Wednesday, 18 July 2007

A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling -- Hans Holbein the Younger

Hi everyone -- this is the last picture. Hope you enjoyed the sequence.

See the picture.

‘Oh this cold. Let me have another handkerchief. I don’t believe I’ve stopped sniffling since I came to this house. Sometimes I wonder how I will survive here for the rest of my life – not that it’ll be long if Madam won’t let us have a fire in our chamber very soon.

‘Still, at least I’ve got Dash. There is no more pretty pet than a squirrel, I can tell you, can’t I, Dash, yes I can. See him take this nut from my own lips… There. He loves me well, don’t you Dash, and so you should for you sleep in a nest by my own pillow. If you could see him race about the chamber it would do your spirits good. He is so quick! So nimble. But that’s why we have to keep you chained when we’re down here, don’t we Dash. That’s why you have to wear that heavy chain, isn’t it. He’d be up in the rafters before you could say ‘knife’, dropping I know not what on us and pulling straws out of the thatch.

‘And he listens well, don’t you Dash. He hears all my small woes, and comforts me. He is a good listener and one who keeps counsel. Not like Chatty here. Chatty listens to what is best left unheard and repeats it. Chatty is Madam’s pet, and a fine pair they make.’

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Adoration of the Kings -- Vincenzo Foppa

See the picture here.

- No, Sir, I’m not the artist. I’m just tall for my age, Sir.
- He’s out, Sir.
- Perhaps at the end of the day. Or perhaps not.
- Certainly you can wait. But please don’t think me rude if I go on working. I have to get this done before the master returns–
- Yes, probably at sunset, Sir. Not that chair, it’s covered in… Oh Sir, there’s a rag in that dish there. Wouldn’t you prefer to go to the inn at–
- No, of course it’s no trouble, but as I said, I have to get this done… I’m putting on the gold. It must be layered, you see, and it’ll be set with gems and–
- Caspar’s turban, Sir, and his buttons. See, that’s where the stones will be.
- Yes it will. Quite good enough for the Pope himself.
- Sir, I don’t mean to trouble you, but my light? … A little to the left, no the right.

- I’m sorry Sir, I was miles–
- Yes, I’m the boy in the blue tunic. The Master often takes his models from the–
- She was a lady on her way to–
- No, Sir, the Master is respectable, and married.
- Yes, she had a baby and the Master asked her to sit for him, because–
- Well he might, if he thinks your face is suitable. He is working on a scene with angels and shepherds. Perhaps he’ll need a shepherd…
- Oh, no, Sir, I didn’t mean that, but you hardly look like an angel, Sir, and you did ask about modelling and I’m not the page of a great king, Sir, but I can still be one in a picture–
- No Sir, he’s never done a portrait of an apothecary, but I’m sure if he ever did you’d be the–
- What’s that, Sir? Yes, he would miss that. It’s a sketch for the picture he’s working on. I think it blew on to the floor when you came in.
- I couldn’t say – you’d have to discuss it with the Master. There might be something he’d trade for it.
- Yes, the light is going.
- No, there’s no wine here. You could try the inn down the road… I’ll tell the Master that’s where you are.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Saint Michael triumphant over the Devil with the Donor Antonio Juan -- Bartolomé Bermejo

See the picture here.

‘I’ll put the devil out of frame. Just a tail or so to–’

‘That’s not what I want, Bartolomé. I want something to make the children squeal.’

‘I see. I’ll have a think about it, AJ.’

‘You should speak to Mijo.’

‘Mijo the drunk?’

‘He saw the devil once. It’s why he drinks.’

‘I see.’


‘Mijo, tell the man what you saw.’

‘Señores, It had the head of a fish and four eyes. Two in the usual Godfearing place, and two on its nips. Red ones. And it had chicken’s arms…’

‘Chickens don’t have…’

‘Chicken’s feet for arms. With snake elbows.’

‘Snakes don’t have…’

‘Shh, AJ, don’t interrupt him – this is useful.’

‘And a tongue like this…’

‘Put it away Mijo. No-one’s…’

‘Let him speak. Go on Mijo.’

‘Bat wings and the ears for hearing of sins. And a mouth in its belly. With snakes and the hindquarters of a goat…’

‘In its belly, Mijo?’

‘No, behind its forequarters. A lizard’s tail, with spines and…’

‘This man’s an idiot. I’ve wasted your time, Bartolomé. Snakes’ elbows.’

‘No, wait, he’s given me an… Mijo, this is for you. Maybe spend it on a bath and a shave… No? Well whatever pleases you. Come on AJ. Let’s take a stroll round the fish market, and then to Brutus’ slaughterhouse. I’ll paint you a devil that will have children fleeing the church.’