I heard that snicker!
You may think at first that my use of “Handsome” in reference to this portrait is oxymoronic. However, when we take a closer look the meaning of the word, one finds that I may not be quite so far “off the mark” as first impressions might suggest.
Here are a few samples of dictionary definitions for the word “handsome”.
- “Pleasing in appearance especially by reason of conformity to ideals of form and proportion”.
- “Having an attractive, well-proportioned, and imposing appearance suggestive of health and strength; good-looking: a handsome man; a handsome woman”
- “Having a pleasing and usually impressive or dignified appearance”
Now the Muscovy Duck in this image certainly has “an unusually impressive and dignified appearance.” Notice the air of confidence and the head held high. This was no shy and retiring duck. It posed for me for about 7 minutes, unperturbed by my tripod waving, lens changing antics.
Certainly our hero looks healthy, strong and fit-as-a-fiddle. That feathered pompadour is without peer. The subtle pastel coloration of the bill is high art. The eye clear and firm.
Alas, our true dilemma is what to do about the bumpy red face. (The “attractive”, “pleasing in appearance” part if you will.) Indeed if this were a human being, we would guess this to be a severe case of acne. A person to be shunned and someone for whom love would be illusive at best. But this is not a human and the red patch is to the other members of this species, the markings of true aesthetic aristocracy. Perhaps we should be careful about how we anthromorphize our fellow creatures and how we judge others as well.