"To be in love with a painting—to cry...you need to be able to believe a painting can be alive:
not literally, but moment by moment in your imagination."
--James Elkins, Pictures and Tears
A couple of years ago I read a book by James Elkins called Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings. Actually, I really only read about half of it, because I personally found it to be tedious and boring. (I should give it another chance, though. Sometimes my judgement is clouded by my whims.)
Even though I didn't get into the book itself, I just loved the title and the concept. I felt completely captivated by the idea of people standing in front of paintings all over the world, being moved to tears.
I myself have been moved by many paintings, but brought to tears only by one:
I haven't seen this painting in real life, but only in a book. Specifically, what moved me was the look in man's eyes. To me, it is the most tender, most loving, and also the most heart-breaking expression.
In her wonderful book, Meditations, Sister Wendy (the famous, quirky, art-loving nun) writes about this painting:
"We know at once that they love each other. Each gives love and receives it. Love is supremely beautiful, but like the golden chain the man has placed around the neck of his beloved, it also binds. Each is surrendering freedom, but willingly so, thus facing the truth that we cannot have everything; if we love, we make a choice. They do not even need to look into each other's eyes. Rather, they ponder with wonder, the implications of their blessedness and the meaning of total commitment."
April 2018 Update: Here's another painting that has made me cry, by Masaccio.
Has a painting ever made you cry?
Tell me about it in the comments below!