Views: 1162

Chapter 4: self: Mood

Melancholy Beauty

There are many types of beauty but at certain periods of history some major possibilities get neglected.

Our age is prone to overlook one of the central sources of physical allure: Melancholy Beauty, a species of attractiveness that goes beneath today’s radar because we’re dominated by the idea that to attract the world, we have to exude good cheer.

But consider some of the following:


Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1477: when people are melancholic, a smile or laugh carries so much more weight.



Hans Memling, Diptych of Maarten Nieuwenhove, 1487: We could be honest about our anxieties and fears.


Léa Seydoux, Venice Intl Film Festival, 2009

Léa Seydoux: She’s understood certain truths; she won’t be naive.


Chanel: Front Row - Paris Fashion Week Haute-Couture F/W 2013-2014

Kristen Stewart: Fake smiles don’t come easily. It’s a sign one could trust any real ones that came along.



Natalie Merchant: We’d understand the anxious parts of her; and she the anxious parts of us.



Giovanni Bellini, Mary Magdalene, 1490: There is so much not to be shallow about.

The task of culture is to turn rage and jolliness into melancholy.

The more melancholy a culture can be, the less its individual members need to be persecuted by their own failures, lost illusions and regrets.

Melancholy – when it can be shared – is the beginning of friendship.