Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I thought to warn my oculist, I am to see Vermeer

Mind you, he had been so good as to gauge my tolerance for the Aegean, that summer with Tassos, that I knew better than to hazard my gaze at the Fitzwilliam this week on any old impromptu precautions. And so it was that he immediately demanded to know which of the canvases I expected to be studying, warning of subversive variation in that scale we rudely engross as blue. Yet I put it to him, why shouldn't I simply be fitted with as many spectacles as it might take, given the broad range on view and the variable state of their preservation? And so we compromised on a bifocal distribution of filtering, given that I was ill-prepared to prescribe for myself on the spot. 

Leonard, who has been drawing my bath since we lost Gielgud, agreed to test these lenses with me in a variety of salts, to acclimate me to the shock of the canvases. I think I can say, the glasses elicited an unwintry warmth in my servant that I'd not have considered authentically Dutch. The master's yellow, however, was well served. 

I thought it best to subject Leonard to a brief immersion, as a test of these impressions, because one couldn't be driven up to Cambridge with the consequence of being able to see only the Vermeers. And what should I find, but my own reflection in this experiment, superimposed upon the now neutralised if still translucent flux in which he lay. I wondered how often I could depend upon this quaintly mythological vision - if, for example, the renowned reflective surfaces in Her Majesty's Vermeer might, upon my study, show only me? Whence it is plain I must borrow Leonard for the day, to bring a torch along, and stay on the line with my oculist in case I should get lost in my inspections.

I'm emphatically cautioned against this, on the grounds that Leonard basically hasn't left the bath in some time now, except when I require it; and none of us really does know, how he'll take to drying off. But I dare say, he'll understand it's a great deal more expedient to have a dry manservant at the Fitzwilliam, than having to explain a wet one. We'll pack a flask of lemon spirits.

ii, iv  Mikel Marton photography

No comments:

Post a Comment