Archive for the 'Uncategorised' Category


October 8 2015

Back November 17.


October 6 2015

Uncharted. The Berkeley Festival of Ideas 2015 programme.

Dwellers in the roaring waste

October 5 2015

“To a Fish

You strange, astonished-looking, angle-faced,
Dreary-mouthed, gaping wretches of the sea,
Gulping salt-water everlastingly,
Cold-blooded, though with red your blood be graced,
And mute, though dwellers in the roaring waste;
And you, all shapes beside, that fishy be –
Some round, some flat, some long, all devilry,
Legless, unloving, infamously chaste –
O scaly, slippery, wet, swift, staring wights,
What is’t ye do? what life lead? eh, dull goggles?
How do ye vary your vile days and nights?
How pass your Sundays? Are ye still but joggles
In ceaseless wash? Still nought but gapes, and bites,
And drinks, and stares, diversified with boggles?

A Fish Answers

Amazing monster! that, for aught I know,
With the first sight of thee didst make our race
Forever stare! Oh flat and shocking face,
Grimly divided from the breast below!
Thou that on dry land horribly dost go
With a split body and most ridiculous pace,
Prong after prong, disgracer of all grace,
Long-useless-finned, haired, upright, unwet, slow!
O breather of unbreathable, sword-sharp air,
How canst exist? How bear thyself, thou dry
And dreary sloth? What particle canst share
Of the only blessed life, the watery?
I sometimes see of ye an actual pair
Go by! linked fin by fin! most odiously.

The Fish Turns into a Man, and then into a Spirit, and again Speaks

Indulge thy smiling scorn, if smiling still,
O man! and loathe, but with a sort of love;
For difference must its use by difference prove,
And, in sweet clang, the spheres with music fill.
One of the spirits am I, that at his will
Live in whate’er has life – fish, eagle, dove –
No hate, no pride, beneath nought, nor above,
A visitor of the rounds of God’s sweet skill.
Man’s life is warm, glad, sad, ’twixt loves and graves,
Boundless in hope, honoured with pangs austere,
Heaven-gazing; and his angel-wings he craves: –
The fish is swift, small-needing, vague yet clear,
A cold, sweet, silver life, wrapped in round waves,
Quickened with touches of transporting fear.”


Leigh Hunt’s remarkable The Fish, the Man, and the Spirit (1836), quoted (or most of it) in one of John Julius Norwich’s Crackers (last post but one).

The useless fins, ie arms, are presumably genetically descended from real ones, and the creatures which came out of the sea did have to adapt to breathing sword-sharp air (quite an ordeal), so these lines have an almost, if prematurely, Darwinian feel.

He appends a note:

“As the transition from the ludicrous to the grave, in these verses, might otherwise appear too violent, the reader will permit me to explain how they arose. The first sonnet was suggested by a friend’s laughing at a description I was giving him of the general aspect of fish (in which, by the way, if anybody is curious, let him get acquainted with them in Mr. Yarrell’s excellent work on ‘British Fishes,’ now in course of publication [Yarrell knew Darwin]); the second sonnet, being a lover of fair play, I thought but a just retort to be allowed to those fellow-creatures of ours, who so differ with us in eyeballs and opinions; and the third, not liking to leave a quarrel unsettled, and having a tendency to push a speculation as far as it will go, especially into those calm and heavenward regions from which we always return the better, if we calmly enter them, naturally became as serious as the peace of mind is, with which all speculations conclude that have harmony and lovingness for their real object. The fish, in his retort, speaks too knowingly of his human banterer, for a fish; but it will be seen, that a Spirit animates him for the purpose.”


Image:, artist not stated, but Jessie Willcox Smith, illustration for The Water Babies

Simenon 192

October 2 2015

Georges Simenon’s 192 proper novels (not story collections or anything else) written under his own name. The list shows the order of publication even within a year. This is well under half his output.

Gide: “Je tiens Simenon pour un grand romancier, le plus grand peut-être et le plus vraiment romancier que nous ayons en littérature française aujourd’hui.” Cahiers du Nord double issue, 1939. The statement is usually misquoted or mistranslated.

