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Portrait of Nicholas Lanier
The Weiss Gallery, London
Portrait of Nicholas Lanier (1588–1666)), Master of the King's Musick, half-length, seated, playing a lute, with a statuette of the Belvedere Antinous. Iinscribed 'RE[quiem] / MI[serum] / SOL[itudinem] / LA[borem]' (lower right, on the piece of paper).
Acquired by the Wood-Martin family (Ireland), in Florence in 1779, as a 'Van Dyck' (according to an inventory), and by descent. Acquired in 1936, and by descent to the present owners. Bought by the Weiss Gallery in 2009.
In July 2009, an oil painting of a gentleman playing a lute appeared on the London art market.
It was described as a work of the ‘Anglo-Flemish School, early-to-mid-1620s’.
The sitter had been identified by the late Sir Oliver Millar (surveyor to the Queen's pictures) as Nicholas Lanier (1588–1666), a figure principally known in musical circles for rising to become the first ‘Master of the King's Musicke’ in 1625, but equally important in the world of art connoisseurship as one of the first systematic collectors of old master drawings, and more significantly as one of the advisers to Charles I who assisted in his creation of the largest and most important art collection then ever assembled.
The painting was in poor condition. It had been transferred from panel onto canvas—a drastic technique which is only undertaken when the original wooden panel has become too weak to support the paint layers, and had suffered from retouching and over-painting in addition to the expected accumulations of dirt and grime that obscured vital details necessary for accurate interpretation. Following its acquisition by the Weiss Gallery in Jermyn Street, London, the painting was subject to a six-month programme of conservation.
Nicholas Lanier came of Huguenot stock and was a third generation member of a family of court musicians. He served his apprenticeship in the household of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, the hugely influential statesman and collector. He is said to have then entered the household of Henry, Prince of Wales, after whose premature death in 1612, Lanier remained at court. In 1616 he was admitted to the King's Musick, or royal court band, as a lutenist and singer. He was also a skilled viol player. Lanier was the first to hold the title of Master of the King's Musick; the precise date of his appointment is unknown but he is first named as Master in documents dating from 1626. The post held a pension of ?200 - four times more than Inigo Jones received as the King's Surveyor.
During his early years as a member of the Musick, Lanier was also able to develop his interests in art and connoisseurship, a pursuit which ultimately led to him becoming principal picture agent to King Charles I. In May or June 1625, immediately after Charles's accession, he was despatched to Italy to begin negotiations for the purchase of the celebrated collection of Ferdinando Gonzaga, 6th Duke of Mantua. Using Venice as his base, he also made expeditions elsewhere in search of works of art for other members of the English court. In Rome on 26 January 1626, a license was issued permitting him to export a collection of pictures including a portrait of himself - perhaps that by van Dyck (now Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, see fig. 1).
Back in England by April 1626, he returned to Italy the following year in order to complete the purchase of the Gonzaga collection. By July 1628 he was home again, combining a return to his musical duties with, through his dealing activities, being arguably the most influential figure in the London art market. Forced by the politics of the Civil War to flee to the Continent, he was re-instated as Master of the King's Musick at the Restoration, and continued in that post until his death in 1666.
The sitter seems almost certain to be Lanier. He had grey-blue eyes, a red beard and auburn hair; the shapes of the beard and moustache also conform to those he adopted. The shape of the nose (which sests a break at some time) is distinctive, and common to all other portraits known or assumed to be of him. The sitter's ring also appears similar to that shown in the portrait by van Dyck, as well as in other purported depictions of Lanier.
The musical elements of the picture are of course also apt for Lanier. The lute has nine double courses or sets of strings although, due possibly to old damage, the decorative rose in the belly of the instrument is shown only as a black circle or hole, while the peg-box with its tuning pegs has been painted or re-painted at an impossible angle.
