Essay on Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Essay on Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Length: 2462 words (7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Overview

In eight quasi-connected stories, Susan Vreeland delivers a fictional lesson on aesthetics. Set amidst human sorrow and historic chaos, the narrative follows an imagined Vermeer painting from the present day through 330 years of its provenance--beginning with its willful destruction in the 1990s and concluding with its inspired creation in the 1660s:

Chapter 1. 1995(?): in Pennsylvania, math teacher Cornelius Englebrecht burns the painting in his fireplace; 1942: in Amsterdam, from the Vredenburg home, German soldier Otto Engelbrecht loots the painting, hides it, and absconds with it to America.
Chapter 2. 1940: in Amsterdam, diamond merchant Sol Vredenburg buys the painting for his daughter Hannah as a gift for her 11th birthday.

Chapter 3. 1899: in Vreeland, engineer Laurens van Luyken, having originally purchased the picture as an anniversary gift for his wife, decides to give it to his daughter Johanna, engaged to the Amsterdamer Fritz.

Chapter 4. 1803: in The Hague, French aristocrat Gerard buys the painting from a Dutch noble; wife Claudine absconds with and sells it, without the documents attesting to its authenticity.

Chapter 5. 1717-18: from the floodwaters of Delfzijl, scholar Adriaan Kuypers flees with the painting to Oling where he relinquishes it to the farmer's wife, Saskia, who sells it to a dealer in Amsterdam.

Chapter 6. 1717: in Delfzijl, Aunt Rika, wife of a slave trader, offers the painting as a bribe to her nephew Adriaan to hide the evidence of his bastard child and keep her name respectable.

Chapter 7. 1665-8: in Delft, Vermeer begins and completes the painting of his daughter Magdelena.

Chapter 8. 1675: in Delft, Vermeer dies, and after his death his daughter Magdelena sells the painting to the local baker; later, in Amsterdam in 1696, Magdelena observes a "nice family" buying the painting at auction.

Topics For Discussion

1. The plot summary reveals that much of the picture's provenance remains unknown. Why do you think Vreeland leaves blank so much of the picture's history? Where do you imagine the painting was, say, between 1803 and 1890? Why do you think Vreeland places the painting in periods of history reflecting so many atrocities? What would have been gained--or lost--from this novel had the author placed the picture in more heroic moments of hu...


... middle of paper ...


... art is very self- rewarding and gives a great sense of accomplishment. Monetarily speaking, an artist such as Vermeer must paint in order to make a living and support his family of 11 children, “And there were other debts.” (pg. 209) Overall, the book describes the soul purpose of art to provide love, sorrow, warmth, depth and happiness to the soul and heart. The monetary wing is also very important because many of the owners had to sell the painting; no matter how much they treasured the painting, they still had to sell it because of monetary problems to keep them on their “feet.”

Elevated feelings toward emotional values may be difficult to let go of. Susan Vreeland’s ravishing novel reveals the true owner, tracing proprietors from the present to the past. The painting symbolizes something that each owner is missing in his or her life, whether it was personally or monetarily. Vermeer’s painting had a great affect on all the owners because something was missing in his or her life and the painting filled that hole. The last thing humanity would want to do, is let away fragments of their life for monetary reasons. Personal emotions are stronger than monetary rationalizations.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Girl Of Hyacinth Blue By Susan Vreeland Essay

- The Many Marked Lives In the novel Girl in Hyacinth Blue, the author, Susan Vreeland tells many stories about different people who all share one thing in common, the admiration for one painting. These stories follow a painting through time, but in a reverse chronological order. The beginning starts out in present time, and the end of the book takes place when the painting is being made. The significance of this painting is that it has changed every person’s life that it has been owned by. The many different characters seem obsessed over it and become changed after first encountering it....   [tags: Marriage, Arranged marriage, Family]

Powerful Essays
1817 words (5.2 pages)

Diana Vreeland's Life and Accomplishments Essays

- People always ask me who my favorite designer is. I always find it to be a pretty impossible question. How can you choose between someone like Alexander McQueen and Channel, or what about the clothes I wear every day. I do not even know who designs most of those. I feel like there are too many designers with vastly different ascetics, yet, they are still so breathtakingly impeccable. So now, I choose Diana Vreeland. Although she did not design clothing, nearly her whole life was spent creating beauty and interest with a taste level that hit the sky....   [tags: designer, coco channel, fashion]

Powerful Essays
2042 words (5.8 pages)

