The Modigliani reappears

Widmerpool’s unease with the artistic throughout Dance is bracketed by angular drawings, first his mocking pictograph in the cabinet de toilette at La Grenadière and now at the end of the novel by reappearance of the Modigliani drawing.

Kenneth Widmerpool Marc Boxer cover to the Fontana edition (1977) of At Lady Molly's

Kenneth Widmerpool
Marc Boxer
cover to the Fontana edition (1977) of At Lady Molly’s

On the penultimate pages of HSH, Henderson unwraps the drawing, which has moved from Stringham’s possession to Pamela Flitton’s to Widmerpool’s, intertwined with Widmerpool’s rise and fall.

“The glass of the frame was cracked in several places; the elongated nude no worse than a little crumbled. It had been executed with a few strokes running diagonally across the paper. The marvellous economy of line would help in making it hard to identify — if anybody bothered — as more than a Modigliani drawing of its own particular period.”  [HSH 250 ]

Anna Amedeo Modigliani, 1911 black crayon 16 3/4 x 10 3/8 in from ‘The Unknown Modigliani’ by Noël Alexandre reproduced at richardnathanson.co.uk

Anna
Amedeo Modigliani, 1911
black crayon 16 3/4 x 10 3/8 in
from ‘The Unknown Modigliani’ by Noël Alexandre
reproduced at richardnathanson.co.uk

We have previously shown some Modigliani drawings, but the additional description here suggests that Powell was thinking of the most simply drawn of Modigliani’s likenesses of Anna Ahkmatova.  With a few lines, he reduced her beauty to its essential features.  Perhaps Powell is drawing our attention to the stark contrast between Modigliani’s passionate relationship to the great Russian poet and Widmerpool’s difficult relationship to Flitton; yet there is similarity in that both women were objects of obsession.

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Pop Art Armchairs

Powell mentions the chairs three times, so they caught our attention. In Barnabas Henderson’s art gallery, Jenkins sits down in the small cluttered basement office. “I chose an armchair of somewhat exotic design of which there were two [HSH 238-239/257].”  Soon Bithel arrived and “deposited in the other exotic armchair [HSH 244/263].”  Then, a few pages later, the punch line: “Bithel lay back, so far as doing so were possible, in the pop-art armchair. [HSH 248/267].” There is actually a fourth mention a couple of pages on.

Henderson, who monetizes old paintings and cares nothing for their history or aesthetics, furnishes his private space with the latest kitsch. Pop Art evolved in the 1950s and 1960s not only with the work of Americans like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and James Rosenquist  but also with a British contingent, drawing images from and contributing images to popular culture.

Chair Allen Jones, 1969 Acrylic on glass fibre and resin with perspex and leather, 31 × 23 × 39 in The Tate © Allen Jones

Chair
Allen Jones, 1969
Acrylic on glass fibre and resin with perspex and leather, 31 × 23 × 39 in
The Tate
© Allen Jones

The “arm” chair at left by Allen Jones, a British Pop artist, has its limbs in nontraditional locations, but we show it as our first example because it illustrates the debt of Pop Art to Dada and Surrealism. In the 1950s some of the pioneers of Pop, like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, were called Neo-Dadists. Powell (1971) wrote about the connection in one his reviews, seeing the Surrealist Magritte, in particular, as a forefather of Pop.

We examined many Pop Art chairs; see, for examples,  15 Most Bonkers Chairs at Pop Art Design in LondonOur nomination for Henderson’s chair is the Up 5 Lounge Chair by Gaetano Pesce in classic Pop Art red. Pesce described the chair as “a female figure tied to a ball shaped ottoman symbolizing the shackles that keep women subjugated.”

Up 5 Lounge Chair with Up 6 Ottoman Gaetano Pesce, 1969 Polyurethane foam covered in stretch fabric, 40 x 44 x 45 in; ottoman diameter 23 " Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2016 Gaetano Pesce

Up 5 Lounge Chair with Up 6 Ottoman
Gaetano Pesce, 1969
Polyurethane foam covered in stretch fabric, 40 x 44 x 45 in; ottoman diameter 23 “
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2016 Gaetano Pesce

The Pop artists successfully blurred the distinction between kitsch and high art. Now, Pop is a museum staple. In 2013-4 the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, the Barbican in London, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil Am Rhein, Germany collaborated on an exhibit called Pop Art Design.   If Barnabas Henderson were alive today, he would dust off those chairs, bring them up from the basement, and try to sell them for a pretty penny. We recently saw a yellow version of Pesce’s Up 5 Lounge Chair, somewhat worse for wear, offered on 1stdibs for $4223 (accessed 12/16/2016).