  1. Monsieur Gallet, décédé 1931
  2. Le pendu de Saint-Pholien 1931
  3. Le charretier de « La Providence » 1931
  4. Le chien jaune 1931
  5. Pietr-le-Letton 1931
  6. La nuit du carrefour 1931
  7. Un crime en Hollande 1931
  8. Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas 1931
  9. La tête d’un homme 1931
  10. Le relais d’Alsace 1931
  11. La danseuse du Gai-Moulin 1931
  12. La guinguette à deux sous 1931
  13. L’ombre chinoise 1932
  14. L’affaire Saint-Fiacre 1932
  15. Chez les Flamands 1932
  16. Le fou de Bergerac 1932
  17. Le port des brumes 1932
  18. Le passager du « Polarlys » 1932
  19. Liberty Bar 1932
  20. Les fiançailles de Mr. Hire (M. Hire in later editions) 1933
  21. Le coup de lune 1933
  22. La maison du canal 1933
  23. L’écluse n° 1 1933
  24. L’Âne Rouge 1933
  25. Les gens d’en face 1933
  26. Le haut-mal 1933
  27. L’homme de Londres 1933
  28. Maigret 1934
  29. Le locataire 1934
  30. Les suicidés 1934
  31. Les Pitard 1935
  32. Les clients d’Avrenos 1935
  33. Quartier nègre 1935
  34. L’évadé 1936
  35. Long cours 1936
  36. Les demoiselles de Concarneau 1936
  37. 45° à l’ombre 1936
  38. Le testament Donadieu 1937
  39. L’assassin 1937
  40. Le blanc à lunettes 1937
  41. Faubourg 1937
  42. Ceux de la soif 1938
  43. Chemin sans issue 1938
  44. Les rescapés du « Télémaque » 1938
  45. Les trois crimes de mes amis 1938
  46. Le suspect 1938
  47. Les sœurs Lacroix 1938
  48. Touriste de bananes ou Les dimanches de Tahiti 1938
  49. Monsieur La Souris 1938
  50. La marie du port 1938
  51. L’homme qui regardait passer les trains 1938
  52. Le Cheval-Blanc 1938
  53. Le Coup de Vague 1939
  54. Chez Krull 1939
  55. Le bourgmestre de Furnes 1939
  56. Malempin 1940
  57. Les inconnus dans la maison 1940
  58. Cour d’assises 1941
  59. Bergelon 1941
  60. L’outlaw 1941
  61. Il pleut, bergère … 1941
  62. Le voyageur de la « Toussaint » 1941
  63. La maison des sept jeunes filles 1941
  64. Oncle Charles s’est enfermé 1942
  65. La veuve Couderc 1942
  66. Cécile est morte 1942
  67. Les caves du Majestic 1942
  68. La maison du juge 1942
  69. Le fils Cardinaud 1942
  70. La verité sur Bébé Donge 1942
  71. Signé Picpus 1944
  72. L’Inspecteur Cadavre 1944
  73. Félicie est là 1944
  74. Le rapport du gendarme 1944   
  75. La fenêtre des Rouet 1945
  76. La fuite de Monsieur Monde 1945
  77. L’aîné des Ferchaux 1945
  78. Les noces de Poitiers 1946
  79. Trois chambres à Manhattan 1946
  80. Le cercle des Mahé 1946
  81. Au bout du rouleau 1947
  82. Maigret se fâche 1947
  83. Maigret à New-York 1947
  84. Lettre à mon juge 1947
  85. Le clan des Ostendais 1947
  86. Le destin des Malou 1947
  87. Le passager clandestin 1947
  88. Le bilan Malétras 1948
  89. La Jument Perdue 1948
  90. Maigret et son mort 1948
  91. Les vacances de Maigret 1948
  92. La neige était sale 1948
  93. Pedigree 1948
  94. Le fond de la bouteille 1949
  95. La première enquête de Maigret 1949
  96. Les fantômes du chapelier 1949
  97. Mon ami Maigret 1949
