Self-Esteem 1: Artworks

Below are some works of art that express the feelings of those who are trying to achieve self-esteem.  In these works, the characters have separated themselves from others by being members of a group dedicated to a certain task.  They have not been exposed to actual gains and losses of reputation or finances – that will come later.

The Governor’s of the Guild of St. Luke, Haarlem

(De Bray, 1675, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Members of the Guild, Haarlem by De Bray De Bray was known for painting upper-class members of Dutch society in the guise of antique heroes.  This painting is no exception.  In this scene the members of the painter’s guild express self-confidence in their call to service of the guild.  The artist even depicted himself the man second from the left holding a tablet.  This is not only an illustration of the belongingness need being satisfied, but also a depiction of the “first-order exposure” need being satisfied by being a member of the highly selective painter’s guild.  The self-esteem need of the artist holding the tablet may be satisfied further through the work of art that he is creating, assuming it meets the high standards of his peers within the guild.

The Night Watch, The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq

(Rembrandt, 1642, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Night Watch painting by Rembrandt

This painting was first seen depicting the safety need being satisfied by a functional society, and then again depicting the satisfaction of the belongingness need.  It is presented again to represent the satisfaction of the “first-order exposure” need.  This need is satisfied by the men being members of a select militia dedicated to the guardianship of their community. 

Lakme, The Flower Song (Delibes, 1881-1882)

This aria for two sopranos is one of the most recognizable of all arias ever written.  Lakme, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, and her servant, Mallika, sing this music piece together as they go to gather flowers at a river.  The aria depicts characters that begin to separate themselves from others but not to the extent that they are exposed to others in the community.  They are alone, by themselves at a river, with exposure only to one another.  This is a prime example of satisfying the “first-order exposure” need.

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