Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Allies and Affiliates of the Art World

William Henry Toms after Egbert van Heemskerck II
Satire on Art Auctions, set in a saleroom at night
ca. 1732
etching, engraving
British Museum

Poem 788

Publication – is the Auction
Of the Mind of Man –
Poverty – be justifying
For so foul a thing

Possibly – but We – would rather
From Our Garret go
White – unto the White Creator –
Than invest – Our Snow –

Thought belong to Him who gave it –
Then – to Him Who bear
Its Corporeal illustration – sell
The Royal Air –

In the Parcel – Be the Merchant
Of the Heavenly Grace –
But reduce no Human Spirit
To Disgrace of Price –

– Emily Dickinson (1863)

William Sharp
Trade-card for J. Clough, Drawing Master
before 1824
hand-colored etching, engraving, letterpress
British Museum

Hippolyte Bellangé
Old and ragged artist praising his young student's work
British Museum

from The Connoisseur

If my father had praised me a little when I climbed the tree,
If when I swam the stream he hadn't looked away,
Maybe I wouldn't need your praise now
When I tell you what the still lifes of Cézanne
Say about pears and pitchers, tables and tablecloths.
You could believe or disbelieve. I'd be happy enough
Making my point with a graceful gesture under the grey eyes
Of eternity, eyes like my own, but colder and more removed.

Maybe my father was trying to prepare me for the world
Where no one listens and hadn't learned what a hardy bloomer
The heart is if watered early. Not watered then,
It never gets enough, though replanted near a waterfall.

– Carl Dennis (1983)

Jefferyes Hamett O'Neale
The Painter submitting his Picture
to the Examination of Connoisseurs and Antiquarians
etching, engraving
British Museum

William Roberts
The Critic Intervenes
before 1953
British Museum

Walter Sickert
Vision, Volumes and Recession
(Portrait of Roger Fry lecturing on Art)
British Museum

Émile Friant
Portrait of a man admiring a painting on an easel
British Museum

Isaac Cruikshank
Octagon Room in the Royal Academy hung with paintings, viewed by connoisseurs
ca. 1790-99
British Museum

Adriaan de Lelie
Art Gallery of Jan Gildemeester Jansz in Amsterdam, viewed by connoisseurs
oil on panel

from Chinese Whispers

And in a little while we broke under the strain:
suppurations ad nauseam, the wanting to be taller,
though it's simply about being mysterious, i.e., not taller,
like any tree in any forest.
                                            Mute, the pancake describes you.
It had tiny roman numerals embedded in its rim.
It was a pancake clock. They had 'em in those days,
always getting smaller, which is why they finally became extinct.
It was a hundred years before anyone noticed.
                                                                         The governor general
called it "sinuous." But we, we had other names for it,
knew it was going to be around for a long time,
even though extinct. And sure as shillelaghs fall from trees
onto frozen doorsteps, it came round again
when all memory of it had been expunged
                                                              from the common brain.
Everybody wants to try one of those new pancake clocks.

                                  *                         *                     *

The trees, the barren trees, have been described more than once.
Always they are taller, it seems, and the river passes them
without noticing. We, too, are taller,
our ceilings higher, our walls more tinctured
with telling frescoes, our dooryards both airier and vaguer,
according as time passes and weaves its minute deceptions in and out,
a secret thread.
Peace is a full stop.
And though we had some chance of slipping past the blockade,
now only time will consent to have anything to do with us,
for what purpose we do not know.

– John Ashbery (2001)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi
View of Palazzo Salviati-Mancini on the Corso
(site of the French Academy in Rome)
ca. 1760-78
British Museum

Jules Joseph Guillaume Bourdet
Baker delivering bread to an artist in his studio, and criticizing the pictures 
(croûte was slang for a badly-painted piece of work)
ca. 1829-36
hand-colored lithograph
British Museum

Antoine Gaymard after Ernest Meissonier
A Painter in his Studio with Admirers
color mezzotint
British Museum

attributed to Salomon De Bray
Frame-maker's Shop
British Museum

attributed to Salomon De Bray
Frame-maker's Shop
British Museum