I wish you all a Happy New Year.
Kant was saying that if God had been willing his human creature be happy, he would not have given him intelligence.
It’s why common sense often adds to New Year wishes: «and above all, a healthy one!». Because happiness is a complicated story while good health is a relatively objective one.
I have also some serious doubts about happiness as a general concept.
But what is clear to me is that precious moments exist.
To mention a few: to learn that a loved one passed an important exam or senior civil servant admission; to discover isolated villages in Southern France; to watch in one go the first series of Downton Abbey; to play till late in the night «7 Wonder» board game with your children; to prepare a chicken with Jura yellow wine and morels; to share a long lunch with a new encounter until a low and pale winter sets on Paris; to renew it; to take time to explore each other’s story, to talk about politics, litterature, history…
To listen to the Vienna New Year’s Concert too (right now!).
Encounters are like wind: some just touch your skin, some others knock you over.
To illustrate these precious moments, nothing better than the eyes and the oriental turban of this Girl with a Pearl Earring.
This oil painting by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis museum since 1902. The original painting is a relatively small one, depicting this European girl wearing an exotic dress and an improbably large pearl earring.
Thanks to the 6 months Dutch presidency of the Council of the European Union, I had to travel to The Hague this year. I managed to escape two hours my professional duties (hopefully, my boss doesn’t read me…) for a precious moment in this amazing museum.
The current collection consists of almost 800 paintings and focuses on Dutch and Flemish artists, such as Pieter Brueghel, Paulus Potter, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacob van Ruisdael, Johannes Vermeer, Rogier van der Weyden …
In 1999, Tracy Chevalier published a historical novel, also entitled Girl with a Pearl Earring, fictionalizing the circumstances of the painting’s creation. In the novel, Johannes Vermeer, living in the city of Delft, near The Hague, becomes close with a fictional servant named Griet (the lovely Scarlett Johansson in the film inspired by the novel), whom he hires as an assistant and then as a painting model.
Some encounters knock you over !
I wish you all, dear followers and friends, a new year plenty of precious moments.
PS : by the way, from February 22 to May 22, 2017, an exhibition called «Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting» will present in Louvre museum, just under the Pyramid, Vermeer’s great masterpieces and those of his contemporaries: if you come to Paris, let me know?
Iconography : Joannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earing, circa 1665, oil on canvas, 44.5 × 39 cm © Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands. Post originally published on LinkedIn.
After working as an international banker for emerging countries, Laurent Lascols became global head of country risk / sovereign risk (from 2008 to 2013) then global director of public affairs (from 2014 to 2019) for Societe Generale. In 2021, he founded Aristote, an advisory firm and training organization dedicated to environmental economics, sustainable finance and impact finance.