Thursday, March 8, 2018

Art Sites and Perpetrators (Four Centuries)

Jost Amman
The Stained Glass Painter
woodcut (book-illustration)
British Museum

Jost Amman
The Blockcutter
woodcut (book-illustration)
British Museum

Pietro Testa
The School of Painting
ca. 1635-40
British Museum

Abraham Bosse
Workshop of Printer
British Museum

Death the Copperplate Printer

I turn Christ's cross till it turns Catherine's wheel,
Ixion's wheel becoming Andrew's cross,
          All four being windlass ways
To press my truth full home, force you to feel
          The brevity of your days,
Your strength's, health's, teeth's, desire's and memory's loss.

The bitten plate, removed from its Dutch Bath
Of mordants, has been set below a screw
          That will enforce my will
Like the press that crushed Isaiah's grapes of wrath.
          My lightest touch can kill,
My costly first impressions can subdue.

Slowly I crank my winch, and the bones crack,
The skull splits open and the ribs give way.
          Who, then, thinks to endure?
Confess the artistry of my attack;
          Admire the fine gravure,
The trenched darks, the cross-hatching, the pale gray.

This is no metaphor. Margaret Clitheroe,
A pious woman, even as she prayed
          Was cheated of her breath
By a court verdict that some years ago
          Ordered her pressed to death.
I'm always grateful for such human aid.

– Anthony Hecht (1996)

Abraham Bosse
Printmaker's Shop
British Museum

Abraham Bosse
Artist copying a painting of Christ
British Museum

Carel Allard (publisher) after Jean Berain
Stage Costume for Sculptor
before 1690
etching, engraving
British Museum

Anthonie de Winter after Caspar and Jan Luyken
Printmaker in Studio
British Museum

A.J. Defehrt
Engraving tools with Studio vignette
ca. 1765-67
etching, engraving (book-illustration for the Encylcopédie)
British Museum

Death the Painter

Snub-nosed, bone-fingered, deft with engraving tools,
          I have alone been given
The powers of Joshua, who stayed the sun
          In its traverse of heaven.
Here in this Gotham of unnumbered fools
I have sought out and arrested everyone.

Under my watchful eye all human creatures
          Convert to a still life, 
As with unique precision I apply
          White lead and palette knife.
A model student of remodelled features,
The final barber, the last beautician, I.

You lordlings, what is Man, his blood and vitals,
          When all is said and done?
A poor forked animal, a nest of flies.
          Tell us, what is this one
Once shorn of all his dignities and titles,
Divested of his testicles and eyes?

– Anthony Hecht (1996)

John Bell
The First Idea of a Grand Historical Picture
(recumbent painter with eyes closed)
ca. 1826-52
British Museum

Thomas Shotter Boys
Atelier of Richard Parkes Bonington in Paris
ca. 1826-28
British Museum

Alfred Elmore
Artist standing at easel
 before 1881
British Museum

James McNeill Whistler
Portrait of Walter Sickert
British Museum

Charles Holroyd
Profile portrait of Walter Sickert
British Museum

Poems from the archives of Poetry (Chicago)