Painted by Edmond Blair Leighton in 1901, The Accolade is one picture it could take me a long time to tire of viewing. If I owned the original, I may never leave the house again.
I am not given to great introspection regarding the why’s of my taste in art, but in describing my enjoyment of this picture to a friend recently, the question has continued to plague me. Why do I like it so much?
My original suspicion was that I have not conquered my delight in all things “girl power”, and the idea of having men kneel to a woman in authority was still appealing. On further thought, a contrary line of reasoning presented.
What I actually like about it, is the picture of chivalry. After all, is he not pledging to serve and protect? To lay down his life if need arises? What I desire from the picture is not the power to rule over the man, but the freely offered, potential sacrifice of his life. Who doesn’t want that kind of devotion? What greater love is there? I would chose it over arbitrary power any day of the week.