Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie L Herdrich’

Blackpaint 681 – Ena and Betty, Kim and Solomon – and Obscurities

November 6, 2020

Singer Sargent – The Masterworks by Stephanie L Herdrich (Rizzoli/Electra)

Finally, someone has bought me this great book on Singer Sargent, a painter who I revere, although many think him rather sentimental and chocolate box-y (David Bailey, for example).  Three of my favourites below:

Portrait of Edouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron (1891)

Herdrich thinks the girl’s portrait obscures that of the boy and that her right fist is clenched in tension.  I have to disagree on both counts, although the text generally is clear, informative and free from the higher bullshit that often mars writing on art.

 

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892)

What used to be called (outrageously no doubt) a “come hither” expression….

 

Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asher and Mrs. Wertheimer (1901)

He loves enormous jars.  Betty’s (?) white dress, just a few white streaks on brown and grey, painted at high speed, no doubt – perfect.

! Kings 2, King James Bible

I’ve just got to the death of David and the succession – not unchallenged – of his son Solomon;  it’s the end of The Godfather 1, when Michael settles all family business;  Shimei, Joab and Adonijah are all killed on Solomon’s orders; they’re the equivalent of Tessio, Carlo and the others.  This is not a surprise, since the story up to now has been one of Yahweh or Jehovah directing the Israelites to obey his every command and slaughter thousands of non-believers – Hivites, Jebusites, Philistines and the rest – and colonise their territories.  But the Israelites are a stiff-necked people and keep backsliding. making golden calves, disobeying puzzling, absolutist commandments and being slaughtered for disobedience themselves, by plagues, bolts of fire, sudden holes opening to swallow them, and so on.

Circles and Squares, Caroline Maclean (Bloomsbury)

The astonishing love lives of Barbara Hepworth, Ben and Winifred Nicholson,, among others; The women seem to have allowed the men to develop affairs and father children on other women, with whom they formed friendships and shared the males, more or less willingly.  Nicholson, looking manly and tempting in his beret in the picture above, spent time shuttling between Winifred, his wife and her children and Barbara Hepworth, the mother of  triplets by Nicholson..  It’s difficult for me to square this with the idea of women being oppressed by a “patriarchy” – these women acquiesced in, if not actually encouraged their “exploitation”.  Maclean’s narrative is, so far, entirely without moral judgement, and the better for it.  You can detect, I think, an irony in this forbearance – but maybe I’m wrong.

The other thing is that they seem to be moving from one address to another, sometimes just across the road or round the corner, AII the time…

Philby

An astounding book by Ben Macintyre.  Philby was recruited into the intelligence service purely on the strength of his family – his father had been at Eton(?) with the recruiter and he was therefore regarded as sound.  In fact, he was a committed communist and had already been recruited by soviet intelligence in the early 30s.  The quality of the intelligence he passed to the Russians was so high that the Russians were suspicious – they thought he was a double agent (that is, really working for the British) or maybe being fed false information.

In Istanbul, during WW2, there were so many spies, of so many nations, and they were so well known that, when one entered the favourite spy’s nightspot, the band would strike up a popular song of the time – “Boo boo baby, I’m a spy”.  Only 100 pages in.  It’s nearly as good as his later book about the defection, or rescue by British agents, of Oleg Gordievsky.

Obscured Series

Some life drawings and paintings I have been revamping lately:

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint

6th November 2020