  98. Le quatre jours du pauvre homme 1949
  99. Maigret chez le coroner 1949
  100. Un nouveau dans la ville 1950
  101. Maigret et la vieille dame 1950
  102. L’amie de Madame Maigret 1950
  103. L’enterrement de Monsieur Bouvet 1950
  104. Les volets verts 1950
  105. Tante Jeanne 1951
  106. Les mémoires de Maigret 1951
  107. Le temps d’Anaïs 1951
  108. Maigret au Picratt’s 1951
  109. Maigret en meublé 1951
  110. Une vie comme neuve 1951
  111. Maigret et la Grande Perche 1951
  112. Marie qui louche 1952
  113. Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters 1952
  114. La mort de Belle 1952
  115. Le revolver de Maigret 1952
  116. Les frères Rico 1952
  117. Maigret et l’homme du banc 1953
  118. Antoine et Julie 1953
  119. Maigret a peur 1953
  120. L’escalier de fer 1953   
  121. Feux rouges 1953
  122. Maigret se trompe 1953
  123. Crime impuni 1954
  124. Maigret à l’école 1954
  125. Maigret et la jeune morte 1954
  126. L’horloger d’Everton 1954
  127. Le grand Bob 1954
  128. Maigret chez le ministre 1954
  129. Maigret et le corps sans tête 1955
  130. Les témoins 1955
  131. La boule noire 1955
  132. Maigret tend un piège 1955
  133. Les complices 1956
  134. En cas de malheur 1956
  135. Un échec de Maigret 1956
  136. Le petit homme d’Arkhangelsk 1956
  137. Maigret s’amuse 1957
  138. Le fils 1957
  139. Le nègre 1957
  140. Maigret voyage 1957
  141. Strip-tease 1958
  142. Les scrupules de Maigret 1958
  143. Le président 1958
  144. Le passage de la ligne 1958
  145. Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants 1959
  146. Une confidence de Maigret 1959
  147. La vieille 1959
  148. Le veuf 1959
  149. Dimanche 1959
  150. Maigret aux assises 1960
  151. L’ours en peluche 1960
  152. Maigret et les vieillards 1960
  153. Betty 1961
  154. Le train 1961
  155. Maigret et le voleur paresseux 1961
  156. La porte 1962
  157. Les autres 1962
  158. Maigret et les braves gens 1962
  159. Maigret et le client de samedi 1962
  160. Maigret et le clochard 1963
  161. Les anneaux de Bicêtre 1963
  162. La colère de Maigret 1963
  163. La chambre bleue 1964
  164. L’homme au petit chien 1964
  165. Maigret et le fantôme 1964
  166. Maigret se défend 1964
  167. Le petit saint 1965
  168. Le train de Venise 1965
  169. La patience de Maigret 1965
  170. Le confessionnal 1966
  171. La mort d’Auguste 1966
  172. Maigret et l’affaire Nahour 1966
  173. Le chat 1967
  174. Le voleur de Maigret 1967
  175. Le déménagement 1967
  176. Maigret à Vichy 1968
  177. La prison 1968
  178. Maigret hésite 1968
  179. La main 1968
  180. L’ami d’enfance de Maigret 1968
  181. Il y a encore des noisetiers 1969
  182. Novembre 1969
  183. Maigret et le tueur 1969
  184. Maigret et le marchand de vin 1970
  185. Le riche homme 1970
  186. La folle de Maigret 1970
  187. La disparition d’Odile 1971
  188. Maigret et l’homme tout seul 1971
  189. La cage de verre 1971
  190. Maigret et l’indicateur 1971
  191. Les innocents 1972
  192. Maigret et Monsieur Charles 1972

