The grape picker – 3 May 2021

Here is a painting of a grape picker. A young girl holds in her arms a box of grapes. The vines from which she has been picking are in the background. The box contains fruit of wonderful quality, which she shows to the viewer. Her demeaner is humble, she looks past the viewer, rather than eye to eye. Her face catches our attention because of a red scarf. There are many red tones in the picture, but here they are concentrated, while the style of tying the scarf is suggestive of her personality. The viewer’s eye moves from her face down her arm to the fruit in her basket. This movement links the character of her face and person to the grapes she carries. This is a metaphorical movement, that might cause a viewer to consider the ‘fruit’ they carry. Do you bear or carry ‘good fruit’?

The picture, The Vendangeuse (The grape picker), 1875, is by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, whose style was loved by the Academy, but loathed by the impressionist avant-garde. The painting here is one of a few genre paintings relating to peasant workers. Grape picking was a common occupation for young girls.

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5

Lord of the
one true

in you we
live and move
and have our being.

We are your branches,
spindly and slight and fragile.

Please ask your Father to prune us
(though gently).

We want to bear more
of your fruit.

Anne Osdieck

God of love,
plant us in the soil of your grace.
Nurture us with the strength of Christ,
the vine of everlasting life.
Enlighten us with the wisdom of your Spirit,
which flows through us today and all days.
Abide in us,
that we may abide in you
and live in your love.
In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

From Mennonite Prayers, adapted