik Willem Mesdag (Dutch, 1831 – 1915)
Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

‘I want to calm down, to rest, to outlive this nonsense.’ ~ Anne Sexton, from a letter to Brother Dennis Farrell (1962)

Marine Study, 1860–1900
Franklin Dullin Briscoe (American, 1844–1903)
Image courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum

‘I take it that what all men are really after is some form or perhaps only some formula of peace.’ ~ Joseph Conrad, from Under Western Eyes (1911)

The Calm Sea, 1869
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877)
Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

‘The center of every man’s existence is a dream. Death, disease, insanity, are merely material accidents, like toothache or a twisted ankle. That these brutal forces always besiege and often capture the citadel does not prove that they are the citadel.’ ~ G. K. Chesterton, from Twelve Types (1903)

Night in Shinagawa, 1922
Negoro Raizan (Japanese, 1880–1963)
Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

‘True peace of mind comes from accepting the worst.’ ~ Lin Yutang, from The Importance of Living (1937)

Seascape, undates
Willy Hamacher (German, 1865–1909)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

‘Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from Evangeline (1847)

Village by the Sea in Brittany, ca. 1880
Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916)
Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

‘The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress.’ ~ Confucius, from The Analects (206 BC–220 AD)

Nocturne: Blue and Gold—Southampton Water, 1872
James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903)
Image courtesy of the Art Institue of Chicago

Take heed of still waters, they quick pass away.’ ~ George Herbert, from Jacula Prudentum (1651)

Full Moon at Kanazawa, Province of Musashi, Edo period (1615–1868)
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

‘Let man then contemplate the whole of nature in her full and grand majesty, and turn his vision from the low objects which surround him. Let him gaze on that brilliant light, set like an eternal lamp to illumine the universe; let the earth appear to him a point in comparison with the vast circle described by the sun; and let him wonder at the fact that this vast circle is itself but a very fine point in comparison with that described by the stars in their revolution round the firmament.’  ~ Blaise Pascal, from Pensées (1669)

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