Posts Tagged ‘Bernard Crick’

Blackpaint 440 – Veronese and Orwell; Vanilla Halos, Bugs in the Milk, Sick in the Porridge..

April 4, 2014

Veronese at the National Gallery

This is basically a big collection of the most beautiful, huge paintings in which the characters fall to their knees, raise their arms imploringly, recoil in fear, awe, astonishment, gesture to each other in the most theatrical manner, watched by reverential servants, docile horses (huge) and other people and animals.  The colours: that washed-out Veronese blue; a much deeper blue that I associate with Titian; rose pink; cloaks in billowing orange; the pale green and grey of the Allegorical paintings, “Scorn”, “Unfaithfulness”, and the others; subtle, pale flesh tones of the putti.

The compositions are also stunning; for my money, the finest are “The Anointing of David” and “The Family of Darius before Alexander” (part of the permanent collection at the NG).

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The Anointing of David

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The Family of Darius before Alexander

There are, however, some weaknesses:  In the small painting, “The Conversion of Mary Magdalene”, Christ has a giant left hand and an appalling vanilla ice-cream halo.  Generally, his Christs are insipid and unconvincing, compared to the less exalted characters.  In fact, several of the paintings contain rather sketchily drawn faces, shown up by the excellent draughtsmanship elsewhere in the same pictures.

veronese mary magdalene

The Conversion of Mary Magdalene

(Halo doesn’t look too bad in this repro – believe me, it’s bad)

A few random things of note:

The line around the head of St.Helena in “The Dream of…”; it reminds me of the line around superimposed photo images in the work of Surrealists, Man Ray, for instance;

The snake-like ripple of muscles in the back of the assailant in “the Temptation of Saint Anthony Abbot”;

Terrible, insipid Christ in “The Supper at Emmaus”

The fantastic back in “Unfaithfulness”.

veronese unfaithfulness

George Orwell

Had to read DJ Taylor’s biography of the great man, which he has called “Orwell – The Life”, unlike Bernard Crick’s earlier one, which was only “A Life”.  There is a discrepancy between the two, regarding the memoir “Such, Such Were the Joys”, about St Cyprian’s, Orwell’s Sussex prep school;  this is the essay that Sam Leith described as a self-pitying “load of bollocks” in the Guardian recently.  According to Crick, Henry Longhurst, the golfer and writer, who was at the school at the same time as Orwell, was of the bollocks view (although he expressed it more moderately); he felt Orwell exaggerated and even lied about being beaten for bed-wetting.  He describes an incident in which he (Longhurst) was sick into a bowl of porridge and was then forced to eat it (he’s supposed to be defending the school! ).  Taylor, however, ascribes this account to Alec Waugh… Who is right?

Here’s Orwell in “Down and Out in Paris and London”, describing the little disasters that befall when you are broke: “you have spent your last eighty centimes on half a litre of milk, and are boiling it over the spirit lamp.  While it boils a bug runs down your forearm; you give the bug a flick with your nail, and it falls, plop! straight into the milk.  There is nothing for it but to throw the milk away and go foodless.”  No, George, you fish the bug out and use the milk.  I don’t think George, or Eric as he was at St.Cyprian’s, would have eaten the porridge.

Juste Avant la Nuit – Chabrol

Great old film from the 70s, in which an advertising exec murders a woman with whom he is having an SM affair.  He is tortured by guilt, confesses the crime to both his own wife AND the widower of his victim (a close friend) – and they both refuse to condemn him and say he shouldn’t confess.. Shades of Bunuel; the murderer’s wife is played by Stephane Audran, gleamingly beautiful and another reminder of Bunuel.

Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Went round this, saying “I had one of them!  Yeah, I remember that, we had one just like it!” BUT – there are no toy guns, except a couple of space guns.  When I was a kid in the 50s and 60s, I had loads of toy guns, that were pretty good facsimiles of the real thing; Colt .45s, a bolt action plastic rifle that fired plastic balls, a tommy gun, flintlock pistols in moulded plastic, an automatic that fired pellets.. also a toy crossbow, knives with retracting blades, rubber tomahawks.  I know these toys are now considered undesirable and dangerous, but surely they should be in the museum.  To omit them distorts history.

 

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Work in (not very much) progress.

Blackpaint

4.04.14