Harmonious Blacksmith
I once read how zebras escape the attack of a lion. They quickly regroup themselves while running so as to form one shape; their black and white stripes can then no longer be traced to the individual animal. The lion's eye keeps scanning the image but cannot grasp it.

In the Rijksmuseum I saw a painting by Gabriël Metsu: A Cavalier Visiting a Blacksmith's Shop. As happens more often when I am confronted with a painting from the Dutch 17th century, this work, too, struck a familiar chord while at the same time giving me the sense of entering unknown territory. The image took a while to reveal itself. In the first instance I distinguished only dark colours interspersed with a few lighter shapes. Gradually, from this obscure field a picture emerged that may be summarized as: 'a man holding his horse by the rein enters the workshop of a blacksmith'. A down to earth, seemingly straightforward picture.

The first impression however remains: I still perceive the painting as a whole made up of fragments that shift in shape and colour, thus continually creating a new overall image. This impact is stronger than my inclination to fit the fragments into familiar categories: hammer, table, arm, anvil. Metsu's painting will not be fixated. It dissolves into shapes, from which the drawings of Harmonious Blacksmith have evolved.
DB