Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The Capel Family -- Cornelius Johnson

See the picture.

I am looking at the artist, whom we called Master Cornelius – I remember him in his smock peering round his picture to look at us. Sometimes he would race forwards to look closely a detail on our clothes and then he scuttled back like a mouse heading for its hole.

Most of the time, there was nothing to see however, because the canvas was in the way. Tiz is giving Baby a rose, so she’s watching him. I don’t know what sort of rose it is – I think perhaps Master Cornelius must have drawn it from memory, because it doesn’t look like any variety I know.

Charles is happy because Dad is holding him. I remember Dad making a joke about how he had to hold Charlie. If he let go, Charlie would wriggle so much that Master Cornelius would paint three of him.

Arthur on the edge has his hand on Dad’s chair. It looks like Dad is so cross with him that he is not looking at him, but he’s not.

Mama was so proud of this picture. She used to show people and tell them that Master Cornelius – she called him Master Cornelis van Ceulen Janssens – that Master Cornelis van Ceulen Janssens himself, the Dutch painter, had made this portrait in exactly the way he made the portraits of the King’s (this was King Charles) children, with the curtain and bit of landscape in the background. ‘And do you know,’ I once heard her say ‘he told me twice that Princess Mary was not one iota prettier than my own Mary.’

Of course, children aren’t supposed to hear things like that, but I couldn’t help feeling pleased with myself.


Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Interesting painting you chose as the subject, Clare! I often just glance over works like these and forget to wonder who the heck these people are and what they are thinking other than, "Are you DONE yet??"

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