Mother-Daughter Trip to the Met

"I have a small daughter called Cleis, who is like a golden flower

I wouldn't take all Croesus' kingdom with love thrown in, for her."

--Sappho

Nell was intrigued by this marble statue of the poet, "Sappho," by Comte Prosper D'Epinay.  (1895)

On Saturday, I took my daughter Nell to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This trip was in honor of our birthdays.  (Nell turned 9 on Monday, and I turned 35 yesterday, so we are birthday-buddies.)  Back in April, I asked Nell if she would rather have a party, or go on a trip to New York City, and visit the Met.  And she chose the art museum!

We walked to the bus station in Easton, and had a pleasant ride into the city.  Nell could hardly sit still, she was so excited!

It was my first time figuring out how to use the subway system on my own, but it wasn't so hard.  We took the S-train from Port Authority to Grand Central Station.  Then we caught the 6 train uptown to 86th street.  I got us to the Met in one piece!  

We can't wait to go inside!

We went in, and were happily overwhelmed by the vast grandeur, the holy spaciousness of all the art.  It was Nell's first time, and she flew around the museum like a little bird, perching here and there to look at a painting or a sculpture and then flying off again.  It wasn't my first time.  I could remember going on a high school field trip.  I wanted to show Nell a painting I remembered from that field trip:  Joan of Arc.

Here we are, standing in front of "Joan of Arc," a huge painting by Jules Bastien-Lepage (1879).  Nell really liked it.  

I remember how I felt the first time I saw this painting, when I was about sixteen.  I remember looking at her face, burning with the intensity of her inner voices, and I felt  my heart pounding in my chest.  My breath caught in my throat, and my imagination became entangled in the branches of the primordial forest all around her.  I didn't even notice, at that time, the translucent figures of the saints floating behind her, whispering to her.

When I saw this painting on Saturday, almost twenty years (!) later, I was disappointed that I didn't have that same intense reaction.  I admired the painting, of course, but more than that, I was mourning the emotions of my youth, which had passed away.  

The artist Fay Ku writes about having a similar experience in her essay about this painting, found on a really great blog, "Painters on Painting."  It's worth reading!

Nell took this picture of me looking at one of my favorite sculptures, "Cupid and Psyche" by Rodin.  The myth of Cupid and Psyche has been my favorite ever since I first read it as a young girl.  The God of Love falls for a human woman, brings her back from the dead, and transforms her into the Goddess of the Soul.  They have a child, a little girl, whom they call Joy.

 Another sculpture of Cupid and Psyche, by Antonio Canova.

Another sculpture of Cupid and Psyche, by Antonio Canova.

My sister Karen, her husband Carl, and their new little baby Natalie met us in the museum!  Carl took a picture of Nell and me in front of this painting.  I forgot to write down the title or the artist. You can see Nell is starting to look a little tired after a few hours in the Met! 

Nell was very tired, so we started to leave, but we still had to walk down many hallways.  All at once, Nell veered off into another room; a certain painting had caught her eye.

It was one of Monet's water lily paintings!  She looked at it for a long time!

Eventually, we did manage to exit, after quite a lengthy detour in the gift shop.

Uncle Carl took a picture of Nell, Aunt Karen, cousin Natalie, and me.  We are happily tired after a long day looking at art and walking a lot.  Or, just being carried a lot, in baby Natalie's case.

Uncle Carl treated us to hot chocolate and coffee after our museum adventure.

On the bus ride home we cuddled, read a book, and drew pictures in my notebook.  We were exhausted and happy.  I had such a wonderful day with my daughter.  I feel so lucky to be her mom, and I hope we can enjoy many more happy adventures together.

Sleep, darling

I have a small

daughter called

Cleis, who is

like a golden

flower

I wouldn't

take all Croesus' 

kingdom with love

thrown in, for her

 

Sappho