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Pippa Rathborne's SCRATCH POST

enchanted castleClaude Lorrain, Landscape with Psyche outside the Palace of Cupid, 1664
National Gallery. Image source: National Gallery

“You know the Enchanted Castle, – it doth stand / Upon a rock, on the border of a Lake, /
Nested in trees….” (Epistle to Reynolds)

(FINAL) PART EIGHT

Claude’s Landscape with Psyche outside the Palace of Cupid, inspired by Apuleius’sstory, which Keats sourced for his Ode to Psyche, is a late work of the painter’s, an elegant baroque fantasy with less than the usual “incessant observation of nature” and quality of “Brightness [that] was the excellence of Claude, brightness independent on colour…the evanescent character of light”[1] that Constable valued above all other artistic attributes.

The picture’s shortcomings, its dark, sleeping stillness, as if waiting for someone to step in and breathe life into it, gave literary advantages to Keats. The glimpse of the stone…

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Reblogged from Pippa Rathborne’s CONTRAblog

part four of The Character of Light
John Keats, Thomas Lawrence and the Brilliance Feminine

Thomas-Lawrence croft

Sir Thomas Lawrence. Mrs. Jens Wolff, 1803 – 1815.
© The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Kimball Collection.

We feed on the human drama; it stirs and nourishes us. The painting suddenly looks better. We must forget….

While Pre-Raphaelite female beauty is impassive, the women in Thomas Lawrence’s Regency society portraits are animated, with parted lips, sparkling eyes, and “flush of welcome ever on the cheek”.[1] Lawrence, though dependent on “the wolfsbane of fashion and foppery and tattle” that Keats claimed to despise,[2] captured likenesses in what he referred to as“the fleeting moment of Expression”,[3] the same as  “the instant feeling”[4] admired by Keats in Kean’s acting.

In “his elegant affetuosa style”, the genuine tender feeling underlying his swagger discerned by Constable, [5]Lawrence portrayed women as intelligent, sexually confident individuals and imbued his male sitters with feminine sensitivity, transforming the most prosaic of politicians and bloated of princes into Byronic heroes.

Under the suave surface, he untied his own Gordian self-identity in his paintings, the fundamental subject of art being the artist, in manifold identities. As if enthralled by Keats’ three passing “figures on a marble urn” in Ode on Indolence, sometimes, led by fame, rather than art, Lawrence was cloyingly flattering, but when moved by love, for man or woman, he painted like a poet…

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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