8.30 am. A visit to the churches of St Mary-at-Hill and St Margret Patten, Billingsgate, in the vicinity of my hotel. The former survived both the Great Fire of London (astonishing, because Pudding Lane is close by), and the blitz:
9.30 am. On to the Tate Britain, to see Late Turner. One of the Tate’s exterior walls is bespotted with the wounds of shrapnel from enemy bombing. Buildings do not heal by themselves. (Much like us in that respect … assistance is required.):
The ‘Painting set free’. Alas, the exhibition was not. Observations from ‘The Black Notebook’ (January 2, 2008-), 184-5:
There’s no boundary between the observed and the imagined / angels in the Alps / T. was least good when he was most particular / anticipations of John Martin / an impressionism of memory / T. had the capacity for consistent hard work even when his health was failing / you have to believe in the incontrovertible worth of your art to persist so defiantly / sketchbook autography: I’m sensible of his presence / there are some quite appalling examples of figure drawing; he was not cursed by exceptional draughtsmanship / every artist lacks something, and this deficiency contributes to their visual identity as much as the things that they do exceptionally well / an independence of painted form and graphic description in some of the watercolours / I see in some of the works de Chirico and Delvaux – a proto-Surreality: War: The Exile and the Rock Limpet — the figure of Napoleon seems to belong to another style of painting — another painting — altogether / sometimes, only the titles anchor the painting’s subject in the earthly realms / black sails in Peace: Burial at Sea remind me of the escutcheon plaques in Saenredam’s church interiors / the sea, like a vast pot of turbulent pigment / T. rendered the world inundated with paint – a primal, pigmental deluge / in the final paintings, he brings together the abstraction and lightness of the earlier watercolours with the substantiality of oil / the last paintings are unfinished, perhaps; but they are resolved, certainly.
12.40 pm. The homeward journey. 6.00 pm. I caught up on emails and uploads, and put away my life of the last few days.