This song, as far as I can tell, is not available on any CD or digital source and vinyl copies are hard to get. So You Tube is one of the only ways to hear it!
|Wreckless Eric in the 1970s|
|A little more recently!|
And if you would like to hear it sung in a Scottish accent, listen to the Proclaimers
|Leonardo da Vinci: The Mona Lisa c1503 - 1507. The Louvre, Paris.|
No photograph could do it justice.
|Mona Lisa has become embedded in modern popular culture|
Listening to Joan Baez singing Love Song to a Stranger (click the title to hear it).This is a live performance of one of the saddest songs I know.
|The area of The Exhibition Estate (as it is known) shown bordered in red.|
|I particularly like this style with herring-bone brickwork set in the Tudor oak beams.|
Designed by Michael Bunney & Clifford Makins.
|Most of the homes have retained their chimney stacks as an architectural feature|
|This house has, unusually, had its two tall chimneys removed. It was designed by |
Clough Williams-Ellis who later designed Portmeirion in Wales where the cult TV series
The Prisoner was filmed in the 1960s.
|Finally, this house won the 1934 first prize by probably the most famous of the architects, Berthold Lubetkin, co-founder of the influential Tecton Group.|
As I am in a good mood I am listening to Jackson Browne's lovely Linda Paloma. Listen here!
|Diego Velásquez: Las Meninas, 1656, in The Prado, Madrid|
This is one of the most analysed paintings of all time and is often described as the most important work by Diego Velásquez, the leading painter of the Spanish Golden Age. It has some incredibly unusual aspects and things that, even today, seem to be remarkable.
The subject is the Infanta (a female daughter of a ruling King & Queen: a princess) of Philip IV of Spain and Queen Mariana. The Infanta is surrounded by her Maids of Honour, Las Meninas of the title, and a dwarf, there for her entertainment. Some of the subjects are looking out of the picture and others are interacting among themselves. The painter himself is on the left of the picture looking at his subject – the King and Queen who are standing where you, the viewer of the painting, are standing.
At the back of the scene their reflections can be seen in the mirror. Also at the rear of the room a mysterious man can be observed in the doorway; it’s not clear if he is coming or going. He helps to create depth in the scene by being placed at the ‘vanishing point’ where the lines of perspective meet.
Notice how the light falls on the Infanta while the two maids are half-lit and form a frame around her.
Incidentally, the red cross on Velasquez's chest is the Order of Santiago, which he did not receive during his lifetime; the King had it added to the painting as a posthumous honour three years after Velasquez had died. I love the way that the long-haired young boy at the lower right is shown trying to rouse the dog from his slumber with his foot. If you click the picture to enlarge it you can see details more clearly.
Listening to Albéniz's Suite española. I seem to be having a Spanish evening!
|Industrial Landscape. L S Lowry 1887- 1976|
|Gwendolyn Brooks 1917-2000|
|Boris, left, with his brother.|
|Lucrezia de Medici by Bronzino c.1560|
Generally considered to be My Last Duchess
My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning (1812-1889)
That's my last duchess painted on the wall,Looking as if she were alive. I callThat piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's handsWorked busily a day, and there she stands.Will't please you sit and look at her? I said"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never readStrangers like you that pictured countenance,The depth and passion of its earnest glance,But to myself they turned (since none puts byThe curtain I have drawn for you, but I)And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,How such a glance came there; so, not the firstAre you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas notHer husband's presence only, called that spotOf joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhapsFrà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps"Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint"Must never hope to reproduce the faint"Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuffWas courtesy, she thought, and cause enoughFor calling up that spot of joy. She hadA heart how shall I say? too soon made glad,Too easily impressed; she liked whate'erShe looked on, and her looks went everywhere.Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast,The dropping of the daylight in the West,The bough of cherries some officious foolBroke in the orchard for her, the white muleShe rode with round the terrace all and eachWould draw from her alike the approving speech,Or blush, at least. She thanked men good! but thankedSomehow I know not how as if she rankedMy gift of a nine-hundred-years-old nameWith anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blameThis sort of trifling? Even had you skillIn speech which I have not to make your willQuite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this"Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,"Or there exceed the mark" and if she letHerself be lessoned so, nor plainly setHer wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse,E'en then would be some stooping; and I chooseNever to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,Whene'er I passed her; but who passed withoutMuch the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;Then all smiles stopped together. There she standsAs if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meetThe company below, then. I repeat,The Count your master's known munificenceIs ample warrant that no just pretenseOf mine for dowry will be disallowed;Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowedAt starting, is my object. Nay we'll goTogether down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
|Ophelia. Sir John Everett Millais, 1852|
Four years before this painting was made the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed in London in 1848. Millais was one of the three founder-members whose main idea was to return to the style of art that they thought should dominate. They objected to the classical style that Raphael and others has promoted, favouring instead great attention to detail, nature and bright colours. In particular they objected to the founder of the English Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds; apparently they referred to him as "Sir Sloshua". On the whole I don't go too much on their work but I think this particular painting is a bit special.
