Carl Thomson (1847-1912), Interior with Couple, 1890, oil on canvas, 21 5/8 x 15 7/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift from the collection of Ira and Mary Lou Fulton, 2015.
As we enter a month that celebrates love, consider the rituals of romance depicted in Carl Thomson’s blandly titled, Interior with Couple. How could we possibly detect that these two are already a couple? Nothing suggests that they are conversant in the language of courtship.
The suitor has just provided the sunlit flowers standing between them in a slender vase. Having already expressed appreciation for them, and lacking other natural conversations, she silently returns to the needlework interrupted by his arrival. He, basking in her approbation for his gift, fails to initiate the next utterance. In mute bliss, he studies his hands. Controlling facial expressions, each suppresses an overt smile. Is the potted cyclamen with heart-shaped leaves and red stems a harbinger? It will yet bloom pink or red, but clearly not this week.