intrODuCtiOn
THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
:::
I grieve that grief can teach me nothing . . .
—Emerson, “Experience”
this is a BOOk aBOut the Barnet family of Beverly, Massachusetts. To
be more precise, it is a book containing reproductions of a series of paint-
ings collectively named My Father’s House and a series of essays reflecting
on those paintings.
The paintings illustrate the members of the family in the way that por-
traiture has classically attempted. Yet we need to remember that portrai-
ture itself is a struggle to copy more than the features of a face or a body.
Portraits are copies, models, of the body, of the face. But they are models
that in some ways are designed to tell us more about their subjects than
the subjects themselves might be able to tell otherwise.
These paintings are dramatic; some might even say tragic. In a strange
way the series is a family album. A hope underlying the essays accom-
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