Le coup de lune


August 15 2015

Back September 28.


July 28 2015

Back August 3.


July 16 2015

On which note:

Back July 20.

Family portrait

July 16 2015


By @bhgross144

Pluto shouldn’t really be there without Eris, Makemake, Haumea and Ceres, but he was part of the family from 1930 to 2006.


July 15 2015

Pluto 2015

July 14


July 3 2015

Back July 6.


June 13 2015

Back June 22.


June 13 2015

The Wagon Passes, from Elgar, Nursery Suite. Ulster Orchestra, Bryden Thomson.

Or, as Elgar actually wrote, The Waggon (Passes).

Tuba concerto

June 4 2015

Vaughan Williams, 1954. Patrick Harrild, tuba; London Symphony Orchestra, Bryden Thomson.

Prelude: Allegro moderato

Romanza: Andante sostenuto

Finale: Rondo alla tedesca, allegro.


June 4 2015

Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.

[Footnote: ShirleyDeath the Leveller, the closing lines.]

A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954

Odi et amo

June 1 2015

Odi et amo: quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

[Footnote: Catullus, Q. V.: Carmina, No. lxxxv.]

“I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why.
I do not know, but I feel it happen and I am torn apart.”

A Study of History, Vol VIII, OUP, 1954

Leonardo and digital death

May 27 2015

“Eschew a line of study in which the work done dies together with the worker.” [Footnote: “Fuggi quello studio del quale la resultante opera more insieme coll’ operante d’essa” – Leonardo da Vinci, in The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, compiled and edited from the original MSS. by J. P. Richter, 2nd ed. (Oxford 1939, University Press, 2 vols.), vol. ii, p. 244, No. 1169.]

So don’t blog. There are no defences against the whims of providers and obsolescence of software.

A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954

Two portraits

May 12 2015

Mozart Elgar

Composers doing normal shit

May 1 2015


Click image.

Berlin ’45

April 24 2015

German ack-ack (anti-aircraft fire) audible during a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto: Walter Gieseking, Grosses Berliner Rundfunk Orchester, Artur Rother. Saal No 1, Haus des Rundfunks (Reichsender Berlin), Berlin, January 23 1945.

This was the very day on which Russian troops crossed the Oder, and the day of the execution of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke.

You hear it at around 13:30 and 16:50 in the first movement and perhaps earlier. I am not sure that there is anything in the later movements. Can you also hear bombs? More below.

The date is given here and here. I believe it is correct. Other sources, including this, and the YouTube poster, give it as September or October 1944.

The performance was, we are told, a rehearsal and never broadcast. It is said to be the only complete wartime recording of any classical work in stereo.

Who was doing the bombing? Both dates were after the main raids of 1943-44. The USAAF had often bombed by day, the RAF by night. Was that the case here and do we know the time of day of the recording?

Is there a chance that this was directed at the Red Air Force as the Russians approached?

Related post: Bernstein, Barenboim, Ceauşescu.

The altar

April 12 2015

Machiavelli consulting his Livy and Rousseau his Plutarch and De Gobineau his Sturlason and Hitler his Wagner were each led, by his respective literary or musical oracle, to the altar-steps of the same Abomination of Desolation: the Totalitarian Parochial State.

A Study of History, Vol IV, OUP, 1939


March 31 2015

Back April 7.

The straw hat and the dressing-gown

March 16 2015

Self-portrait in a straw-hat

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Self-portrait in a straw hat, 1782, normally in the National Gallery, now in the Rubens exhibition at the Royal Academy (which is only 25% Rubens); she died in Paris in 1842; here are her memoirs

Dr Pozzi at Home

John Singer Sargent, Dr Pozzi at home, 1881, normally at the Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, now in the Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery; Dr Pozzi was considered the father of French gynaecology; he was shot dead in Paris by a male patient in 1918; see


March 15 2015

The end of Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète. Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Yevgeny Mravinsky.


February 8 2015

Back February 14.

Fauré in 1913

February 7 2015

And playing his 1887 Pavane in its original piano version, Welte Mignon piano roll, Paris, also 1913:


February 1 2015

Back February 6.


January 22 2015

Back tomorrow.


January 1 2015

Back January 10.

Michael Kennedy

December 31 2014

Michael Kennedy is a great loss.

Telegraph obituary.

Telegraph appreciation by Michael Henderson.

Interview by Ivan Hewett of the Telegraph in early 2014.

If you took any interest in Barbirolli, Boult, Britten, Elgar, the Hallé, Mahler, Manchester, Strauss, Vaughan Williams or Walton, Michael Kennedy was part of your life.

