Elizabeth Bishop


Merida from the Roof
    This view of Merida is the jacket illustration for The Complete Poems: 1927-1979.  ("The branches of the date-palms look like files.") (Benton, 26-27) 
    The inscription reads: For Lota: /Longer than Alladin's burns, /Love, & many Happy Returns /March 16th, 1952 / Elizabeth.   From a prominent Brazilian family, Lota (Maria Carlota Costellat de Macedo Soares) was Bishop's lover from 1952 until her suicide in 1967,  This painting, with its implication of wishes granted and darkness banished (and its pun on "touching"), dates from their first year together.  (Benton, 60-61) 
    --Anjinhos (angels) was inspired by the drowning of a young girl in Rio de Janeiro.  Both it and, to a lesser extent, Feather Box recall the work of Joseph Cornell--his "Monuments to every moment," as Bishop translates the phrase, in her version of Octavio Paz's poem "Objects & Apparitions." (Benton, 50-51)
Red Stove and Flowers
    The inscription reads: May the Future's Happy Hours /Bring you Beans & Rice & Flowers / April 27th, 1955 / Elizabeth. 
    This is one of the very few pictures composed as an explicit symbolic statement.  It contains a poem--and a formula of proportion--for domestic balance.  The stove is "magic"; and against a wall of blackness, the aggregate white voices an impassioned reassurance.  All underlined by one of her specialties: wood grain.  (Benton, 66-67)
from Benton, William, ed with an introd.  Elizabeth Bishop: Paintings.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1966,