Nature and Procreation in Blue Highways Essay

- Nature and Procreation in Blue Highways In the book of a rustic American journey, Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon continually characterizes the land he travels with simple, natural references. Least Heat Moon repeatedly gives the nature he discovers on his journey very fertile, prolific qualities. The essays often contains vivid physical descriptions of the environment, particularly its natural beauty. Least Heat Moon ponders human existence and its interference with the environment....   [tags: Blue Highways]

Powerful Essays
562 words (1.6 pages)

Forgotten People of the Blue Highways Essay

- Forgotten People of the Blue Highways Journeying along the back roads of the blue highways of the road maps, William Least Heat Moon discovers the forgotten people of America in Blue Highways. In the beginning, his trip seems to be motivated by anger and disillusion. But when readers look deeper into the story, they see that Least Heat Moon focuses the attention on how to "climb out of a world which he realized was impersonal and materialistic" (Lyons 63). By avoiding the large cities, he focuses his attention on the forgotten civilizations....   [tags: Blue Highways]

Powerful Essays
639 words (1.8 pages)

Heritage of Blue Highways Essay

- Heritage of Blue Highways In the country travelers' Bible, Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon takes a journey into his Native American heritage as well as into the heart of American culture. As a person of mixed ancestry, Least Heat Moon wishes to seek the history and experiences of his past in his travels. He is especially interested in the Native American element of his heritage because he had no knowledge of his ancestry as he was growing up. At the point at which he begins his journey, after being a student and scholar of Renaissance literature, Least Heat Moon is able to identify more freely with his past ("Whispers..." 58-60)....   [tags: Blue Highways]

Powerful Essays
811 words (2.3 pages)

The Blue Hotel Essay

- The Blue Hotel As a recently published book on the works of Stephen Crane, it is rather disappointing to see some of the key moments left out of Stanley Wertheim's criticism in A Stephen Crane Encyclopedia about the short story "The Blue Hotel." Wertheim leaves out a key point in the characterization of the Swede and the plot of the story. This occurs at the point where Patrick Scully, in the story, persuades the Swede to stay in his hotel despite his fears and inhibitions about the Wild West by getting him to drink and not to worry....   [tags: Blue Hotel Essays]

Free Essays
342 words (1 pages)

Coming Full Circle in Blue Highways Essay

- In his traveling diary, Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon takes a trip to various destinations of unknown worth. His American back roads tour is characterized by the pattern of taking a journey that follows a circle. Least Heat Moon's circular journey is both literal and spiritual. His travels circle the nation, and he gathers history and personality from all corners of America. More importantly, however, Least Heat Moon sets out to fully explore and find himself. He provides the audience with the simple explanation of the circular nature of his journey because "following a circle would give a purpose&emdash;to come around again&emdash;where taking a line would not"(Le...   [tags: Blue Highways]

Powerful Essays
644 words (1.8 pages)

Intuition in Susan Jacoby's Unfair Game Essay

- "Few of us have vitality enough to make any of our instincts imperious."-George Bernard Shaw. I believe Shaw was correct in saying you have to make an effort to listen to your intuitions. These days, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to guarding your life, but people can take this a little too far by letting their own naïve, discriminating, and generalized ideas develop negatively in their heads. Race and gender are the singled out subjects that we let influence our culture's freedoms because of media, family and friend's twisted views, or a bad experience....   [tags: Susan Jacoby]

Free Essays
1263 words (3.6 pages)

The Symbolic Naturalist of The Blue Hotel Essay

- The Symbolic Naturalist of The Blue Hotel   This essay considers the perspective of James Trammell Cox as presented in his essay: An Analysis of the Blue Hotel   Cox begins his essay by discussing naturalism and Crane's fictional style. He suggests that Crane's technique "is that of the symbolist rather than the naturalist in that he carefully selects his details not as pieces of evidence in a one-dimensional report on man but as connotatively associated parts of an elaborately contrived symbolic structure." Basically the thrust of Cox's argument is centered around the degree to which Crane displays the characteristics of a naturalist writer....   [tags: Blue Hotel Essays]

Free Essays
416 words (1.2 pages)

Fear in Crane's The Blue Hotel Essay

- Fear in Crane's The Blue Hotel Stephen Crane's "The Blue Hotel" is, according to Daniel Weiss, "an intensive study of fear." The story uses a game to show how fear unravels itself. He also discusses inner fears as opposed to fears existing in reality, and the ways that they bring each other about in this short story. Weiss begins by pointing out how Crane used the stereotypical 1890's American West as his setting. The Swede comes to the Blues Hotel with the assumption that he will witness, if not be involved in, robberies and murders....   [tags: Blue Hotel Essays]

Free Essays
540 words (1.5 pages)