You didn’t even know there was an art museum here at the old factory space, but hey it was First Fridays and you already had a couple good local Octoberfest brews in your belly, so why not. It is the sort of thing little Henry would have loved if he were still around.
‘The Lost Apprentice’
You thought it was a terrible name for an exhibit, a bit like someone was trying too hard to stay edgy with renaissance art. A small stand with guide pamphlets beckoned to you after entering. Skimming over you started to get the gist, and then the hair on the back of your neck started to stand up. Casting a furtive glance around a large portrait seemed to draw you in. The figure’s eyes bored right into you. Honestly you weren’t sure how long you had been standing there before your petrified stare caught the attention of the exhibit curator.
He sidled up next to you and joined your gaze. “Beautiful work isn’t it, this piece is one of my favorites of the whole exhibit. The piercing stare is captivating, as is the delicate and detailed brush strokes.”
Since you had his attention you asked for the paintings provenance.
“This one is an enigma just like the rest of the pieces in the exhibit. We’ve had forensic historians examine them all and the consensus is they were all painted by an apprentice to one of the great masters between 1580 and 1625 or so. They were discovered in a hidden chamber below the cellar of a gothic cathedral in Rome.” The curator continued to ramble on about the find and the stir in the academic community. It all started to fade away into noise for you though, you were caught up in the painting again.
What is it about this woman. And then it strikes you, the hair, it’s down but you keep yours up. Undoing your ponytail you let down your hair. The curator stops mid-sentence. His eyes grow wide and his mouth drops open. He faints and crumples into a heap on the floor. Everyone in the gallery turns to look at the commotion.
But they can only see you standing before the painting. A few gasps escape from the crowd, and the subtle drone of many whispered comments. You can see peoples’ darting between you and the painting. Wheeling around it finally come to the realization that overtook the curator. This portrait doesn’t just look like you. It is you.
You quickly flip through the pamphlet to find the piece. The title punches you in the chest. ‘Mother’