 

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The Duport Collection

Henderson tells Jenkins: “Far the best of the Victorian marine painters show come from the Duport collection.” [HSH 233/252] Of course, Jenkins had seen these paintings years before and disdained them. Now we have a few more clues to their appearance. The newspaper review of the exhibition had praised the ‘virtuosity’ and ‘tightness of finish’ of Gannets Nesting, The Needles: Schooner Aground, and Angry Seas at Land’s End. [HSH 227/246]

Australian Gannet John Gould, 1840-1848 hand colored lithograph from Birds of Australia, Vol. 7 (n1-a.7): plate 76 Image from Glasgow University Special Collections Department

Australian Gannet
John Gould, 1840-1848
hand colored lithograph from Birds of Australia,
Vol. 7 (n1-a.7): plate 76
Image from Glasgow University Special Collections Department

John Gould (1804-1881), like his contemporary James Audubon, was a skilled illustrator of birds. He published eight folios of Birds of Australia and many other folios of birds from all over the world, containing over 3000 color plates of birds. His work would merit the critic’s praise of virtuosity and finish.

 

 

 

The Clipper Ship "Flying Cloud" off the Needles, Isle of Wight John Buttersworth, 1859-1860. oil on panel, 12 x 18 in Memorial Art Gallery, U. of Rochester, N.Y photo in public domain from Wikipedia.org

The Clipper Ship “Flying Cloud” off the Needles, Isle of Wight
John Buttersworth, 1859-1860.
oil on panel, 12 x 18 in
Memorial Art Gallery, U. of Rochester, N.Y
photo in public domain from Wikipedia.org

 

The Wreck of the Irex

The Wreck of the Irex

The Needles are chalk stacks off the Isle of Wight, which are part of a chalk ridge running to Dorset. They have been the sight of many shipwrecks. This picture (left) of the wreck of the Irex, which occurred on January 25,1890, shows The Needles in a diagonal line pointing toward the horizon.  We have been unable to identify the artist. A better known painting of The Needles is The Clipper Ship “Flying Cloud” by  James Butterworth. The Flying Cloud held the record for the fastest passage under sail from New York to San Francisco and itself went aground off New Brunswick in 1874. Butterworth (1817-1894) was British but specialized in portraits of American ships. Our first reaction was that with Butterworth’s skill for detail and drama, his work could not have been in the Duport collection, but we became less certain of our opinion, when we read that Jenkins revised his prior

Boats near the Shore of Normandy Richard Parkes Bonington, 1823-24 oil The Hermitage

Boats near the Shore of Normandy
Richard Parkes Bonington, 1823-24
ol on canvas, 13 x 18 in
The Hermitage

view of the seascape: “The Needles: Schooner Aground was by no means without merit. The painter had evidently seen the work of Bonington.” [HSH 238/257]. Richard Parkes Bonington (Britsh 1802-1828) was a romantic landscape and seascape painter. He won a gold medal, as did John Constable, at the Paris Salon on 1824.  So in the end, Jenkins admits that for all his sarcasm and fussiness about some works, he joins those who reassess work as time passes and tastes change.

The Longships Lighthouse, Land's End, from the North-East Joseph Mallord William Turner, ~1834 watercolor on white wove paper, 11 x 17 in The Tate, London

The Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End, from the North-East
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ~1834
watercolor on white wove paper, 11 x 17 in
The Tate, London

Jenkins “was less keen on Angry Seas off Land’s End.” [HSH 238/257], so perhaps the rendition of that subject in the Duport Collection was not so masterly as this J. M. W. Turner vision of the powerful waves off Land’s End.