Ophelia was the character in Shakespeare's Hamlet who is depicted drowning in a Danish river. Her death does not occur on stage but is eloquently described by Queen Gertrude, Hamlets's mother. She fell from a branch into the water and floated without trying to rescue herself because her voluminous dress filled with air and kept her buoyant. However, the dress eventually became saturated and she drowned. Another character suggests it was suicide. (Prince Hamlet had rejected her because he was pre-occupied with his 'To be or not to be' soliloquy in which he contemplates the attractions of suicide - it's a laugh a minute is Hamlet.)
There is a very interesting story about Elizabeth Siddal, left, who was a favourite model for many of the Pre-Raphaelite painters and poets. Millais had her posed in a bath of cold water for many hours during the winter while he meticulously painted. (He had previously spent months outdoors painting the scenery ). Small lamps were lit under the bath-tub but they were inadequate to keep the water warm. 'Lizzie' became ill, possibly with pneumonia so her father threatened legal action action against Millais, who ended-up paying all of her hospital bills. Others have speculated that it was her addiction to laudanum that had made her ill. Life imitating art?
Sir John Everett Millais was born in Southampton, England in 1829 and died in Kensington , London in 1896.
Sir John Everett Millais
|Letchworth from the air (www.letchworth.com)|
|The Mercure Letchworth Hall Hotel where we stayed last weekend. |
Letchworth is also the location of the UK's first roundabout (traffic circle)
The town is also the home of this noted Art Deco cinema of 1936......and of this charming old railway station (1903)
|Over 1,000 Santas took part in a Charity Run in Bristol, England last weekend. |
Your correspondent was there!
|A Bar at the Folies-Bergieres. Édouard Manet 1892|
There are many interesting features of this painting that, despite it's late nineteenth century setting, make it quite modern. Firstly it is generally believed to be the first painting to depict a registered trade mark. Can you spot it? I will reveal it at the end of this article. Secondly there is the impossible composition; the girl behind the bar is looking straight out at the viewer of the painting yet, in the mirror behind her, her reflection can be seen talking to a customer at completely the wrong angle. For years I thought it was the back of another barmaid. The gent with the top-hat should be in front of us blocking our view. The girls name was Suzon, who in reality did work there, but Manet had painted her in his studio and added the background from quick impressionistic sketches he had made. She looks sad and detached from her work. She wears a locket around her neck which hints at a love far away from this world with the sinister stranger at the bar with his Jack-the-Ripper-like menace. This picture was painted immediately after The Ripper was 'active' (1888-91).
Eduard Manet worshipped the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez and his painting 'Las Meninas' is the surprising inspiration for this picture. Looking at the picture, below, can you see the connection and the elements that interested Manet? Let me explain:
'Las Meninas'. Velazquez 1656.
There is a strange mix of positions and points of view. The artist, the Infanta and a dwarf courtier are looking out of the picture at the viewer while others, within the painting, are interacting between themselves. Also reflected in a mirror, near the centre are what is probably the King & Queen who would be looking into the painting. Possibly they are the subject which the artist is painting. Shouldn't we be looking at their backs?
At each end of the bar is a beer bottle with a red triangle design on the label - the trade mark of Bass beer brewed in Burton-on-Trent, England. (Founded in 1777 and still going though not a patch on the great beer that it once was since being taken over by Anheuser-Busch!)
|Roger McGough now.....|