Lost in the middle of a Welsh nowhere, lived an old woman in an old and cosy cottage. On vacation, as the old lady rented some of her rooms to passers-by and other guests, Rich, our dear teacher, used to spend his time whether in the living room or his upstairs room drinking tea and reading.
Yet, one rainy day, deambulating in the old woman’s house, our dear acquaintance discovers a painting. On a large and dusty canvas a sky-blue river flows in the center and forms a small lake at the bottom of three little and soft, dark ochre hills. In the background are outlined tiny sharp mountains and round clouds, the texture of whipped cream. Small black dots of grass bend to imply the passing wind. Overall static, the landscape seems to be fleeing away from the canvas.
As a teacher, Rich’s knowledge of Art is extensive. Thus it didn’t take him long to identify something familiar in the painting. First, the landscape is Welsh. Second, the painter is also Welsh and as he steps forward for closer examination the name of an eminent artist appears. Cut short of breath, he goes back to his chair, silent.
At first, Richard told us how great the envy to share the news with that old woman was but something was getting in the way to breaking the story: the painting’s price…
Calm falls suddenly on our table while the fourth round of G&Ts comes along.
“I didn’t know what to do,” says Rich.
Neither I nor my partner responded. We wanted the end of the story.
“I kept looking at the canvas until I left,” he says, “and I couldn’t get myself to decide whether to tell her or to steal the canvas. I could have picked it from the wall; very small chance that she’d run after me or even notice the miss.”
“What did you do, then?” I asked impatiently.
“Well. I told her. She had no idea where did that canvas came from. I told her the price too. She didn’t believe me, for her it wasn’t worth 50 grands.”
“You should have given her 20 quid for it,” I say jokingly.
Now, dear audience, you probably start to understand what will be today’s controversy and I can sense your excitement. If there is a piece of Art that tickles my sublime it is L’Île des Morts by Arnold Böcklin (circa 1880).
What would be yours?