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Apollyon, the Fiend Illustrated

Watching Murtlock approach alone, Jenkins recalls a childhood memory that he shared with Moreland, a fear that a lone approaching figure was Apollyon, the fiend from The Pilgrim’s Progress; “a lively portrayal of the fiend in an illustration, realistically depicting his goat’s horns, bat’s wings, lion’s claws, lizard’s legs — the terror of that image, bursting out from an otherwise at moments prosy narrative, had imbedded itself for all time in the [Moreland’s] imagination. ” [HSH 216/233 ]

John Bunyan published the allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress in 1677. It has remained in print since then, appearing in multiple editions with many different illustrators, and is still widely read as a Christian lesson. Apollyon, the Destroyer, is the rebel angel who battles the hero Christian. Our narrator is a bit unreliable;  Jenkins and Mortland’s memory does not quite match Bunyan’s description:

Now the monster was hideous to behold: he was clothed with scales like a fish, and they are his pride; he had wings like a dragon, and feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion.

The Christian Fights Apollyon The Pilgrim's Progress, Plate 20 William Blake, from Dark Figures in the Desired Country: Blake's Illustrations to The Pilgrim's ... By Gerda S. Norvig, The Google Book project via Wikimedia Commons

The Christian Fights Apollyon
The Pilgrim’s Progress, Plate 20
William Blake, 1824-1827
Watercolor
The Frick Collection
from Dark Figures in the Desired Country: Blake’s Illustrations to The Pilgrim’s … By Gerda S. Norvig, The Google Book project via Wikimedia Commons

We are not sure which illustration Jenkins and Moreland remembered from their childhoods. The illustration by William Blake (1824-1827) shows the terrifying Apollyon in frightening detail, with the scales worthy of pride, but Blake’s originals were watercolors and were not published with a text of the Pilgrim’s progress at the time (Norvig, 1993). The are currently in the Frick Collection, which exhibits them intermittently.

Christian's Combat with Apollyon The Pilgrim's Progress H.C. Selous and M. Paolo Priolo, circa 1850.

Christian’s Combat with Apollyon
The Pilgrim’s Progress
H.C. Selous and M. Paolo Priolo, circa 1850.

A number of Victorian illustrators took on the subject. H.C. Selous and M. Paolo Priolo’s version won a prize competition from the London Art Union but does not quite convey the full force of the terror that would stay in boys’ memories for the rest of their lives (for contemporary reaction, see The Spectator, 13 January 1844 ).

The Fight with Apollyon Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim's Progress . London, Edinburgh, and New York: Thomas Nelson and sons, 1887. William Bell Scott Wood block, 4 3/4 x 3 3/16 inches image from the Victorian Web, scanned by George P. Landow

The Fight with Apollyon
Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress . London, Edinburgh, and New York: Thomas Nelson and sons, 1887.
William Bell Scott
Wood block, 4 3/4 x 3 3/16 inches
image from the Victorian Web, scanned by George P. Landow

The illustration by William Bell Scott , published in 1887, catches Apollyon’s dynamic force, with plenty of claw and wing, but where are the horns?

Christian Cast Down by Apollyon Frederick Shields, 1864 Wood engraving, unsigned but probably by Joseph Swain, 4¾ x 4½ inches from The Victorian Web, image scanned by Simon Cooke

Christian Cast Down by Apollyon
from Illustrations to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. London: Simpkin Marshall, 1864
Frederick Shields, 1864
Wood engraving, unsigned but probably by Joseph Swain,
4¾ x 4½ inches
from The Victorian Web, image scanned by Simon Cooke

The version by Frederick Shields shows Apollyon’s frightening fanged face but just a bit of claw and no wing to match Jenkins’ remembrance. There are many other Apollyons to consider, and new ones continue to appear, like an Apollyon in digital stained glass  (Howard, 2014-2015).  Perhaps imperfect memory, whether Powell’s, Jenkins’, or Mortland’s, inevitably prevents us from finding the exact fiend illustration that the boys recall; we suspect that like so many of Powell’s verbal images, the artwork that he describes is an olio of many works, mixed by his imagination.

