18th c. copy and paste…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: frosty, ornithic, irenic, chaffing, azygous, lateritious, and spongy.
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I’ve always warmed to artists with funny names – László Moholy-Nagy, Karl Schmidt-Rotluff, Richard Dadd, Pauline Boty, Giorgio de Chirico, Otto Dix, and that well-known Scotsman Eduardo Paolozzi, and of course so many others. So, when I came across Julius Caesar Ibbetson 1759~1817, I decided that I should like him, just for his name.
I looked him up on Wiki and apparently his middle name, which he wasn’t too keen on and avoided using, was given him because he had been born by caesarean section. Oh, and I learned that he lived here in this fair city between 1772 and 1777, when he was apprenticed to a ‘ship painter’, presumably someone who painted pictures of ships, rather than someone who worked in overalls down the docks with a big brush on the end of a long pole…
Anyway, the local art gallery have recently filled one of their rooms with a selection of 18th and 19th c. British paintings from their permanent collection, and very nice it is too! It includes two works by JC. One is small, the other medium-sized and though different views of the same area both have the same title, Farnley Moor 1759 (near Leeds in Yorkshire) where JC was born.
When I was at art college many years ago, I one day bumped into one of the tutors (a nice chap, James Neal) in the gallery, he said, ‘Come and look at this…’ and pointed out something interesting about these two paintings…
It was something that made me smile, and when I was in the gallery yesterday it made me smile again. In both paintings, towards the bottom left, there is a group of three cows lying down – a white one at the front, with behind on the left, a light-brown one, and on the right a dark-brown one. Yes, the same little group was in two different paintings – I was walking between the two pictures and comparing them.
You’d think the curators might have spotted this anomaly and put the paintings next to each other, with perhaps a little card on the wall pointing out this feature to the visitors – but then, I don’t suppose curators bother to look very hard at the work they arrange.
When I came up with the idea of writing this piece I though that a couple of photos might be in order, but I don’t think the gallery likes you taking pictures in there (I could be wrong about that, but I couldn’t be bothered asking anyone) so, I, making sure the coast was clear, surreptitiously snapped a couple of ‘details’. It was quite dark in there so the pictures are pretty poor quality, but you can make out those mischievous cows reasonably well:

Ho ho! Isn’t that great? Is this ‘cheating’? Is this 18th c. copy and paste?
If at the time people pointed it out and complained, JC might have said, ‘Well, it was a Monday when I painted the idyllic pastoral one, and it was the following Friday when I did the one with the cottage, the cows must have wandered home by then – anyway, cows are creatures of habit you know, I expect they always sit in a group like that – that’s how they like to present themselves…’

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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8 Responses to 18th c. copy and paste…

  1. Sharon Mann says:

    We count on your observations Dave, I must take a look on line at JCI.

  2. Dana Doran says:

    You had me at Otto Dix. Generally, (and don’t let this go to your head, Dave) I read your blog first and then move on to others in my “reader.” But today I read an art history article first…..about—artists inspired by events and other artists—which sort of relates to your three little cows copy and paste thing except that it was about an idea….truth emerging from a well. Haha! I do suspect that the artist attached some meaning or symbolism to those three cows…and kept them a secret.

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Oh, I don’t think Jools bothered with ‘meaning’ or ‘symbolism’ – I reckon he just had a little watercolour sketch of the cows in his sketchbook – and thought it so good he’d use it twice!…

      • ktz2 says:

        Dave that’s what came to mind for me too… ‘It worked once, had no complaints, so I’ll do it again’…
        but I happen to like cows. Back when I was in high school there was a shortcut I walked sometimes, through a cattle grazing area… they seemed pretty curious about me, not at all frightened nor aggressive

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Ah, they are nice to look at, but I don’t think I’d like to get too close to one – same with horses – I just don’t trust large strong quadrupeds with little brains…

      • Dana Doran says:

        Hum, what a shame…..I love a good symbolism.

  3. Well that’s the thing about cows really…..they fit in anywhere, to any scene. Always makes a picture look more homely, don’t you think? Cosy cows. 🙂

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