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Penelope at her Loom

 

 

A slow fashion story : )  When I first started HERLOOM, I sent my friends this painting joking that Penelope didn’t look as excited about HER LOOM as I was.

 

What I did not share was the significance of the work. The subject is Penelope, wife of Odysseus, the main character in the ancient Greek epic poem The Odyssey by Homer. It took Odysseus 10 years to return home from the 10 year Trojan War. Most were convinced that he was not going to return and thought Penelope should remarry. She had many suitors. But she loved Odysseus and did not want to marry anyone else. So she bought herself some time by claiming she would marry when she was done weaving the cloth for her father-in-law’s burial shroud. Unbeknownst to everyone, at night she would unravel the cloth that she wove that day. She made very little progress and succeeded in staying single until her husband came home.

 

Many works of art have portrayed Penelope at HER LOOM. By far my favorite (partly because of the priceless expression) is this one painted in 1764 by Angelica Kauffman, a noted portraitist, founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts and strong woman like her subject Penelope.  Some day if your travels take you to The Royal Pavilion, Libraries and Museums in Brighton, England, you can view the real painting.

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