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Archive for November 28th, 2011

Azilum

This is a new painting that is about 8″ high by 26″ wide on paper.  I call this piece Azilum,  using the French form of asylum or place of refuge.  There is a place not too far from here in Northern Pennsylvania that is called French Azilum, which was formed around the time of the French Revolution as a place where the aristocracy forced to flee the guillotine could find refuge.  While the French Revolution was based very much on our American Revolutionary principles, many members of the aristocracy had helped our cause in many ways, including fighting alongside us,  and when the tide turned at home against them, we offered them a place to which they could escape.

French Azilum was built on 1600 acres of land along the Susquehanna River in Bradford County and was a relatively short lived experiment, pretty much ending when Napoleon offered repatriation for these exiles.  The place was pretty much gone by 1803 as the population disbanded, having left for France and other locations here in the states.  The dream of the French Court regrouping in the Pennsylvania wilderness never really came about.

I don’t know that this piece has any direct connection with French Azilum but the dream of safe haven that it embodies certainly does fit the bill here.  The warmth and intensity of the colors make it very inviting and there is a tangible sense of calm around the central Red Tree.  A very meditative quality, far removed from the dangers and influence of the outside world.  Something that I think was probably hoped for by those exiled Frenchmen in their shangri-la on the Susquehanna back in the day.

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