Monday, 27 May 2013

Quarrelling and making up - Sir Noel paints Oberon and Titania

In 1834 the Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire and in the following decade there were a series of competitions to chose artists to decorate the new building. In 1847 Sir Joseph Noel Paton submitted the second of these two pictures, The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania. He won a prize but was not given a commission. Parliament's loss is our gain, as the picture now hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. Three years later in 1850, he painted the first of these paintings, The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania - it seems logical to present them here in reverse chronological order. The paintings hang next to each other and apart from the central characters, many other of the little folk appear in both paintings. My photos of the whole pictures aren't that great but you can see a better picture of them on the BBC Your Painting website, here and here. I notice on the site that there is an earlier version (1846) of the reconciliation, here, which has the same basic composition but isn't nearly as busy.

You can spend a long time in front of these paintings, the more you look at the goings on the more you see, smaller and smaller high jinx, and deeper and deeper into the shadows. If you've finished with this painting, you can pop over to Glasgow where this painting with a similar cast of millions is on display. Without further ado. here's my photos of them and a small selection of the details.





















7 comments:

Shundo said...

Perhaps he didn't win because the MPs didn't want people to infer there were similar shenanigans going on in the palace - what a bunch of mischief there is in those canvases.

Sandy's witterings said...

Shundo, I wonder if Sir Noel had been round to have a little look at the goings on in Parliament before he painted the picture. Currently the House of Commons bar seems to be making a regular appearance in the news - I'm pretty sure 19th century Westminster would be no better behaved (if not so well reported)

billy bagwash said...

That is some painting surprised I’ve never seen it before, he’s really stood back and thought the subject through, a portrait or still life is simple you just find the point of light and away you go, this is a very different thing imagination comes from the heart, imagine trying to paint last night’s dream let alone remembering it (try it) would love to see all the breakdown sketches to this picture bet there was a good few, looking deep into it there’s no two faces the same, the size and scale of the fairy’s and nymph’s has been done almost as a symmetric pattern with the insects and animals woven between to fit, thank you sandy for putting this one up without knowing it you’ve just given this sad old art loving hippy the kick up the arse he needed.

Cheer’s matey,,,,,,,

Sandy's witterings said...

Billy - we have these painting carefully stashed away in the basement of the gallery in Edinburgh along with the other Scottish paintings that featured a few blogs ago. They've maybe not been out and about for decades so no surprise you've not seen them. I'm off the opinion that since these paintings are ours you should be able to take them out for little outings - a bit like collecting your granny from an old folks home for the afternoon and taking her to the seaside (not my granny of course - she'd be 109 by now and collecting her would require a spade). I think these two pictures would enjoy a trip to Wiltshire for the afternoon. For some reason I feel the Lamb In Devises would suit, that little wooden bars and sunlight filtering in the windows, not too many people. I'd prop em up on a couple of seats and admire them over a few pints of 6X.
Nice hat on your new profile picture :)

Sandy's witterings said...

Grammar Sandy - good grief boy!!!
In the last comment, I'm not "off the opinion" at all, I'm very much still on the opinion. It should be "of the opinion" of course.

Poppy (aka Val) said...

Beautiful paintings, thanks for sharing them with us :) I like your idea of them travelling around the country :D

Sandy's witterings said...

Hi Val - On the subject of driving paintings about the country in the back of my car (commonly known as the beardmobile), when I was at Drumlanrig a few weeks ago, the tour guide was saying that the old duke used to alternate his Rembrandt and Da Vinci between two of his homes (doesn't everyone?) - he used to just chuck them in the back of the car and drive them between them himself. For any international art thieves passing by - that doesn't happen anymore.