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TSE  June 2012

TSE June 2012

Subject:

Re: Painter of the Umbrian School

From:

Rickard Parker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 28 Jun 2012 19:17:46 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (149 lines)

On Thu, 28 Jun 2012 15:54:36 -0400, Ken Armstrong
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Sitting in waiting area away from books and computer, I recall Pat Sloane
sent some posts on this, but not what she said. Might be something in her
book --       she was a professor of art.
>
>Ken A
>
>
>
>
>On Jun 28, 2012, at 3:26 PM, "Materer, Timothy J." <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:
>
>> A colleague asks:
>>
>> I remember you told me once that there were several works that TSE might
be referring to in “Sunday Morning Service”--do you recall what these were
or who had identified them?  I’ve been googling around but can’t find them,
apart from the one identified by Southam (Pierro della Francesca’s “Baptism”).
>>
>> Actually, I don't remember if there are other works. I assume Pierro
della Francesca’s “Baptism” is the main reference since it's in the National
Gallery and does show the "unoffending feet."
>>
>> Any other possibilities?



I've created a list of old posts with "Umbrian" in them and right away I
found a couple of things by Pat.  I've pretty much had it for the night
though so this is all for now.

===================================================================

    * To: [log in to unmask]
    * Subject: LaFiglia che Piange
    * From: [log in to unmask]
    * Date: Sat, 8 Aug 1998 12:01:38 EDT

If anyone is interested, I have a paper out that deals (mostly) with "La
Figlia che Piange" and (partly) with the Umbrian school painting in "Mr.
Eliot's Sunday Morning Service." 

Patricia Sloane. "Searching for a Statue of a Girl: Freud's *Delusion and
Dream* and T. S. Eliot's *La Figlia che Piange.*" The Modern Schoolman: A
Quarterly Journal of Philosopohy, LXXV:3 (March 1998) 237-250.

pat

===============================================================

    * To: [log in to unmask]
    * Subject: Re: Sunday Morning Service
    * From: [log in to unmask]
    * Date: Sun, 20 Apr 1997 10:12:57 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 97-04-20 05:53:26 EDT, Umberto writes:

> Pat, isn't it what we call here in Italy "tavola" (which means 
>  tablet, in this case)?  

Yes.

> Who is the author of what painting, if it is 
>  known?

Well, here I have to get "weird."  I think the "painter  of the Umbrian
school" is supposed to be Oderisio of Gubbio, the only painter who speaks in
Commedia. He crawls by in Purg. 11 and Dante compares him to a caterpillar
(note use of word "caterpillar" in epig. to SMS).  

The real Oderisi was a manuscript illuminator, not a painter of "tavolas."
 So he couldn't have actually excuted the painting that Eliot describes,
although he may be imagining it (or Eliot may be imagining Oderisi imagining
the painting).  Note that Eliot says the painting was "designed," which need
not necessarily  mean it was ever actually executed.  So it adds up to a sort
of caricature of stream of consciousness, and we get to look into Oderisi's
mind to see what kind of painting this failed artist  might be "imagining."  

The 2 most famous Early Renaissance Baptism paintings, which Eliot would have
known from the class in Florentine painting he took at Harvard, are the ones
by Piero della Francesca and Verrocchio (assisted by Leonardo da Vinci).
 Neither one matches Eliot's description, though I think we're supposed to
see both as components in what Oderisi may be "imagining."  

If you can read Word for Windows on your computer, I'll send you a paper on
the painting.  It's not about all of SMS, but just the Umbrian school
 painting, which is a very comical image (although a beautiful description).
 If you remember Plato's theory of art  (art is inferior because an imitation
of an imitation), there's a passage in Inferno 11 where Dante makes fun of
Plato.    Virgil explains that art is "the grandchild of creation." You
wouldn't call a grandchild  an "imitation of an imitation" of his
grandparent, or inferior for that reason.

One of the things Eliot does in SMS is use the painting to make fun of Plato,
though in a different way.  If painting is inferior because (Plato) an
imitation of reality, which imitates the ideal, how do we place Eliot's
<description> of the real or imagined Umbrian school painting?  Is a
description of a painting an imitation of an imitation of an imitation?  Does
it matter that the painting being "described" (or imitated?) may never have
actually existed?  I thought the whole thing was very cleverly done and quite
funny, though the sort of abstruse humor most likely to occur to, say, a
graduate student in philosophy.  Eliot read Plato and Aristotle at Oxford.

Can you think of another literary work that includes the somewhat improbable
juxtaposition of Origen and a painting?  The only one I could think of is the
chapter titled "The Errors of Origen" in Augustine's <City of God>.
 Augustine closes the chapter (and summarizes the errors of Origen) by
comparing the good and evil in the universe to the lights and shadows in a
painting. Augustine's "painting" isn't real either--it's a simile.  This is
one of many examples in which you do better going to Eliot's actual literary
source rather than using an encylopedia (which might not mention Augustine's
"painting" in any article on Origen).

Eliot's penitential gates were probably lifted from Augustine's  chapter, as
well as the real, imagined, or hypothetical "painting" and a few other
images.  If you read Augustine on Origen, you'll see that Origen's theory
about Christ (that he was inferior because an imitation of God) approximately
parallels Plato's theory about art. And of course you can't say an imitation
is necessarily inferior to what is imitated--the imitation could  actually
improve on the original.  

In any case, while making fun of both Plato and Origen (who makes the same
error in logic as Plato), Eliot is also making fun of  Sigmund Freud's
<Delusion and Dream>, which is a psychoanalytic analysis of Wilhelm Jensen's
<Gradiva>.  In Jensen's novella, the protagonist, Norbert Hanold, falls in
love with a Roman statue of a walking girl.  Freud claimed he had found the
"actual" statue in the Chiaramonti Museum in the Vatican.  Freud admits the
statue he found was Greek, not Roman.  So how is he going to bridge over that
discrepancy?

Freud, who is never at his best when writing on the visual arts, blames
Jensen for giving "wrong" information to the reader.  To me, Freud's
accusation sounds ridiculous.  We don't know that there ever was an "actual"
statue, and Jensen could have imagined it.   What we get in SMS is a comical
reminder that you can't assume an actual work of art lies "behind" every
description of a work of art.  Borrowings from Jensen's <Gradiva> are
scattered through Eliot's poems. They include the Baedeker in the title of
<Burbank with a Baedeker..." and the erotic scene under a colonnade in the
rain in WL.

Sorry to give such a long answer to a simple question. And I think I
explained it better in my paper. Let me know if you're using Word for
Windows, or, if not, what word processing program you're using.  I finally
figured out how to attach a file to an email letter.

pat sloane

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