by Nandia Foteini Vlachou
Is it French? Is it Rococo? Is it even eighteenth-century? The questions are misleading – for a reason.
[The answer to last week’s a-typical is: J. M. W. Turner – yes, that Turner. The painting called Jessica was viciously criticized, and it is tempting to consider this as a symptom of Turner trying his hand in something other than landscapes. The painting was purchased by the painter’s patron, Lord Egremont, but it was reviled in contemporary press: ‘It looks like a lady getting out of a large mustard-pot’, was one of the verdicts, and the poet Wordsworth even wrote that ‘It looks to me as if the painter had indulged in raw liver until he was very unwell’ (there is an excellent entry on the painting in the Tate official website). It is certainly not a painting he is remembered by, which makes it even more commendable that the brilliant David Solkin included it in the smashing 2009 exhibition Turner and the Masters]