Saturday, 23 February 2013

Floral Art Puzzle

The BBC keeps inviting minor celebrities to select their favourite artworks from the Your Paintings collection, as though people who appear on TV have better taste than the rest of us. I usually ignore these videos, but Auntie has struck gold with its latest celebrity: art dealer and co-host of Fake Or Fortune? Philip Mould, who is an expert on British portraiture (CLICK). The first painting he selects is Portrait of a Lady, which is an unknown upper-crust woman by an unknown British artist, date unknown. He points out the small posy of flowers on the woman's arm as a possible clue to her identity. The two flowers and a dangling bud (detail shown) are exotic. Queen Elizabeth I sponsored the beginnings of the slave trade. In 1564 she lent John Hawkins her own ship Jesus of Lubeck to be used to transport slaves from the West African coast to the West Indies. Hawkins became so rich from the sale of slaves that he incorporated a slave in his coat of arms (CLICK). The slave's arms are bound in a similar position to the posy in the portrait. Could the flowers be from a plant imported from the West Indies and could they represent a boast that hubby was a rich slaver?


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