Everyday normalcy, rowing to market, and "Old Woman from Mora"
May 11, 2014
It’s the everyday normalcy about this woman, despite exertion in the midst of rowing, that I love. En route home from a field, perhaps to visit a grandchild, maybe to collect a basket of something useful — I wonder where she heads? Clearly, she is not out for sport. But our heroine rather is navigating the waterways of a country with channels as pedestrian as highways. The talent of the engraver makes the water unquestionably real. Look at the paddle of the oar as it slices from the canal! In the background, a boat full of people contrasts with our protagonist who rows alone. I’ve never tried rowing, let alone for transportation in a cold climate, yet her confident familiarity with the endeavor makes the boat, the oars, the motion look quotidian. This image is taken from an oil panting by Anders Zorn, the Swedish artist who completed this piece “Old Woman from Mora” in 1879. Maybe the image springs from his childhood, for his grandparents raised him on the family farm in Mora. The stamp was etched onto copper plate for reproduction by Arne Wallhorn, one of two eminent engravers responsible for a host of Swedish stamps. Whatever we are striving for, let the effort be as graceful and patient as that depicted here.