Today: the Great Reveal.
Awake . . . at 4:24 AM.
But! I had a sleeping draught. Or the modern equivalent. Some ZZZNyquil capsules. I took two and waited. About 40 minutes later I was back asleep, and woke at 8:10. All told, got about 7 hours, and that’ll put me right.
It had better: today is the big day.
Just had breakfast in the downstairs restaurant. Included with the bill, so that’s nice. Rather flat omelette and a sausage cooked in 1962, pastries from which all moisture had been scientifically extracted. Then out to . . . the Wallace! Down into the belly of the Underground at Swiss Cottage, up at Baker, which you know is Baker because . . .
Then we walk the rest of the way in the bright London morn.
Yes, it’s Museum Day again at the Bleat, where we look at some works that didn’t make the cut to the National, but are worth a look.
Lots of items like this. Enormous pieces of complex machinery that told the time, but of course functioned primarily as status indicators. No, it did not have a special dial marked STATUS. Be nice if it did, though. You get up one morning, it says “Enemy of the People” and you know the day’s going to end differently than you expected.
"What time is it?"
"I don't know; why don't you walk across the room and bend down and look closely at a small part of that enormous thing sitting over there."
I’m not one for dishes and such, but the display for these pieces is well done. It’s kaleidoscopic.
Why it’s the famous Mrs. Cockburn, by Joshua Reynolds!
Yes, Alex Cockburn was a descendant. As for Bone, he was a noted enamelist. The Wallace collection abounds with enamels, as we'll see.
There’s a closet covered in the tiles that once paved the floors and walls. It’s like catching Cupid in the bathroom.
Two immense rooms of armaments. Pistols and rifles. The artistry is remarkable, and you suspect that none were ever used. Meant to be displayed, and nothing more.
Dishes, armaments - usually the rooms I skip. But for some reason I found these interesting.
Imagine this is the last thing you see as you lie wounded on the battleground.
Paintings arrayed in the old style, where it’s not completely easy to see everything.
Oh NOT AGAIN dammit that blood will never come out
Some page somewhere:
Probably exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1824. It was principally brigand scenes like this which established Robert’s high reputation with private collectors. Their popularity led him to repeat some compositions several times and to develop episodic themes. The brigands who operated in the countryside near Rome were a real threat to travellers, though they also possessed some renown as romantic figures and were often depicted by artists.
Everyone loves the bad guys, for a while, if they’re the right type.
Ah! A Poussin. Love his work. Dance to the Music of Time.
The four dancers represented, beginning with the one at the back seen mostly from behind: Poverty, Labour, Riches, and Pleasure or Luxury. These represent a progression in human life, completed by Pleasure or Luxury leading to Poverty again. As the Four Seasons Poverty would be Autumn, Labour Winter, and so on. The suggestion of Anthony Blunt that, unusually for a group of the seasons, Autumn/Poverty at the rear of the group was male is now generally accepted, and the museum now describe him as Bacchus.
Pleasure is giving us a cozening look.
Bar scene, with everyone getting loaded:
Any guess who this might be? Doesn’t have the usual posture of the self-portrait, but c’mon. Surely that’s the artist.
Jeez they let anyone into this joint
Not a copy or an enamel. The real thing.
Remarkable old machinery. Told the weather! They regarded themselves as modern people with ingenious machines, and they were correct.
Google Translate: “ALMANAC PERPETUAL AND ALWAYS NEW. Dedicated AT ROY”
I think that’s “to the King.”
“The story of the Phoenix can be found in this painting. The year we see Expiring produces a New one.”
Other bits of automatic translation:
Ah, the most holy Snor of Jelus.
It was a calendar that arranged the astrological signs, Saint’s Days, and so on.
There was someone whose entire job for a while consisted of rearranging this stuff and making sure it was correct for Roy.
Entertaining time, or vice versa.
A collection of enamels, used to carry around or look at in tender moments. Family pictures.
Don't know who she was, but she meant something to someone:
You can imagine so much just by contemplating these objects - status, the social arrangements, the daily life, the household dramas. They're all mute but if you fall absolutely silent you can hear it all.
The placards indicate that the small portable enamels were also used for naughty pictures.
There’s quite a lot of it. The young rakes passed it around at parties, no doubt.
The rooms are time chambers of French excesses.
Another clock. Now and then you hear the chimes in the room from an instrument that still works. This one had an ingenious design that also made it impossible to read from anywhere but right in front it with your spectacles on:
And here it is: the most famous piece in the collection.
There are a few pieces in the collection that hail from the same era, and you’re drawn to their cluelessness and disconnected reality. You can understand the mania for revolution and head-severing. You don’t think well, they really had it coming. You just think they had no idea what was coming at all.