All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.
I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?…
– Christina Rossetti
The painting at the top, I Lock My Door Upon Myself, is from Belgian Symbolist painter Fernand Khnopff who lived from 1858 until 1921. The title is taken from a verse of a poem, Who Shall Deliver Me? (shown in part above), from Christina Rossetti, the pre-Raphaelite poetess whose brother, Dante Rossetti, was an influence on the work of Khnopff.
It’s a haunting painting, one that always makes me stop a bit when I stumble across an image of it. Perhaps it is the symbolist elements in it but for me it is probably the beautiful construction of forms and color that give the overall piece an almost abstract feel. Just a great image in so many ways.
I came across a video from the free educational series Khan Academy that offers a short and insightful exploration of the painting’s symbolism. Very interesting if you have five minutes or so.