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The Whispering Knights

Talking about the Devil’s Fingers, Mr. Goldney, of the archeological society, says, “It’s an interesting little site. Not up to the The Whispering Knights, where I was last month. That’s an altogether grander affair. Still, we have to be grateful for what we have in our neighborhood.’
Jenkins asks, ” Why is it called The Whispering Knights? I’ve heard the name, but never been there.”
“During a battle some knights were standing apart, plotting against their king. A witch passed, and turned them into stone for their treachery.” [HSH 160/172]

The Whispering Knights
Neolithic portal dolmen
Great and Little Rollright, Oxfordshire
photo by Midnightblueowl by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via Wikimedia.org

The Devil’s Fingers is supposed to be one of the many stone monuments found throughout Britain. One example is The Whispering Knights, four upright stones and a fallen capstone, that mark a burial site in Oxfordshire. The Knights grave site is thought to have been placed five to six thousand years ago. Nearby are slightly newer Neolithic monuments, The King Stone and a circle of 77 stones known as The King’s Men.

Jenkins is visiting the Devil’s Fingers on the morning after Midsummer’s Eve, which was the classic time for pagan celebrations at sites like The Whispering Nights (Jacobs et al., “Devil’s Stones and Midnight Rites: Megaliths, Folklore, and Contemporary Pagan Witchcraft” Folklore 2014; 125:60-71) In the mid-twentieth century, Wiccan cults would meet at these stones for naked rituals to the Horned God, perhaps similar to the horned stag-mask dance that Gwinett saw Scorp Murtlock and his followers perform.  [HSH 152-157/164-169].

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Edgar Bosworth Deacon: Edwardian Symbolist

In a pile of old newspapers, about to be burned, Jenkins spies a review of the Bosworth Deacon Centenary Exhibition being mounted at the Barnabas Henderson Gallery.

‘… albeit his roots lie in Continental Symbolism, Deacon’s art remains unique in itself. In certain moods he can recall Fernand Khnopff or Max Klinger, the Belgian’s near photographic technique observable in Deacon’s semi-naturalistic treatment of more than one of his favourite renderings of Greek and Roman legend. In his genre pictures, the academic compliances of the Secession School of Vienna are given strong homosexual bias…’ [HSH 226/247]

Poster for Secession I Gustav Klimt, 1898 color lithograph, 39 x 28 in Museum of Modern Art, NY photo from nyarc.org

Poster for Secession I
Gustav Klimt, 1898
color lithograph, 39 x 28 in
Museum of Modern Art, NY
photo from nyarc.org

The Secession School of Vienna was a group of some 20 artists who seceded from the establishment Vienna Künstlerhaus in 1897. Their president and now best known member was Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862-1918).  The Secessionists worked in multiple media and produced exhibitions, catalogues, and  a magazine showing their views on the how art should respond to the new century. In the poster (at left) for their first exhibition, Athena, in red, symbolizes wisdom, and Theseus on the frieze above is batttling against philistinism. The poster was initially censored until Klimt added the tree to hide Theseus’ genitalia.

Fernand Khnopff (Belgian, 1858-1921) was an honorary member of the Secession. He displayed 21 works at the first Secession Exhibition in 1898.

 

I Lock My Door Upon Myself Fernand Khnopff, 1891 oil on canvas Neue Pinakothek, Munich photo by Yelkrokoyade via Wikimedia Commons

I Lock My Door Upon Myself
Fernand Khnopff, 1891
oil on canvas
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
photo by Yelkrokoyade via Wikimedia Commons

We show I Lock My Door Upon Myself, which shows Khnopff’s debt to the Pre- Raphaelites.  He made frequent trips to Britain and was friendly with artists like Hunt, Watts, Burne-Jones, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The painting is based on a poem by Christina Rossetti, sister of Dante Gabriel. The third stanza of the poem is

I lock the door upon myself,

And bar them out; but who shall wall

Self from myself, most loathed of all.

Khnopff was a Symbolist, who expected us to see the painting not as simple representation but as a narrative pieced together from its icons, like the dried red lilies. The white bust, which might have appealed to Mr. Deacon’s classical leanings, is of Hypnos, the god of sleep. For more on this painting and its iconography, watch the Khan Academy video on it.