“I could never understand,” Henderson quotes him as saying on Elgar, “how people could not hear the unhappiness that was always there for me in his music. I never read about that Elgar, so I thought I’d better write a book myself.” Kennedy’s marvellous Portrait of Elgar was an advance on everything previously written. He needed to write the book. I needed to read it.

I recognise what the Telegraph tells us about, including even his waspishness. But the sting was mild. What does it take to be an artist’s friend? Whatever it is, Kennedy had it. He was a close friend of Vaughan Williams during VW’s last years. He knew Barbirolli equally well. He had the measure of them and was the appointed biographer of both. He was not only a critic, he was a full journalist, editor of the Manchester edition of the Daily Telegraph from 1960 until it closed in 1986. His strength as a friend may have been a weakness as a critic. “My biggest failing as a critic is that I like music too much.”

I seem to remember that he stopped reviewing for Gramophone circa 1990 because at the height of the CD era he was given one perfectly acceptable recording of Don Juan after another, about which there was nothing much more to say.

There was a steeliness and stature in Kennedy, despite the unassumingness. It wasn’t reflected glory. I don’t think people felt it because he had known great men.

I had the privilege of meeting him and his wife, Joyce, at a semi-private commemoration of Susana Walton in 2011. He made a point of introducing her. She was from Hull. He married her after his invalid first wife Eslyn died, just as RVW had married Ursula after his invalid wife Adeline died.

He expressed some doubts, in our short conversation, about Tippett’s music, and, to my surprise, hadn’t been aware that there was a CD of Karajan playing Walton’s first symphony live with the Orchestra della radiotelevisione Italiana, Rome (it isn’t a revelatory performance). He must have known from Richard Osborne’s Conversations with Karajan that Karajan had a certain regard for Walton. I bought another copy of the CD afterwards, intending to send it to him, but I never did. I have it still as a spare.

Telegraph obituary: “He would rail against critics of musical elitism, accusing them of failing to aspire to high standards. ‘I want things to be elitist,’ he told Michael Henderson in 2001. ‘These days it seems that people don’t want to put any effort into understanding something.’”

I have delivered a more waspish version of that occasionally. All people who love music want to share it, but to those who say “You mustn’t be intimidated”, I have snapped “But you should be intimidated. You should be scared out of your wits.”

I will quote Michael Kennedy in future posts. He died on the last day of the Strauss anniversary.

Telegraph, op cit: “He heard [the Hallé] for the last time in November, at a concert conducted by Elder. He was frail, effectively lame, but music always restored his spirits. A programme of Butterworth, Bax and (of course) Elgar was capped by a marvellous performance of Sibelius’s fifth symphony. ‘What a work!’ he said as he was helped to his feet afterwards. And with that simple expression of gratitude, a lifetime’s dedication to music reached its end.”

Michael Kennedy by Cecile Elstein

Bronze by Cecile Elstein

Antony Hopkins

December 31 2014

A reminder of how lucid he was. Antony (sic) Hopkins (obiit May 6 2014), was one of the great educators. He was a writer and broadcaster about Western classical music and a composer of operas, at least one ballet, and film scores. What people remember him for was the radio programme Talking about Music, on the BBC Third Programme and later Radio 3 and later Radio 4, from 1954 to ’92. It was syndicated, apparently, to 44 countries. There is somebody in Iran today who remembers him.

Beulah have released six of these talks as downloads at Beulah and iTunes: on Franck’s Symphonic Variations, Beethoven’s 5th, Elgar’s Enigma, Mozart’s Jupiter, Beethoven’s violin concerto, Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto. Here’s the Rachmaninov (whose middle movement was used in Brief Encounter):

On Beethoven’s 5th, from an old LP:

On Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, via Radio 5, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation:

Date of the Beethoven symphony 1959, of other two not stated.

Telegraph obituary.


December 14 2014

Back December 27.

Like to the damask rose

December 11 2014

Elgar, 1892, from Seven Lieder, published 1907. Poem by Francis Quarles (1592-1644) called Hos ego versiculos; also attributed to Simon Wastell (1560-1635) with the name The flesh profiteth nothing. August 4 2013, Dutch Music Barn, (, Jacobine van Laar soprano, Marisa Thornton-Wood piano.

