Years ago, on Shabbos evenings, when our children were little, I would frequently grab an art book, sit in my chair, and one of the kids would climb into my lap. We’d turn the pages, look at the pictures, and make up stories about the figures in the paintings.
Ariel, Z’TL, was intrigued by the Dutch painters of the Seventeenth Century: Jan Steen, Peter de Hooch, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. Offspring #2 and #3, girls, inclined to the High Italian Renaissance: Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Da Vinci, and Michelangelo.
One memorable night, I opened a book devoted to the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci.
Offspring #2 was about 5 years old at the time, and after leafing through a few pages, she grew bored. She wanted lush colors, luminous light, and dramatic figures in mysterious landscapes. Leonardo’s drawings were too stark, too black and white. And Leonardo’s anatomy drawings… totally gross.
Then I turned to Leonardo’s four sketches for the head of Leda.
Offspring #2 nearly fell off my lap.
“Look at her hair, daddy!”
“How come it’s like that?”
“Da Vinci is telling us that this woman is special, her hair is like a crown.”
“Like a princess?”
Over the years, I have returned again and again to Leonardo’s Leda. Her hair is a Hollywood dream — before Hollywood dreamers existed. But Leonardo’s genius eventually found its modern equivalent in Hollywood’s greatest hairdresser, Sydney Guilaroff (1907 – 1997), born in London to poor Jewish immigrants from the Russian Pale of Settlement, and who eventually settled in Canada.
Guilaroff was chief hairdresser at MGM for over fifty years, during which time this modest and hugely talented man, styled, and was confidant to, every major female star in Hollywood.
That is a lot of very high maintenance women.
Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a lovely and inspirational Shabbat.