Text João Barbosa | Translation Jani Dunne
What does Goya’s painting have to do with wine? Possibly nothing, but it makes a good illustration for a distant reading.
Photograms used to be spared, because each roll of film only had 24 or 36. They weren’t cheap and you had to pay to develop and blow them up and then wait. A bore!
“Oh no, I look horrible in this picture…”
“That’s a shame, it came out blurred.”
Nowadays, we have phones that take photographs, and some do high quality. We take 50 shots “just because”. We photograph food, a faux kiss in a shopping centre. We reinvent self-portraits, now called “selfies”.
Talent for photography wasn’t distributed in a democratic way. Nor was vanity! In the least, our desire to “look good” makes us ask people to take our picture or otherwise we model for ourselves.
Without turning this into a dissertation about the history of photography, the very first photograph was taken around the first quarter of the 19th Century. Technology improved and this art then allowed portraits to become democratic and offered more moments of vanity to those who could pay for it – yes, it was a treat for bourgeois and aristocrats.
Before that, painted portraits took (and take) weeks or months. Posing for the sketch, a few touches here and there, the first layer of paint, waiting for the oil to dry, adjusting, the preferences of those depicted.
Vanity fed many people and I would like to stress how brave the family of Carlos IV of Spain were to maintain Francisco Goya as the royal portrait artist. These Bourbon people were hideous! See how they were painted by this Spanish genius, and the formalities of the almost obscure Alonso de Mendoza.
I was too late when I fell in love with Maria Carolina de Bourbon Duas-Sicílias, based on the painting by Thomas Lawrence. She was 27… she wasn’t a Lolita, although noblewomen seemed younger when compared to folk women of the same age with a harsher lifestyle.
It’s incredible how the Duchess of Berry aged so suddenly. When she was 29, she had the sweet, naïf and blushing look of a young lady from the elite. However, is this the same duchess with whom I fell in love? Beautiful, but going on 30. Mind you, the term “Balzacian” applied to women in their thirties! Bless those creams and quality of life; the Balzacians were over 55.
And what did she look like before 27? Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun painted her… Despite the candid look in her eyes, her peaceful face, and pink cheeks, 26 years old. Did the duchess of Berry only get her butterfly wings at 27?
Where is the truth? Excellent grapes will make good wine. What wine, you ask? One created by an excellent oenologist, who works with the wrinkles and the sad-looking yet real face. One created by an excellent oenologist who hides early double chins and red acne outbreaks.
I would rather see the personality in the wrinkles and to hear the accent of a wine than to have this round and purposefully sweet-toothed perfection. Cameron Diaz wakes up half-asleep, her hair in a mess, in a bad mood, and takes ages to get ready. That’s the wine I want to drink.
That’s what you are talking about when you say the word “terroir“.