Art: Now More than Ever

In this time of crisis and isolation, the role of art becomes more central to our lives, whether we realize it or not. …momentary joys, even in dire circumstances, often come through the arts and collective expression.”

– Louis Netter, teacher, illustrator, lecturer

I feel that art is one of the greatest expressions of the human spirit. A home is not complete without it. Oils, watercolors, monoprints, numbered prints, photographs, posters, sculpture, textiles, ceramics and crafts of all kinds – all qualify as art. Whether you find it in an exotic location halfway around the world, discover it peeking through an assortment of discarded artifacts, or make it yourself, art makes us happy and touches each of us uniquely.

I keep being reminded of this as Marshall and I continue to pack up our house in preparation for its major remodel. Today we wistfully wrapped up one of our most beloved pieces. I say wistfully because we are not sure when we will see it again. But it allowed us to rekindle the story of how this precious work of art came to be part of our lives. You have likely read about it in the blog before, but like so many things pandemic, it is getting recycled!

Several years ago, Marshall and I were staying at Doris Day’s famous dog friendly hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, The Cypress Inn, with our Texas Pekepoos, Biff and Joey. While strolling Ocean Avenue in this iconic but still quaint place, I saw dozens of paintings through the gleaming, spotless windows of the village’s many art galleries. Although much of the artwork was of high quality, none of it made me pause. Then I saw a painting in a window that literally stopped me in my tracks.

I left my three companions outside and sought out the gallery’s owner. German by birth and passionate about art, Eva Hart and her husband had recently opened their Carmel gallery. The couple enlisted Eva’s brother to scour Europe and Russia for provocative pieces to sell in their new gallery.  As I studied the other paintings, I could see that the siblings had a good eye for art – all the work was compelling. But only the painting in the window instantly captivated me.

The lady with the downcast eyes
The lady with the downcast eyes

Irina Korsakova

Eva told me the painting was created by figurative artist Irina Korsakova, who was born in Moscow in 1960. Her compositions at that time primarily featured Russian diplomats and their wives and children in 18th Century dress.

Irina Korsakova – Art Works – YouTube

Her 18th century dress
Her 18th century dress

I could not afford to purchase the piece myself, but I couldn’t bear to pass up such an exquisite creation. Then I thought about my clients whose remodel I had just completed in Marin County. I typically do not present artwork to clients, as it is such a personal attraction that depends on the eye and response of the viewer. But I decided to make an exception, knowing my clients did not have the time or interest to search for paintings.

First, the Good News

The following week, Eva personally drove to Marin to deliver the painting.   She met me at my clients recently finished European country style home on a four-acre estate in Ross, an upscale enclave north of San Francisco. With her effusive passion for art, Eva did a masterful job presenting the painting to my client, whose husband could not join us that morning.

We placed the art above the elegant white marble fireplace in the living room, where it was flanked by cranberry and charcoal colored French toile window treatments. It was a perfect location and my client loved it. We left the painting in place for the couple to view together. Later that day, I got a call. “Linda, he hates the painting,” my client said.

The red toy horse
The red toy horse

The Hand of Fate

Disappointed, I retrieved the 4’ x 4’ canvas in my SUV the next afternoon. When I arrived home, Marshall asked how it went. Upon hearing my answer, he promptly walked out the front door and returned with the painting in his arms. We hung the exquisite artwork over the fireplace in our tiny cottage in San Rafael, above the funky old recycled mantel I had found at a salvage yard. It looked spectacular. Though extravagant, we decided in that moment we would figure out a way to keep it. We did, and in 2002, Woman with Horse made the move with us from our small cottage to our 1928 Spanish Revival home by the San Francisco Bay – the one we are now remodeling.

Woman with Horse by Irina Korsakova
Woman with Horse by Irina Korsakova

A Forever Home

We still love the painting and cannot imagine our home without it. We look forward to placing it in our new space when it is finished. In these days of COVID-19 and lockdown, we no longer have the joy of seeing our guests’ reactions when they first meet the mysterious lady in the opulent white dress and black hat gazing down at the tiny red toy horse in her gloved hand. But I am glad it can still be visited in the many newsletters and magazine articles in which it has appeared, and in my book, Architectural Interiors.This treasured piece has elicited dozens of comments from readers over the years, and one talented client of mine even painted a copy of it for her own home.

We hung the beautiful painting over our fireplace
We hung the beautiful painting over our fireplace

There is no doubt that life in today’s world qualifies as the dire circumstances Louis Netter was talking about. Everything is changing every day. But art will always evoke those feelings of joy and connection that can bring a burst of normal into our lives, just when we need it most.

Art can make a room light up with beauty
Art can make a room light up with beauty

For the love of art,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 10 comments

    Linda you are truly a master in all areas of art and design.
    An inspiration to all.
    You are remarkable.
    Teresa Beltramo

  • Eva Hart

    Oh my god, Linda (and Marshall)…… I just opened your latest newsletter and, as you can imagine, almost fell of my reading chair!!
    What memories this has evoked, especially at this time while I’m contemplating opening another Hart Gallery!
    Long story….. but if/when I do I’ll ask you for permission to reprint your article. It so reflects my own feelIngs of the important role art can play in our lives, especially during unsettling times.
    Thank you for that wonderful trip down memory lane!
    With much affection,

  • Cynthia Dahl

    Love it! Love it! So you!

  • bob lewis


  • Jean Bennett

    She belongs in your space, she is at home, in your home 🙂


  • Carol Womack

    I still have a copy of this painting that I printed when I first found your blog. I love it!!!


    Stunning! Always admired that piece in your photos. Perfect in that gorgeous room!

  • Norma

    It’s a wonderful piece of art. So glad it’s in your home to enjoy for many years. Can’t wait to see it back in your new remodel home.

  • Yvonne Danelle Carpenter

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of art. Being from a family of women who grew up making their own clothes, I look mostly at that gown and think of the hundreds and hundreds of hours it must have taken to make it in that time period. But, it is the eyes that draw you in to wonder, “What is she thinking about?”

  • Veronica Martin

    Hi Linda, I saw this article about the woman and horse painting in a Pinterest email and immediately recognized it from an article I have in a House Beautiful coffee book from years ago (2003!). I absolutely loved that painting and the article showcasing your house in California. I often wondered who was the painter because the article just said it was a Russian painter. I am obsessed with finding a similar kind of painting. If you have any recommendations, pls let me know! Thank you!

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