I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun - a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away. I must do this whilst hanging from a round planet head outward into space, and with a wind of aether blowing at no one knows how many miles a second through every interstice of my body. The plank has no solidity of substance. To step on it is like stepping on a swarm of flies. Shall I not slip through? No, if I make the venture one of the flies hits me and gives a boost up again; I fall again and am knocked upwards by another fly; and so on. I may hope that the net result will be that I remain about steady; but if unfortunately I should slip through the floor or be boosted too violently up to the ceiling, the occurrence would be, not a violation of the laws of Nature, but a rare coincidence… Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a scientific man to pass through a door. And whether the door be barn door or church door it might be wiser that he should consent to be an ordinary man and walk in rather than wait till all the difficulties involved in a really scientific ingress are resolved.
The Prints (1886). Pieter Oyens (Dutch, 1842-1894). Oil on canvas.
An Italian beauty looking at an album in the artist’s studio. Sets of twins – especially identical twins – are a rare occurrence in art history. Dutch artists David and Pieter Oyens are among the few exceptions. Their work was also very similar, not only in style and technique but also in choice of subjects (generally studio and cafe scenes).
Reading. Ethel Leontine Gabain (French-English, 1883-1950). Oil on canvas. Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
For financial reasons and due to a fall in the print market, Gabain moved over to painting with oils. She sent her first oil painting, Zinnias, to the R.A. in 1927, where it was well received. She also painted a number of landscapes in oils.
La liseuse (1950-1952). Roger Chapelain-Midy (French, 1904-1992). Oil on canvas. Birmingham Museums Trust.
Chapelain-Midy trained at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts and also in the atelier Cormon. After being released from military service, Chapelain-Midy enrolled at the Academie de Montparnasse. In 1927 he exhibited at the Salon de Automne and became a member in the same year.
Don’t talk to me of your Archimedes’ lever. He was an absentminded person with a mathematical imagination. Mathematics commands all my respect, but I have no use for engines. Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.
Fantasy. James Durden (English, 1878-1964). Oil on canvas. Keswick Museum and Art Gallery.
Durden studied at the Royal College of Art, London. He went on to win a silver medal at the Paris Salon in 1927. This beautifully painted Fantasy, while clearly having a ballet theme, is open to multiple interpretations.