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John Everett Millais – Order of release

This painting has always haunted me. The composition is perfectly arranged, the lines all meet at the right point. Such a careful crafted composition drives the viewer into the story, makes it impossible to look away.

Golden gnomon in Order of release

Here there is a juxtaposition of the golden gnomon (“obtuse isosceles triangle in which the ratio of the length of the equal  sides to the length of the third side is the reciprocal of the golden ratio”, thanks wikipedia) and the painting in question. I am certain Millais didn’t have the golden triangle in mind when he painted this, I just instinctively associated the two things. Mathematics, after all, is another art form.

I have always wondered what the story behind was: this Jacobine Highlander is saved by his wife, who gives the order of release of the title to the guard, while holding her child and supporting her wounded husband. No doubt she is in charge, the focal point of the painting, the heroine. None of the men look at her, the guard bowing his head, the husband hiding in her neck. Previous commenters have argued that she exchanged sexual favors for her husband’s freedom, but if she did she is certainly not ashamed. She is a mystery to me, her serene expression, her bare feet, her composure.

The secrets of the stars,—gravitation.
The secret of the earth,—layers of rock.
The secret of the soil,—to receive seed.
The secret of the seed,—the germ.
The secret of man,—the sower.
The secret of woman,—the soil.
My secret: Under a mound that you shall never find.

Mrs. Sibley – Edgar Lee Masters.

Dino Valls

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.”
Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You

I truly believe this. People are made of secrets.