Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Springtime in Italy 1890

In early March of 1890, Levitan went abroad for the first time. For two months he traveled to Berlin, Nice, Menton, Paris, Venice and Florence. How fortunate for us - here he has painted the same vista twice. Remember Pete and Repeat: Can you spot the differences? I'll leave you to it.

Averil King describes these paintings: "...the mountain valley effervescent with the blossoms of fruit trees, while tall snowy peaks loom in the distance." What a good word choice, effervescent, which we might use to describe champagne, soda or spring water. 

Anne Bradstreet was the first female writer in England's North American colonies. Reflecting on winter and spring, she wrote: 

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." 

In the second  image, we might place ourselves along Levitan's life-path to consider our own transitions from personal winter to spring. Sometimes the spring is early; sometimes late. The spring might settle in gradually, with advances and setbacks. I remember my anxiety when, as a young, show-shoveling priest, I saw a robin flying wildly in a  blizzard at night. 

But later I discovered that God's nature-plan provides for that moment: the Hemlocks offer shelter and a hiding place. And when the ground is frozen or covered with snow, the robins resort to sumac until the earth is free and soft again.

Sumac: Emergency Food


  1. Would this mean that the road or path in the second picture is imagined? It seems as though both paintings are from the same perspective so I can only assume that he placed the path there himself for some reason. Or eliminated it from the first. Did he do this often based on what he wanted to portray?

  2. Both paintings are from the same perspective, and he alone knows why he either put the path in or removed it. Both are there to delight us! I can't say if he did this often. I put both paintings up only because I couldn't decide which one to share. "Variety is the spice of life." Blessed Easter to you!

  3. This has been a wonderful journey for us. You have chosen the perfect image to end our path towards Easter Sunday and the Risen Christ. I am sure many others feel that this has been a time of transition for us as we have reflected on the many themes applied to our own lives as we learn to discover God's plan for us. It may seem like a winding path with its ups and downs, but our trust in Jesus will keep us on our way. Blessed Easter!

  4. One more - for tomorrow. Wait till you see! And Blessed Easter to you as well!

  5. I often think that we would not appreciate the spring so much if we didn't have winter. I welcome the change of seasons and the beauty that each on brings to our lives. As much as we complain about the cold and detest shoveling, I cannot imagine living in a place where I couldn't see my kids build a snowman or make snow angels in the fresh powder. No less beautiful than the blooming flowers soon to come. Happy Easter Father!

  6. And Happy Easter to you and your family as well. Thank you for following these posts.

  7. Issac Levitan and his paintings really energized my encounter with lent this year. Your interpretations made it a great Lenten journey. Looking forward to tomorrows post!

  8. A blessing to you on Easter Sunday. See the "Christ is Risen" video on the right side of the blog page.