A Pictograph of Widmerpool

During their time together in France, Jenkins, still a school boy, learned more of Widmerpool’s drive and ambition and of his awkward relationship to art.  When Widmerpool was about to depart, his “last week at La Grenadière [was] blighted by another matter, in its way sufficiently provoking for him. This was the appearance on the wall of the cabinet be toilette of a crude, though not unaccomplished, representation of himself — somewhat in the style of the caves in the Dordogne — in this case scratched on plaster with a blunt instrument.” [QU 155/158]

Lascaux pictograph from The Shaft of the Deadman photo from visual-arts-cork.com

Lascaux pictograph from The Shaft of the Deadman
photo from visual-arts-cork.com

There are hundreds of paleolithic paintings in the limestone caves in the Dordogne region of southwest France created over many generations, about 17,000 years ago. The scenes are usually of animals rather than of people; some were made by cutting lines in the rock with stone tools, others drawn with charcoal, others colored with pigments. The phallus on the fallen hunter shown above recalls Widmerpool’s complaint: “And although it is not exactly indecent, it is suggestive, which is worse.” [QU 155/158]

[The post above is out of chronological order; it can also be found in context on the Question of Upbringing page of picturesinpowell.]

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One Response to A Pictograph of Widmerpool

  1. Pingback: At the Isbister Memorial Exhibit | picturesinpowell

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