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Blogosophical Investigations
 
Saturday, March 19, 2005  


How best to spend a quarter of a million or more

I drove my daughter down to Royal Holloway (the London University college) yesterday so that she could attend their music department's open day. While she was elsewhere, I spent the time enjoying the glorious springlike weather and the glorious Victorian Gothic folly that is the Founder's Building, while drinking beer and coffee and reading The Renegade Writer (see previous entry). My current work is paperless, and my Psion 5mx - my only mobile computer - has been down with screen problems for many months. So when I'm away from base, reading marginally work-related books is the nearest I can come to real work.

BREAK THIS RULE: You need to generate lots of ideas.

New ideas are good, but old ideas can be better. Instead of racking your brain to come up with the Next Big Idea, why not recycle the ideas you've already written about?
Now that's what I call practical. Seriously. I don't think enough about extracting extra mileage from stuff I've written. Thanks, Linda and Diana.

If all artists borrow, and great artists steal, it must be the supreme artists who steal from themselves.

But I shall try to avoid repetition in this blog. Tell me if I do it.

There was a little concert for applicants and their carers at lunchtime. Tuba and piano duetting; then clarinet and piano, and then the clarinet solo. Superb. The tuba hit low notes that must have had whales poking their heads out of the water off Cornwall.

This took place in the Picture Gallery. Before the music I had a chance to look at some of the paintings. There was the Holy Land in Pilgrims Approaching Jerusalem, seen through the murk of a style better suited to represent stags at bay on rainy Scottish moors; it's hard to believe that David Roberts painted this from his own experience of Palestine, but he did:

Between 1832 and 1833 he travelled extensively in Spain and Algeria. During the years 1838 and 1839 he visited Egypt and the Holy Land, and in 1851 and 1853 he toured Italy. These visits provided the raw material for many magnificent books illustrated in the newly developed chromo-lithography
Perhaps the process was to blame. I could appreciate the story-telling paintings better. They all seemed to be tear-jerkers: Edwin Long's Babylonian Marriage Market; Sir Luke Fildes' Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward; Millais' The Princes in the Tower; Spanish beggars getting their begging licences from an arrogant official …. The Victorians are generally regarded as being economical with their compassion, but paintings like these disprove that.

The man to whom we owe the collection, according to the college Website:

In the last years of his life, between 1881 and 1883, Thomas Holloway, a self-made multi-millionaire whose fortune had been made in patent medicines, paid well over 80,000 pounds (equivalent to more than 6 million pounds in today's terms) for the seventy-seven paintings which make up the Royal Holloway Collection.

This was the final touch to Holloway's generous endowment of a College for women, founded in 1879 and opened by Queen Victoria in June 1886. …

In 1871, Holloway had initiated a public debate through the pages of The Builder, inviting suggestions as to `How best to spend a quarter of a million or more', a sum of money that he very soon doubled. In fact, it was his wife who was to suggest a college for women as the means by which Holloway's money might effect what, in his own words, he wanted to achieve: `the greatest public good'.
Well, if they offer Blythe a place, I'll drink a toast to the old snake-oil peddler.



11:08 PM

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