Friday, September 08, 2006
Beckett fact no. 67.
Perugino had very little religion, according to Vasari, and openly doubted the immortality of the soul. The figure at the centre of his Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, a favourite of the young Beckett's at the National Gallery in Dublin, looks like he could do a good job of sleeping through his own resurrection. Here's Beckett writing to the future director of the gallery, Thomas MacGreevy:
the Xist and the women are lovely. A clean-shaven, potent Xist, and a passion of tears for the waste. The most mystical constituent is the ointment pot that was probably added by Raffaela... a lovely cheery Xist full of sperm & the women touching his thighs and mourning his secrets.
Ruby Tough is described in More Pricks Than Kicks as a double of Perugino's Mary Magdalene, though readers keen to make the comparison are forewarned of the visual prophylactic awaiting them in the gallery:
This figure, owing to the glittering vitrine behind which the canvas cowers, can only be apprehended in sections. Patience, however, and a retentive memory have been known to elicit a total statement approximating to the intention of the painter.
Readers here will have similar problems with the sludge bucket colours of the above reproduction, but you get the idea.
Hat-tip to Samuel Beckett: A Passion for Painting, published by the National Gallery of Ireland to go with the exhibition I spent an afternoon wandering round last week.