David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

22 March 2016

On the Beach : Australian tide disciplined (5)

We've been here before...

      Canute the Conservator

      Canute the King,
      Patron of the Conserved Thing,
            On a Tour of Royal Holdings
      Glanced within his Golden Mouldings.
      Seeing there some canvas bare,
            some cracked, some ripped, some rotten,
      Commanded all “Death Must Be Stalled
            Or Else Our Time Forgotten.”
      To stop the Rot
            He cast his Lot
      ‘Gainst Light and Breath and Dust:

      To Paintings, first, he offered Night,
            bid “Fix your Eyes against the Light.”
      To Viewers next he set this Hex
            “Go Cease your Fogging Blight.”
      and last, not least, to Dust released
            one word, just this:

FIAPCE   -1995-   
Today we revisit that scene to note its closeness to another such : William Hogarth's 1761 engraving, 'Time smoking a Picture'.

collection : Art Gallery of New South Wales  
This animated Print was Hogarth's Subscription Ticket for Sigismunda, and is a Satire on Connoisseurs.  
It represents Time seated on a mutilated Statue, and smoking a Landscape, through which he has driven a scythe, to manifest its antiquity, not only by sombre cloudy tints, but also by a decayed canvass. "From a contempt," says Mr. Walpole, "of the ignorant Virtuosi of the age, and from indignation at the impudent tricks of Picture-dealers, whom he saw continually recommending and vending vile copies to bubble Collectors, and from never having studied, indeed having seen few good Pictures of the great Italian Masters, he persuaded himself that the praises bestowed on those glorious works were nothing but the effects of prejudice. He talked this language till he believed it; and, having after asserted as true, that time gives a mellowness to colours, and improves them, he not only denied the proposition, but maintained that Pictures only grew black, and worse by age, not distinguishing between the degrees in which the proposition might be true or false." It must, however, be generally admitted, whether Mr. Walpole's remarks are right or wrong, that Mr. Hogarth has admirably illustrated his own doctrine, and given greater point to his burlesque by introducing the fragments of a Statue, beneath which is written, 
"As Statues moulder into worth." P. W.   
- from 'Anecdotes of William Hogarth, written by himself: with essays on his life and genius, and criticisms on his works, selected from Walpole, Gilpin, J. Ireland, Lamb, Phillips, and others. To which are added a catalogue of his prints; account of their variations, and principal copies; lists of paintings, drawings, &c. London, J. B. Nichols,1833' 
The basic lesson is inscribed beneath the scene : 
     To Nature and your Self appeal,
     Nor learn of others, what to feel.
     - Anon

collection : Art Gallery of New South Wales  
Australian tide disciplined : how wonderful, from an Oz perspective, that Hogarth's original mirror-reverse drawing for 'Time smoking a Picture' has washed-up on these shores.
FIAPCE   -1995-   
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...