A Cartoon for Christmas
This year, the husband and I combined to give ourselves a present, the cartoon at the top of this post, bought at an auction (don’t think we’re getting above ourselves in the art investment market; there was plenty of change from £100).
It is by someone we knew about as a stained glass maker, Thomas Camm, and hadn’t realised he extended much wider. This appears to be an original pen and ink drawing (though that’s a bit hard to say, as it is under glass: has anyone seen another version?) – on the subject of Frederic Leighton’s “Hercules Wrestling with Death for the Body of Alcestis”, first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1871. It’s now in Hartford, Connecticut.
The writing underneath the drawing reads as follows:
“A Farmer from the Country hasting through the Art Gallery with his daughter arriving before Sir F Leighton’s ‘Hercules wrestling with Death’ says ‘See, Jacob wrestling with the Angel’ & passes on.”
So what is the joke? One version in my house is that it is a joke on the stupidity of the country farmer, but that doesn’t quite deal with it. For example, what’s the role of the daughter here? The other version is that there is a joke about bums. The farmer dad is protecting his daughter from the erotic potential of Hercules, and neatly assuaging it by turning it into a biblical scene.
Any suggestions gratefully received.
(By the way, we are in the process of migrating this blog to a new system. There are one or two little glitches still to be sorted, but try it here.)