Blackpaint 139


Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

A lot of real treasures and the most helpful attendants I’ve encountered.

First, they’ve got an exhibition relating to “Dance” in a little gallery at the back; I was astonished to see a Roger Hilton woman, the blue and yellow “Dancing Woman”, leaping across the wall opposite me; interesting to see how ropey the drawing was, close up – the beauty is in the energy of the image.  There was a Sickert chorus line, Degas ballet dancers and two astonishing postcard -size watercolour pictures by Arthur Melville, one of the Scottish Boys, done in 1889.  They are titled Dancers at the Moulin Rouge, which the pink, white and black one shows, but the other one is abstract.  It has a large patch of egg-yolk yellow with a touch of brown decalcomania at the base, a mid region of Prussian-ish blue and a red/orange patch on grey/brown at the bottom.

1889 is early for a British abstract, surely; more surprising when you consider the other beautifully done, but conventional watercolour paintings by Melville on display (conventional in composition – he was an experimentalist with the watercolour medium).

Tipu

The ground floor is dominated by a huge, mad canvas by Benjamin West, of a Scottish Mediaeval king being saved from a raging stag by the spear of one Colin Fitzgerald.  Opposite is the defeat of Tipu Khan (of Tipu’s Tiger fame) by David Wilkie.  Nearby is a portrait of Lady Kinneard, wife no doubt, of Lord FU Kinneard of legendary fame.

Rembrandt

In an alcove is Rembrandt’s “A Woman in bed”; it’s Saskia, leaning out of a four-poster, pushing the canopy curtain aside – and her hands are enormous.  Her left is towards us, so that might be right, but her right is away from us, across her breast, and its the same size.  They’re good hands, but they’re  too big.  Yes, it’s an obsession with me (see blog on Mick’s David, Blackpaint 106)

Dutch Lobsters

There are several perfectly painted Dutch lobsters with glistening fruit; my partner says it’s because lobsters were an expensive status symbol – I suspect it might be that one painter, Kalf for example, did a really brilliant lobster and all the others had to try to beat him.

Velasquez

The old woman cooking eggs, with the blunt-featured, crop-haired young boy looking on; a picture so beautiful that I  can’t think of a sardonic comment.

I’m going to leave the Titians, Raphaels, Leonardo and the Impressionists until tomorrow and finish with

“the Death of St.Ephraim and incidents in the lives of the Hermits”. 

I think that’s what it’s called; irritatingly, it isn’t in the otherwise brilliant Companion Guide to the gallery and I can’t remember who painted it – the Master of somewhere or something. 

It’s full of strange little vignettes – a hermit, cave and lion like  St.Jerome; a monk chasing naked women; black demons in boats with naked women; a circle of flagellants processing round a sort of maypole, scourging themselves; a skeletal corpse rising from a rock to terrify-passers-by; a monk riding a dragon… Who was St.Ephraim? Must look him up.

The Snail Crab Dance by Blackpaint

Listening to Cinnamon Girl, by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

“A dreamer of pictures you run in the night,

You see us together, chasing the moonlight, my Cinnamon Girl”.

Blackpaint

24.05.10

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