The Sphinx or The Caress Fernand Khnopff, 1896 oil on canvas, 20 x 59 in Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels The Yorck Project via Wikimedia Commons

The Sphinx or The Caress
Fernand Khnopff, 1896
oil on canvas, 20 x 59 in
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
The Yorck Project via Wikimedia Commons

Jenkins read on in the review:  “even Deacon’s  sphinxes and chimeras posssessing solely male atrributes.” [HSH 226/247 ]  Mr. Deacon would have liked Oedipus (left in The Caress), reminiscent of the androgynous figures in works by Mr. Deacon’s ‘master’, Simeon Solomon,  but might not have approved any hint of the feminine in the face of Khnopff’s sphinx. Beethoven (shown below) by Max Klinger (German,  1857-1920 ), bare chested in a classical setting, would also likely get Mr. Deacon’s approval.

Beethoven Max Klinger, 1902 marble, alabaster, amber, bronze, ivory Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig photo by Henning Høholt from Kulturkompasset.com.

Beethoven
Max Klinger, 1902
marble, alabaster, amber, bronze, ivory; lifesize
Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig
photo by Henning Høholt from Kulturkompasset.com.

 

Klinger was another honorary member of the Secession. His Beethoven was the center piece of the fourteenth Secession Exhibition (1902), along with a frieze by Klimt. Klinger, like Khnopff, was a Symbolist. Some viewers see the eagle at Beethoven’s feet as an icon for Zeus, indicating that Beethoven is enthroned with the Olympian gods,  or while others see  the eagle as a  symbol for Saint John the Baptist. The Secessionists believed in “spatial” art, so the whole exhibit room was designed as a temple to the deity in the sculpture, but some critics saw only an angry old man, waiting for his turn at a public bath.

Jenkins introduced Mr. Deacon at the beginning of A Buyer’s Market and mixed a fond nostalgia for Deacon with an ironic mockery of his theory and execution of art. Now that the reviewer compared Deacon to better known Symbolists and Secessionists,  Jenkins felt “a sense of satisfaction in reading praise of Mr. Deacon… given by a responsible art critic” but was still quite aware of his shortcomings and marvelled that Deacon’s art was having “not so much a Resurrection as a Second Coming.” [HSH 227/248]

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Barnby Remembered

Barnby died, at age 39, in 1941 when his plane was shot down [SA 231/228], but Jenkins reminisces about him in HSH [ 191/206, 229 /247].  Wandering the passages of Stourwater, Jenkins passes through the room where Barnby’s portrait of the waitress from Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant had hung. One of the pictures in another room was also a Barnby, “an oil sketch of the model Conchita, described by Moreland as ‘antithesis of the pavement artist’s traditional representation of a loaf of bread, captioned Easy to Draw but Hard to Get.'” [HSH 191/206]

Reclining Female Nude Adrian Daintrey oil on canvas, 36 x 17 " list at Invaluable.com copyright status unknown

Reclining Female Nude
Adrian Daintrey
oil on canvas, 36 x 17  in.
listed at Invaluable.com
probably © the artist’s estate

Jenkins has told us of Barnby’s tastes but has given us few clues to the actual appearance of his pieces. Here with the mention of Conchita, we have another opportunity to make some guesses. Adrian Daintrey, oft cited as the model for Barnby, painted landscapes, cityscapes, still lives, and portraits.  Despite the reputation as a womanizer that he shared with Barnby, he displayed few nudes; however, by diligent searching, we have discovered one (shown left). It shows his flair for bold swaths of color and prominent brush work. Her dark complexion and the exotic flower in her hair make her a plausible stand-in for La Conchita. Augustus John had also used Conchita as a model, but after reviewing a number of his nudes, we have not had the satisfaction of identifying Daintrey’s model among them.

Both Barnby and Daintrey were war artists during the Second War. Barnby’s painterly skills were soon applied to camouflage work, “disguising aerodromes as Tudor cottages,” [VB  /18 ], which undoubtedly limited his palette of colors.  Some of Daintrey’s war works, like French Soldiers at Sidon, 1944 and Egyptian Solders on a Truck, are now in the Imperial War Museum (digital images not available on the museum web site – accessed Dec. 4, 2016). Daintrey died in 1988.

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