What can art teach us about living well?

What can art teach us about living well?

Dying well also means having lived well. In episode 29 of our podcast we explore this concept through art in conversation with art expert Lynne Hanley.

What can art teach us about the concept of living well?

Episode 29 of our podcast explores how dying well also means living and ageing well. What can art teach us about the concept of living well? And can creativity enhance our lives even as we move towards death? We were fortunate to be joined by a returning guest and ‘friend of the show’, Lynne Hanley. Art expert and founder of Beyond the Palette art tours, Lynne took us on a conversational journey through some great art as well as looking at some of the visual narrative of the original art of dying well, the Ars Moriendi.

The image at the top of this article is a painting by the French Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party which absolutely embodies living well. Lynne Hanley said:

“It’s a group of friends who’ve just been boating, and now they’re in a restaurant along the side of the river Seine, just outside Paris at a place called the Restaurant Fournaise. It’s a painting of exuberant conviviality I think. It’s obviously a beautiful day, people are interacting, leaning in towards each other, everything is very dynamic, but yet it’s a painting that comes together very well as a whole. So, eating, drinking, being outside in nature, being with friends, being looked after in a restaurant, all can be understood to be emblematic of  living well.”

Listen to episode 29 of our podcast

Living well, ageing well, and dying well.

As well as Renoir, other highlights included discussions of works by Matisse, Sorolla, and medieval images taken from manuscripts, psalters and the Ars moriendi. View the images via the links below.

Wedding banquet by Loyset Liedet from Histoire d’Olivier de Castille et d’Artus d’Algarbe, 1440s

Running Along the Beach by Joaquín Sorolla, Valencia, 1908, Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias, Oviedo

Detail of Luxuria and companions dancing, from a copy of Prudentius’s Psychomachia, England, 11th century

Detail of Salomé’s dance from a Psalter made in Oxford, c. 1200–1210

Wrestling match, Queen Mary Psalter, 1300/1325, Royal Ms 2. B. VII, fol. 160 v, London, British Library

The Parakeet and the Mermaid by Matisse, 1952, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Bad Death – The Temptation of Attachment to Worldly Goods. Ars Moriendi, Image 5a, The Ars moriendi (Editio princeps, circa 1450), British Museum

Good Death – The Inspiration of Detachment. Ars Moriendi, Image 5b, The Ars moriendi (Editio princeps, circa 1450), British Museum

The Art of Dying Well