Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Petworth Mystery 'Solved' --- Day 4/153

Walk: Van Ness, JCC, Post Street Hardware
Distance: 5.6 miles

JMW Turner, Interior at Petworth, 1837, oil on canvas, 35 3/4 x 48" 

More on Petworth - Maybe. Ciwt was researching the above painting she found in her 1976 Abrams book on Turner.  There the painting is assigned to the Tate Gallery, London. and described by the Turner scholar and former director of our National Gallery in Washington, D.C., John Walker.  Walker calls it "one of the most beautiful and baffling of all Turner's works."

JMW Turner, Interior of a Great House: The Drawing Room, East Cowes Castle, c. 1830, oil on canvas

But when Ciwt went to the Tate website, she found the same painting with a different title and a different  year of execution.

Hmmm.  What does Ciwt make of this?  It appears the Tate re-attributed the painting after the publication of Ciwt's book. Off the top, she believes the mix up is due to the fact that the Tate was never to have had any of Turner's work if the artist's will had prevailed.  As indicated in CIWT 4/144, there was great mismanagement of Turner's works and funds upon his death.

Secondly Ciwt believes the painting re-attribution is incorrect, and the painting is indeed of Petworth House - not East Cowes Castle as in the second painting designation.  Further, she is quite sure the room painted is the White Library which he sketched in 1827:
Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘Petworth: the White Library, looking down the Enfilade from the Alcove, 1827’, 1827
JMW Turner, The White Library, Looking Down the Enfilade from the Alcove, 1827, watercolor, bodycolor and pen and ink on paper

The style is clearly entirely different, but Ciwt sees the same piano moved slightly to the right, an echo of the portrait on the back wall, and an overall echo of the arched ceiling.  Probably she would find many other White Library details upon more examination.

Finally, Petworth titled painting was done in 1837, the year Lord Egremont died. (See CIWT 4/151) Finished or unfinished as the painting might be, it seems entirely in character for Turner to be reacting to the dissolution of Egremont's life and his own happy friendship with him and his tranquil, beloved years at Petworth.  Turner's life and heart were in complete disarray as is the "beautiful and baffling painting."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fantasy Plastic --- Day 4/152

Walk: JCC
Distance: 2 miles and yoga class

Image result for Delta skymiles 50,000 card

Down to the wire. Ciwt is confused.  Should she get a 50,000 mile (2 continental trips) bonus card for her imaginary trips?  Deadline is tonight.*

* Later, just under that wire:  The answer is: ....Yes.  Real Ciwt trips ahead!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Another Long Look -- Day 4/151

Walk: JCCSF, Trader Joe's
Distance: 2 miles and yoga class

The Lake, Petworth sunset, fighting bucks - William Turner
JMW Turner, The Lake, Petworth: Sunset, Fighting Bucks, ca 1829, oil on canvas

         Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘Petworth Park: Tillington Church in the Distance’, c.1828
Detail: JMW Turner, Petworth Park, View of Tillington Church in the Distance, c. 1828, oil on canvas            

Ciwt's mind continues to linger on two of Turner's Petworth Park paintings. She wrote about the bottom one in CIWT 4/149.  It was completed and hung first at Petworth House, and about a year later top one became its permanent replacement.

The detail shows a large empty chair, the master in the distance framed by the setting sun and  his loyal dogs running to greet him.  It is a poignant passage subtly presaging a time when the master won't be there at all and only the peaceful, unconcerned deer and lawns will remain. Above it, in the replacement painting, the master and dogs are gone, replaced by a lively game of cricket,  and the deer are active and virile.

The oils were painted a year apart at the magnificent Sussex estate of his friend and patron, George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont who had offered Turner a studio within Petworth House.  The first was painted as Turner's father's health was failing. James and "Billy" Turner were the closest of friends and companions. They lived together for most of the young son's life and James was Turner's business manager/associate as well mixing paints, stretching canvases, running the private art gallery adjacent to Turner's town house and much more.  The guarded Turner didn't get close to many people, so it is nearly impossible to imagine the sorrow he would have been grappling with at the thought of losing his father.

Ciwt speculates that it is his alone and heavy heart coming to accept the inevitability of his father's end that determined the imagery of the first painting.  (James Turner died in September, 1829)

Ciwt also believes that Petworth would have been the refuge he sought to process his sorrow at the great loss ahead of him - which would leave him alone and bereft.  He had been a welcome guest at Petworth over many years, and, by the time of these paintings Lord Egremont had offered him a studio of his own inside Petworth House as well as a commission to paint four special-sized landscape canvases.  Turner would have welcomed the commission and the opportunity to wander Petworth Park, which he loved to paint.  (Turner painted more than twenty important paintings for Petworth House)

