Imagination is a grace of mind that can bring many different elements together into a conception that becomes more than the total of its parts. One of my favorite painters, Giovanni de Paolo of the early Italian Rennaisance in Sienna was famously gifted with imagination. His conception of Paradise shows saints and angels embracing, which is, now that he has shown it in this way, what my idea of heaven would be. Intense communication with others from all times and places, all freed from the limitations of time and place, in a delightful atmosphere of ease and beauty. Which is the same thing that art does, in a way, when it speaks to everyone across time and space. I noticed there seems to be an italian greyhund walking through in the upper left corner, and I am not surprised to see such a creature inhabiting Paradise.
These days the creations of new fragrances sometimes remind me of this ethereal yet at the same time material idea of heaven, similar to di Paolo's notion, also taking place in and referencing the natural world; flowers, herbs and the virtual coolness of the air evident. The colorful vividness of the material world is gathered together and heightened into a sense of heaven by his having made wise choices in deciding their combination and proximity to each other, as perfumers might choose to put the elements of various essential scents together to make a fragrance that heightens and releases its combinations over time in an ethereal but powerfully sensual way. I wonder what the two elegant blonde ladies in the lower left hand corner would wear for perfume - possibly something directly from the monks of Santa Maria Novella, something exclusive no doubt, since it took another couple of centuries before the official opening of their pharmacia to the public...
If you come to NYC, you can see this painting in the Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Paradise (predella panel), ca. 1445
Giovanni di Paolo (Italian, Sienese, ca. 1400–1482)