The piano clangs rather at the start (David Owen Norris is also manic here), but nicely enough sung.

Arabian Dance

December 5 2014

Tchaikovsky, from The Nutcracker. 1892. Performers not stated.


November 20 2014

Back November 27.


November 5 2014

An idolization of Man by Man himself, which is patently ridiculous when the idol is some individual mannikin, may be more specious when the blasphemous worship is paid to some collective Leviathan. Yet the state-worship that a post-Christian Western Society commended as “patriotism” and the church-worship that it denigrated as “fanaticism” both turn as bitter on the palate as the hero-worship of an Alexander, Hitler, Caesar, or Napoleon.

A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954

The tailor’s soul

November 4 2014

Muqaddamāt, de Slane’s translation (Paris 1863-8, Imprimerie Impériale, 3 vols.), vol ii, pp. 366-7; chapter headed: “He who possesses the capacity for practising some particular art very rarely manages to acquire another art perfectly […]”:

“A tailor, for instance, who possesses a capacity for sewing, who uses it with the greatest skill, who is really a master of his art, and who has made it part and parcel of himself, will be unable afterwards to acquire, to perfection, the art of being a cabinet-maker or a mason. If he did achieve this, that would mean that he did not yet possess, to perfection, the former capacity; it would mean that the dye of that capacity in him had not yet taken fast. Here is the explanation: it is that the capacities – being attributes of the Soul or colours which the Soul is apt to take – cannot overlay one another on the Soul and can only settle on the Soul one at a time. In order to acquire a capacity easily, and to be in a favourable condition for the reception of it, the Soul must be in the primitive state of its nature. Afterwards, when it takes the colour of this or that capacity, it departs from its primitive state; and, since the tincture which has now just been imparted to it is bound to have weakened in the Soul its aptitude for receiving another tincture, the Soul no longer has as much strength as before for acquiring a second faculty.”

A Study of History, Vol V, OUP, 1939 (footnote)

Moroni’s tailor

November 3 2014

Giovanni Battista Moroni, Il Tagliapanni

Giovanni Battista Moroni painted his noble tailor c 1565-70 in his native Albino. He worked only there and in Trent and Bergamo. An Ingres three centuries earlier.

Some have suggested that the tailor really was a nobleman. The greenish tinge to the face is in the original. He is wearing the very full, loose breeches known in English as galligaskins, which must have been ribbed or stuffed, and an undyed jacket.

National Gallery, London. Moroni at the RA, to January 25.

Vasari doesn’t mention Moroni in his Lives. Nor does Reynolds in his RA lectures. My great-grandfather, George Clausen, a Victorian who, like Reynolds, never mentioned Caravaggio, does mention him in his RA lectures. Moroni (like Velasquez, Lorenzo Lotto, Veronese, Frans Hals) followed the fine middle course which he himself tried to follow, between “the realism of externals” (bad painting in Clausen’s time) and “the realism of expression or character” (brought to a high level in their late works by Titian, Tintoretto, Rembrandt).

Below, Clausen’s portrait of Thomas Okey, Master of the Art Workers Guild in 1914, where one can perhaps see what he is aiming at. As in most of Moroni’s portraits, the background is grey. It has a fine sobriety. Clausen painted good portraits of craftsmen and family members (and, earlier, of rural workers) and a few dull ones of officials. Okey was from the East End and was helped by Toynbee Hall. He worked for thirty years not as a tailor, but as a basket-maker in Spitalfields, and rose to become, in 1919, when there was more social mobility than now, the first Professor of Italian at Cambridge.

Excuse cropping: best image I have.

George Clausen, Thomas Okey colour 2


October 9 2014

Back October 31.

Still lifes

October 1 2014

Would anyone go to a blockbuster still life exhibition? I would, even if by the end I longed to escape and hungered for a landscape or figure. It’s hard to find a book on still life, but it might be soothing to indulge oneself in something so limited. Still life, or it could equally be Roman Britain, the history of Australia, French tapestries or the Palliser novels.