Ciwt can also understand Lord Egremont, a man of conservative tastes, wanting a landscape for his Carved Room done more conventionally and in a happier spirit.  That said, he too was a father-figure to Turner, and probably the artist had noticed his friend aging over the years.  So the sense of loss and mortality in the first painting were likely also related to Turner's sense that the years were ebbing for his beloved and generous patron. In fact, In fact the 3rd Earl of Egremont did die eight years after the second painting, and Turner, followed by other artists walked before his hearse.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Something Begins - Again --- Day 4/150

Walk: Sundance Kabuki, Curbside Cafe
Distance: 2 miles

Yup, Ciwt (who paid no attention to the original event) went because a more sentimental friend wanted to. Actually as it ended up she wouldn't have minded a few more sentimental moments among the procedural and sermonizing ones. And she sort of can't imagine getting involved in the movie if it hadn't happened in her home town where she could track local venues and personages - like all the truly heroic volunteers from here and points east and west.  Toward the middle of the documentary even Batkid himself - who didn't ever appear to be completely connecting to his day - just wanted to stop, go home, rest.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How Much for No Shadows? --- Day 4/149

Walk: Presidio, Sloat Garden Center, Pier 1
Distance: 4.5 miles and home yoga

Ciwt was asked by an older friend to give input on furnishing an apartment at a retirement community she was considering.  Apparently Ciwt is quite thin-skinned about 'certain topics' because, after spending a few hours in the retirement community, Ciwt was up all night trying to figure out where to place her own pieces of furniture in that apartment. (Memo to self: keep these visits to a minimum).

She also began thinking of Turner's hauntingly poignant sketch for a painting of Petworth Park:

JMW Turner, Petworth Park: Tillington Church in the Distance, @1828 Sketch, o/c,  25 3/x 57 3/8" 

The first study for the painting - shown above - tugs at the viewer's eye and emotions. A solitary figure is silhouetted against the sun as it sinks below the horizon. With its curving composition, long shadows, empty chair on the terrace front left, a distant master whose dogs run to meet him, the whole painting moves inexorably away from the viewer. All this makes for Ciwt one of the most moving paintings she has seen.

It was also one of the most irreverent landscapes of its time, starting with that elliptical structure  continuing onto the recognition of mortality embedded in the work.  This simply was not how acceptable landscapes were to be painted.  Nor was impending mortality the feeling any wealthy patron (in this case Lord Egremont) would have in mind in commissioning paintings of his estate.

Shockingly irreverent enough in fact that the final version - which still hangs at Petworth House Image result for petworth house art collection - omits the empty terrace and is more conventionally painted.  After her day at the retirement apartment, Ciwt is happy for Lord Egremont that the painting he got to live with was more removed and uplifting.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Succulentophobia -- Day 4/148

Walk: Sequoias
Distance: 2.5 miles, home yoga

You know those little things to others that are phobias to you?  Ciwt's father couldn't eat if any of the foods on his plate touched each other. (brumotactillophobia) Her best friend growing up was terrified of all spiders. (arachnophobia) For Ciwt it is rats (musophobia) and, in a milder form, succulents.  Yes, those drought resistant favorites of many which are becoming more and more prevalent as the rains continue to determine our plantings.

Ciwt  sometimes comes home and looks out the window to find that Andy, the gardener, has planted yet more succulents.  Through the glass she sees they start singular, small and unhealthy looking. .  Good!  Ciwt waits for them to die their natural deaths.  But, instead, they get bigger and   heavier and start sprawling out over the edge of the planter box and lumbering across the roof, growing and growing.

It gives Ciwt the creeps.

There is also the problem with the waxy, smooth surface.  It causes Ciwt the same nauseated visceral response as those glossily, slithery Dali paintings do .*

So today she asked the young man who is repairing her deck to take away one of the largest succulents. She feared he would be judgmental, but he was delighted because he and his wife love succulents. AND, turns out, all you have to do is stick them in dirt and they will begin regenerating themselves. (Gawd! But they are happy).  So, it was a win-win.  The succulents (a few at least) are all cut, packed up and ready for a burgeoning new life - Elsewhere!  

*Salvador Dali, Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man, 1943, 18 x 20 1/2", oil on canvas

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Drive! --- Day 4/147

Walk: Union Square, Corte Madera,Trader Joe's, California Shell
Distance: 6 blocks +/-, the rest in Ciwt's car 

Thursday is driving day when Ciwt travels distances, buys heavy things, and today got the ever-traumatic-to-her haircut (hair 'dust' actually, not much taken off at all, but still....).   Now, she finds herself a bit faded, er...out of gas Image result for out of gas.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sick Dope --- Day 4/146

Walk: Sundance Kabuki
Distance: 2 miles, home yoga


Ciwt says Dope is very dope if you want the dope about dealing dope - the 'smart' way.  If not, don't be a dope; you know, skip it!  Ciwt liked it okay: smart, unconventional, some good acting but a little over-long.  Know what she means?