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.

04 October 2019

includes 'door de vingers zien' and dendrochronoLOGOS/HA HA

Franz Verbeek's 'Portrait of a Jester' c.1550 has been a longtime favourite here. 

We knew it was up for auction. This text from Koller International Auctions :

The figure of the jester or fool is found in 16th century Flemish painting, such as in works by Quentin Massys (1466–1530) and engravings by Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533). It is therefore not surprising that while in the Hintze Collection, our painting was considered to be by Massys. The work offered here, however, is a rarity in that the figure of the jester is depicted as a portrait against a black background, and the entire composition concentrates on his facial expression. The painting becomes particularly interesting when one knows that it depicts the Dutch proverb "door de vingers zien" (literally "to look at the world through one’s fingers" – to turn a blind eye), still in current use. In order to illustrate this proverb, both the hand gestures and the motif of the glasses play a central role: the jester, who has put his glasses in his coat, looks at the world through his fingers. This proverb reveals an attitude that consists of distancing oneself from everything that goes wrong in the world. By closing his eyes and remaining silent, the individual succeeds in protecting himself. The jester also calls on the viewer to behave just as favourably towards him. The conventional symbols of the jester can also be found in this representation: the yellow-red costume, the cap with the dog's ears, the cockscomb, the fool's staff on the right and the glasses in the foreground. The latter, usually a sign of scholarship, are here associated with glare and deception, because making glasses at the time was a technical challenge, causing their quality to vary greatly – for this reason, their makers were sometimes considered charlatans.

The painting has been dendrochronologically examined by Dr Peter Klein and may have been made as early as 1548.

Last week, it sold for CHF 695 300 (incl premium).

Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...