Small differences would become important. And there’s a lost language of allegory and symbols to learn.

And seventeenth-century lemons, pomegranates, loaves and fish have more DNA, more layers of reality, than their etiolated supermarket descendants.

We rarely see a butcher (or butchery, as they call them in Africa), never mind abattoir. In the middle east, even urban families are about to start slaughtering animals in their own bathrooms for Eid al-Adha.

Joachim Beuckelaer, Kitchen scene with Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary

Joachim Beuckelaer (1533-75), Kitchen Scene with Jesus in the House of Martha and Mary (1566)

Jacopo da Empoli, Still Life

Jacopo da Empoli (1551-1640), Still Life (c 1625)

Luis Meléndez, Still Life with Apples, Grapes, Melons, Bread, Jug and Bottle

Luis Meléndez (1716-80), Still Life with Apples, Grapes, Melons, Bread, Jug and Bottle

Odilon Redon, Flowers

Odilon Redon (1840-1916), Flowers (1903)

George Clausen, Michaelmas Daisies and Cornflowers in a Jug

George Clausen (1852-1944), Michaelmas Daisies and Cornflowers in a Jug (1940), exuberant piece painted at the age of 88

The Chinese Pot (still life by Clausen, old post).

Order of professions

September 30 2014

Top three: teacher, architect, doctor.


September 28 2014

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken,
Or like stout Cortez when, with eagle eyes,
He stared at the Pacific, and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise,
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Keats, of course. From On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. A Petrarchan sonnet written in iambic pentameters.

The planet was Uranus, identified by Hershel in 1781, the year of the Iron Bridge, before Keats was born, and the first to be added to the list since antiquity. It is visible to the naked eye, but had been thought to be a star.

The discovery of four moons of Jupiter by Galileo, and of five of Saturn, one by Huygens, four by Cassini, preceded Hershel’s discovery. Jupiter’s Ganymede and Callisto may just be visible with the naked eye.

Herschel went on, after a few years, to discover two Uranian moons, followed by two more of Saturn.

The first four asteroids were discovered during Keats’s boyhood. Three of them are at the extreme margin of visibility with the naked eye. The first was observed on the first day of the nineteenth century.

The first Europeans to see the east coast of the Pacific were members of Vasco Núñez de Balboa’s expedition. Wikipedia: “Keats had been reading William Robertson’s History of America and […] conflated two scenes there described: Balboa’s finding of the Pacific [1513] and Cortés’s first view of the Valley of Mexico [1519]. The Balboa passage: ‘At length the Indians assured them, that from the top of the next mountain they should discover the ocean which was the object of their wishes. When, with infinite toil, they had climbed up the greater part of the steep ascent, Balboa commanded his men to halt, and advanced alone to the summit, that he might be the first who should enjoy a spectacle which he had so long desired. As soon as he beheld the South Sea [Mar del Sur] stretching in endless prospect below him, he fell on his knees, and lifting up his hands to Heaven, returned thanks to God, who had conducted him to a discovery so beneficial to his country, and so honourable to himself. His followers, observing his transports of joy, rushed forward to join in his wonder, exultation, and gratitude’ (Vol. III).”


“Keats’ generation was familiar enough with the polished literary translations of John Dryden and Alexander Pope, which gave Homer an urbane gloss similar to Virgil, but expressed in blank verse or heroic couplets. Chapman’s vigorous and earthy paraphrase (1616) was put before Keats by Charles Cowden Clarke, a friend from his days as a pupil at a boarding school in Enfield Town. They sat up together till daylight to read it: ‘Keats shouting with delight as some passage of especial energy struck his imagination. At ten o’clock the next morning, Mr. Clarke found the sonnet on his breakfast-table.’” No source given for the quotation.

The earlier lines:

“Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:”

Landscapes (old post).

A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954

Roman Internet

September 22 2014

Architectural style: a kind of postmodern neoclassical, esp one characterised by broken pediments, split gables and brightly coloured faux-balconies with X railings. Used in corporate headquarters from the London suburbs to Bangalore.

Andrew Cover, a friend of mine, coined this c 2000.