the ladies are tramping

I visited the Cloisters with my aunt today; it’s her first time.

We walk into this one gallery where there’s usually the most exquisite display.  I’m not sure who they are and am feeling a bit sodding lazy, so here’s a picture instead of a description:

three ladies

















Well, today the ladies weren’t there.  Just the one.  We walk through the portal and I gasp loudly and cover my mouth in shock. A guard looks at me.  “Where are they? The heads? The women?”

Apparently I’m chuckle-worthy and after pointing out a perfectly visible sign letting us know that two of them are traveling (why not, were I a bust I’d still want to travel), he does a sweep of the room and returns.  Turns out he used to be a night guard.

“Ooh,” I say, since he’s brought up truly the coolest job outside my own, “do people get creeped out by all this living history all around them at night?”

“Nope,” he answers, dashing what another guard elsewhere has told me. “But some people do see things.”

“What things?”

“One guard thought she saw…a ghost.”

“Nice. In the Langon Chapel?” And I describe what I’D imagine there.

He looks at me a moment. “How do you know?”

Because I have all too vivid an imagination, I want to say, but don’t.  Shortly after he walks away again, giving me an odd look.  I spend the rest of our visit trying to look remarkably unsuspicious.  🙂

and then there was one


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. I've worked in international development, social justice and democracy work, and inclusivity training both domestically and overseas. I have served in Peace Corps, where I experienced my first Russian invasion, after which I volunteered with refugees and mentored youth. I vacation climbing minarets and mountains, as well as exploring theaters, museums and parks. Here in New York, I produce short films, direct short plays, and write.
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14 Responses to the ladies are tramping

  1. Beth says:

    What would you imagine being there?

    Your posts never cease to make me smile. 🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      Ha! Thankee 🙂

      Well, I must admit to enjoying museums not only for their beauty but also for the creative inspiration they give. This would be one of those times where I sat and tranced into those sorts of thoughts.

      I could hardly say to the guard that if you scrunch your eyes almost shut, so that all the world comes to you through a haze and a veil of trailing music, you can see anything in a place of history. 🙂 🙂 Imagination be an awesome thing!

      • Beth says:

        I agree–museums offer tons of creative inspiration. When I visit the MFA, I’ll bring either my sketchbook or my writing notebook with me, and just sit and look at paintings or sculpture. Stories are just as common in museums as sketches!

        Gosh, I love imagination. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

        • sputnitsa says:

          SO TRUE. And since you mention it, I read a book recently that I just LOVED and which you may enjoy too. It’s “The Educated Imagination” by Northrop Frye. An incredible, incredible read. I’m already rereading it 🙂 Let me know what you think if you do one day pick it up 🙂

  2. I’ve sorely neglected my museum-going by so far sticking to the grounds at the Cloisters and not going into it. That will change. Love the pics.

    • sputnitsa says:

      Awesome! There’s also a lovely little restaurant on the grounds that actually is really nice as a counterpoint when you check out the museum (full of atmosphere and peace in arches, arcades, statues and greens), walk the grounds and meander to their yummy veggie soups, etc. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it if you do go!! 🙂

  3. sputnitsa says:

    Oh, I’ve used that sculpture book to check up on the ladies. Turns out that the Cloisters usually has four, so one must have been gone all this time. They are bust reliquaries in oak, polychromy and oil gilding from the “South Lowlands, Brabant, Brussels (?)” as per the book, and date from the early 16th century. They are rather gorgeous–each has its own expression and to me they feel like individuals. If you catch them at different angles, their looks shift. Very radiant, very beautiful pieces.

    Apparently they are carved in the round, meaning that they were meant to be seen from all sides. The book suggests that they were meant to be carried in processions as well as kept on the altars dedicated to the saint depicted in the reliquary.

    Just gorgeous 🙂

  4. Beth says:

    I think I know what I’ll be reading over my Christmas break!

  5. ralfast says:

    I can see the attraction. Those ladies sport some very curious expressions.

    I wonder what they are seeing?

  6. I need to read that book, too. 🙂

    My fave museum (thus far) is the Pergamon.

  7. RSA Now says:

    Yes! I want to be a traveling bust when I grow up 😉

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