Seraphine is the true story, set in the early 1900s, of Seraphine Louis aka Séraphine de Senlis (played in the movie by Yolande Moreau), who worked as a maid, and was, to all appearances, a devout Catholic. Though she was not slim, pretty, or educated, in addition to her housekeeping duties, which were shown in the movie to be sometimes onerous, she took up painting as a sideline. She claimed her guardian angel told her to paint.
Self-taught at the age of 41, Séraphine started with small, crude, pictures of flowers, and first with homemade, then, with stolen art supplies, she produced pictures of increasing technical sophistication and aesthetic quality. Eventually, circa 1912, she started to produce bold and colorful canvases being in possession of better materials and studio space as a result of the financial and social support of Wilhelm Uhde (Ulrich Tukur), a German art critic and collector, then living in Senlis outside Paris.
But there was trouble in paradise. Early in her painting career, a group of nuns comes to visit her small rented room. They treat her well, but with an informality rarely seen between nuns and ordinary laypeople. They actually share a meal. It turns out that she had previously worked for the convent, and one of the nuns significantly touched Séraphine’s forehead and asked if she was all right “in there”, hinting at depression or anxiety previously in evidence while she had worked for them. Séraphine admitted to overwork and what is now known by the name of stress.
Whether or not stress precipitated Séraphine’s later acts which seemed to indicate mental instability, is not clearly portrayed, but it is hinted at.
Serephine’s devoutness took a seemingly psychologically unhealthy turn, but because certain aspects of Catholicism dovetail with symptoms the secular world considers those of mental illness, it is not immediately recognizable as such by a largely Catholic population.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply