“Veiled Rebecca” by Giovanni Benzoni

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA, is a cool place, and it is well worth visiting if you’re in the area. It has fun stuff for kids, too, and you have to like (well, I have to like, anyway) any museum which has a realistic life-sized Stegosaurus model on its front lawn.

It has some significant sentimental value for me as well, being one of the places my wife and I traveled to back in the late summer of 1982 when we were first dating. And on that visit we serendipitously discovered the Triceratops models Jeannine mentioned on her blog, which blew my mind, because I’d lived my entire life up to that point within fifty miles of the place, and I never knew they were there.

It is also the site, according to my parents, of the first public exhibition of my artwork — a crayon drawing of dinosauresque critters, which I’d drawn in kindergarten or first grade, I think, and which was part of a show of artwork by children. I believe the museum staff gave it the title "The Big Animal".

But one of the coolest things at the Berkshire Museum is a modestly-sized marble statue called "The Veiled Rebecca" by Giovanni Benzoni. When I first saw this thing a couple of decades ago, I found it simply amazing. And I still find it so. The artist was able — don’t ask me how, because I find it almost inconceivable that human hands have this kind of skill — to carve hard marble in such a way as to make you believe that you are looking at a piece of gauzy veil over the statue’s face. It is quite incredible to behold "in the flesh", as it were. I took a few photos during our most recent visit to the museum, of which the above is one, but they only give you an idea of what this piece really looks like. In the gallery, with the lighting they use on it, the marble really does look like thin cloth. It’s almost kind of eerie… but very beautiful. — PL


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