Sunday, February 23, 2020

Painted Views - Canals, Ponds, Rivers, Lakes, Streams

John Constable
Flatford Lock - A Path by a River
ca. 1810-12
oil on canvas, mounted on board
Royal Academy of Arts, London

Jean-Louis Forain
The Fisherman
oil on canvas
Southampton City Art Gallery

Walter Bayes
Launching the Boat
ca. 1930
oil on canvas
Aberdeen Art Gallery, Scotland

Edgar Herbert Thomas
Sundown - The Glamorgan Canal
ca. 1913
oil on panel
National Museum Cardiff, Wales

Alfred Sisley
Bend in the River Loing
oil on canvas
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Claude Monet
Autumn Effect at Argenteuil
oil on canvas
Courtauld Gallery, London

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
The Pond
ca. 1865
oil on canvas
National Museum Cardiff, Wales

A Muse of Water

We who must act as handmaidens
To our own goddess, turn too fast,
Trip on our hems, to glimpse the muse
Gliding below her lake or sea,
Are left, long-staring after her,
Narcissists by necessity;

Or water-carriers of our young
Till waters burst, and white streams flow
Artesian, from the lifted breast:
Cupbearers then, to tiny gods,
Imperious table-pounders, who
Are final arbiters of thirst.

Fasten the blouse, and mount the steps
From kitchen taps to Royal Barge,
Assume the trident, don the crown,
Command the Water Music now
That men bestow on Virgin Queens;
Or goddessing above the waist,

Appear as swan on Thames or Charles
Where iridescent foam conceals
The paddle-stroke beneath the glide:
Immortal feathers preened in poems!
Not our true, intimate nature, stained
By labor, and the casual tide.

Masters of civilization, you
Who moved to riverbank from cave,
Putting up tents, and deities,
Though every rivulet wander through
The final, unpolluted glades
To cinder-bank and culvert-lip,

And all the pretty chatterers
Still round the pebbles as they pass
Lightly over their watercourse,
And even the calm rivers flow,
We have, while springs and skies renew,
Dry wells, dead seas, and lingering drouth.

Water itself is not enough.
Harness her turbulence to work
For man: fill his reflecting pools.
Drained for his cofferdams, or stored
In reservoirs for his personal use:
Turn switches! Let the fountains play!

And yet these buccaneers still kneel
Trembling at the water's verge:
"Cool River-Goddess, sweet ravine,
Spirit of pool and shade, inspire!"
So he needs poultice for his flesh.
So he needs water for his fire.

We rose in mists and died in clouds
Or sank below the trammeled soil
To silent conduits underground,
Joining the blindfish, and the mole,
A gleam of silver in the shale:
Lost murmur! Subterranean moan!

So flows in dark caves, dries away,
What would have brimmed from bank to bank,
Kissing the fields you turned to stone,
Under the boughs your axes broke.
And you blame streams for thinning out,
plundered by man's insatiate want?

Rejoice when a faint music rises
Out of a brackish clump of weeds,
Out of the marsh at ocean-side,
Out of the oil-stained river's gleam,
By the long causeways and gray piers
Your civilizing lusts have made.

Discover the deserted beach
Where ghosts of curlews safely wade:
Here the warm shallows lave your feet
Like tawny hair of magdalens.
Here, if you care, and lie full-length,
Is water deep enough to drown.

– Carolyn Kizer (1959)

Anonymous Flemish Artist
Road through a Wood with a Lake
17th century
oil on panel
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Henri-Joseph Harpignies
The Winding River
oil on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery

Paul Nash
Oxenbridge Pond
oil on canvas
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, West Midlands

Paul Cézanne
Étang des Soeurs Osny near Pontoise
ca. 1875
oil on canvas
Courtauld Gallery, London

Edward Wolfe
Willows at Charleston
ca. 1918
oil on board
Charleston House, Lewes, Sussex

Georges Seurat
Boat by the Bank, Asnières
ca. 1883
oil on canvas
Courtauld Gallery, London

Jean-Victor Bertin
Landscape with Classical Figures
before 1842
oil on canvas
National Trust, Hatchlands, Surrey

Gustave Courbet
Banks of a Stream
oil on canvas
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford