As the global health crisis continues to heighten, we may be all be looking at spending quite a bit of time at home and indoors in the coming days—or maybe longer.
With New York City instituting a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people and many offices enacting work-from- home policies, that reality is already here for many in the Metropolitan area.
If the idea of not being able to leave the house makes you stir crazy, we’ve put together a selection of artworks to set your mind at ease. Each of these works—some historical, some contemporary—serves as a reminder of the quietly enjoyable ways of passing time of home, such as reading a book, playing board games, and indulging in a midnight snack.
Although it may feel isolating, staying in is at least a sure-fire way to keep from getting sick, or passing the illness on to those who are most vulnerable. Wishing everyone good health—or a speedy recovery—in these trying times.
Pierre Bonnard, Nude in the Bath (1925)
Pierre Bonnard’s muse Marthe bathed to soothe herself during a longstanding illness. You too may want to try a nice long soak in the tub, as in Bonnard’s Nude in the Bath at the Tate in London.
March Avery, Bedtime Story (1989)
This intimate March Avery painting reminds us why it’s always important to read to your kids. (We also couldn’t think of any great paintings of children glued to their iPad.)
Jean Honoré Fragonard, Young Girl Reading (circa 1769)
Find a good book for yourself, like this girl in a Jean Honoré Fragonard painting from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Rosemarie Trockel, Living Means Not Good Enough (2002)
If you’re anything like the subject of this Rosemarie Trockel photograph, we’re guessing you’ve already got quite a backlog of reading material to work through.
Aliza Nisenbaum, La Talaverita, Sunday Morning NY Times (2016)
In these uncertain times, it’s important to stay up to date on current events. But can we suggest curling up with the Sunday Times, rather than the maelstrom that is cable news? These pieces by Aliza Nisenbaum—this one and the one at top—both from last year’s Whitney Biennial, makes a lazy weekend morning at home look practically idyllic.
John Singer Sargent, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882)
The schools aren’t all closed yet, but it seems more and more likely you’ll be home with the kids in no time. Yes, there’s the risk of cabin fever, but hopefully your children will be as poised and serene as the girls in this John Singer Sargent masterpiece at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Shona McAndrew, Asia (2019)
If you’re holing up in your apartment this weekend, consider the freeing possibilities of lounging in your underwear. Another plus side? Easy access to the fridge. Shona McAndrew’s beautifully detailed late-night scene shows a fully-stocked larder—probably belonging to one who braved those shopping market lines before settling in for the long haul.
Marianne Stokes, Candlemas Day (circa 1901)
Many people are turning to prayer as the crisis continues to grow around the world. Time alone at home will provide time with the rosary and the Bible, as in Marianne Stoke’s contemplative Candlemas Day, from the Tate—or reconnect with your own personal faith traditions. There’s also meditation, for those who aren’t religious.
Jan Steen, Woman at Her Toilet (1663)
Like this Jan Steen scene at Buckingham Palace, we’ll all probably lounge around in a state of partial undress, bed unmade and belongings scattered about our increasingly untidy homes.
David Hockney, My Parents (1977)
David Hockney’s famous 1977 canvas of his parents, housed at the Tate in London, presents a quiet domestic moment, a long-married couple enjoying their golden years. It’s also a reminder that we don’t have to wear pajamas and sweatpants the whole time we’re home.
Jordan Casteel, Kimmah (2019)
If you’re focused on comfort, just kick off your shoes and relax, like Kimmah in this Jordan Casteel portrait. (And don’t think about the news.)
Arcmanoro Niles, Bad Kid, It Wasn’t Love (Like My Daddy’s the Devil), 2018
Expect to eat at home for the time being—but mealtime can still be special if you set the table and dine as a family. We love the birthday cake and candles in this depiction of a child in the dining room by Arcmanoro Niles.
Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878)
If you’re going to be bored, at least be comfortable. This Mary Cassatt portrait, also from the National Gallery of Art, is a classic interior scene.
Hilary Pecis, Harper’s Game (2019)
This is a great time to break out board games to fight the inevitable boredom of being cooped up inside. And Hilary Pecis’s cozy painting Harper’s Games is also a reminder, for those of us lucky enough to have a collection, to appreciate our works of art in the home, since we we can’t get out to museums.
Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (1663–64)
The Rijksmuseum’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, one of Johannes Vermeer’s most beautiful works, is a visual love letter to the lost art of mailed correspondence. Maybe we’ll all get good at letter writing—or at least sending nice, thoughtful, personal emails—while we can’t go out to see our friends and family.
Destiny Belgrave, After the Christening (2019)
This delicate cut paper work, a standout at last week’s SPRING/BREAK Art Show, is typical of the work of Destiny Belgrave, who aims to celebrate strong female family bonds in her quiet domestic scenes.
Auguste Renoir, Two Young Girls at the Piano (1892)
If you or a family member or roommate are musically inclined, consider an impromptu singalong or performance. This famous Auguste Renoir canvas, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, speaks to the joys of learning to play the piano.
Nikki Maloof, Separation Anxiety (2018)
And you know who’s always happy to have you at home? Your dogs. We like to imagine this delightful canine in Nikki Maloof’s Separation Anxiety is greeting its returning owner, not knowing they’re about to have way more time together.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Le Lit (In Bed), 1882
And lest we forget, there’s endless pleasure in cuddling up in bed, as perfectly illustrated in this Henri de Toulous-Lautrec painting. Get some rest and stay healthy, everyone!
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