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Melancholy and Austere Emotions

by Editor Lourens Durand 
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 15th of April 2022


'Saudade' by Olga Mest


Since the times of Aristotle, “melancholy” has had a bad reputation, and was considered to be a mental disorder encompassing the most depressive and gloomiest of moods caused by excessive Black Bile in the blood. Over the years the perception of melancholy  has changed : now it is considered to be more of a pensive, self-indulgent reflection or longing  involving shades of a mixture of emotions - pleasure and pain, longing and hope - but nowhere near a mental disorder. Even the Oxford dictionary calls it “a feeling of pensive sadness” (but adds “typically with no obvious cause”).

Emily Brady, in Melancholy as an Aesthetic Emotion (Michegan Publishing 2003), wrote that “it involves the pleasure of reflection and contemplation of things we love and long for, so that the hope of having them adds a touch of sweetness that makes melancholy bearable.”

Melancholy involves aesthetic emotions, which may be shared by viewers of art and listeners to music.  These are the emotions that arise when viewing and evaluating a work of art and appreciating the artistic value and beauty within it.

How do we capture this spirit of melancholy and aesthetic emotion in a photograph? Not by showing images that elicit feelings of dejection, depression, mourning, misery and gloom!

We rather need to find and capture the essence of melancholy through scenes that portray:

* Contemplation
* Pensive moments of reflection
* A mysterious smile, maybe
* A dreamy look
* Serenity
* Thoughtfulness
* Nostalgia
* Precious moments
* Clever use of lighting, composition and mood

These and many more are portrayed by photographers, as shown in the selection that follows.

In conclusion, an extract from Auld Lang Syne typifies (for me) the essence of melancholy:

“We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”


'Melancholy' by Antonyus Bunjamin (Abe)



n/t by Suren Manvelyan



'Melancholy' by Steven Zhou



'Melancholy' by Svetlana Melik-Nubarova



'Melancholy in the neighborhood' by João Coelho



'Your eyes' by Dieter Matthes



'Melancholy' by Raluca Arhire



'It's been a long day' by Nicole Wells



'Thought' by Luca Casalenuovo



'take off' by Ambra



'haunted heart' by Calisto



'Melancholic side of a clown' by Birgit Friebel



'Contemplation' by KT Allen



'O.' by Magdalena Russocka



'thoughts' by lisa



'The Bass Player' by Richard Bland



'Pensive' by Katarina Holmström



'melancholy' by Desislava Ignatova



'Farina Tipo 00' by Raphael Guarino


As always, a very careful selection with images to really admire!
Thank you Giorgio
Lavoro eccellente, complimenti
Ella Dong The space, the light, the tone rendered the melancholy into beauty. So awesome!
Excellent work and presentation. I find that the text and images complement each other.
Thanks Francisco. Appreciate your comments.
Great selection!
Thanks Mihai
Fantastic selection of photographic art!
Thanks Ludmila
Absolutely amazing work, congratulations
Thanks Anita.
beautiful work, congratulations!
Thank you Charlaine.
Wonderful and lovely selection of images. Thanks.
Thanks for your comments, Jar.
Excellent curation of a challenging theme , loved The selection
Thanks Shobhit. Much appreciated.
Great works, very nice selection!
Thank you, Thomas.
Wonderful insight. Very enlightening and beautifully sequenced. Well done!
Thanks, Jeff. Appreciate it.
Insightful and lovely selection of images. Thanks Lourens!
Thank you, Wicher. Much appreciated.