Perhaps the greatest clue to the sitter's identity is contained in the inscriptions on the piece of parchment or paper on the table. Although some of the lettering is indistinct, the four relatively legible words continue the musical theme by clearly starting with the second, third, fifth and sixth notes of the tonic sol-fa scale, namely 'RE', 'MI', 'SOL', 'LA'. It is not impossible that 'FA', the fourth note, has been obscured beneat
FLY – A DOUBLE ALBUM 1971 (for Crawdaddy)
by Yoko Ono
“Fly” is the latest track of the record but it has been made the first just when my last album was finished and was out in the street. It was made in our bedroom in the Regency Hotel in New York on Xmas 1970 on a Nagra operated by John. I was thinking that I must make a soundtrack for my film FLY which was just near completion. The John sested maybe we should knock it off before the 10 o’clock news that night. It was that casual. We did it in one take, as most of my things are done.
I don’t believe in doing things over. When I was painting one day it suddenly occurred to me that there is no line that you can go over. if you go over a line, the line that you went over is a totally new line.
When you use the correctocopy to correct typing mistakes, you don’t go over the wrong letters with the right letters. With the correctosheet you have to first go over the same line again with the exact wrong letter you typed before. Only then you can erase the mistakes and type over the correct letter. I’m always fascinated by this seemingly illogical fact.
It looks like there is some philosophical connection between these stories but I don’t seem to be able to find the word for it now. But the point is I don’t believe in doing things over, and unless it is a really bad take, I believe in the first take.
Another story: This is about a Japanese painter who was asked by his lord to do a painting. The lord waited a year and nothing has come of it. He sent a messenger to the painter. The painter came out and said “Oh, o.k., just a minute” or something and did a one stroke painting while the messenger was waiting in the next room. The messenger returned the painting and told the lord what had happened. The lord was very angry and arrested the painter. “You insulted me by making me wait for a whole year for the painting and on top of that, you used only a second to finish the painting. What was that!” something to that effect. The painter calmly replied, :Every day of the year that I was not painting, I was preparing for the painting, the painting may have been one stroke and it may have taken only a second to do it, but the whole year of pain and joy were in that stroke. The year was a necessary time.”
I used to do things like fast five days before a concert to prepare my mind for the performance-because the performance was not my skill but the state of mind I was in at the time. Whenever I pick up a mike, I’m aware that every minute if 38 years goes into it, whether I like it or not.
What I did in “Fly” was what I wanted to do for 10 years, so I was very satisfied when I did it. I thought of making an album around this piece. It took almost a whole year after that to finally complete the album, though. Another Xmas is coming very soon. The winter is cold and tough-and you have to crawl a long way before you fly. Winter is age. Cold makes you go slow. Fly I a monologue in three stages.
Section one- monologue
Section two- monologue in a dialogue form:
John played his guitar against the playback
of my voice from section one. The guitar
tape was then reversed and put together
with my voice tape, so that the voice and the
guitar ran in two opposite directions as sepa-
Section three- monologue in a trialogue form: John played
his guitar against the reversed playback of
tape section two. John’s guitar tape made in
this process was reversed and played while I
did my voice. When the guitar tape was over
and when my voice was still going, John
played the radio against my voice.
Monologue is a reminiscence of my old days. I used to search for musi-
cians who had the same state as I to make musical dialogues with. But I had never met who can really do that with me on the level that I was thinking of. Female artists for some reason, didn’t have enough experience in expressing themselves with instruments-maybe they went for for usage of a more direct instrument which was one’s own body-and the male artists used to be caught in whatever brilliance they had possessed and were not free. So I ended up always in doing a dialogue. John is the first person I met who knows how to be free, and that is why he plays such a very important role in all my pieces. For instance, you see that section 3 of Fly is a guitar solo with voice accompaniment rather than the other way around.
Most of the pieces in this album are centred around a dialogue between my voice and John’s guitar. John and I crawl, roll, and fly together. John brought in musicians that are fine samurais. John, as a rhythm guitarist, leads the rhythm track, he pushes them to fly with me. Listen to Ringo and Jim Keltner’s drumming. Klaus Voormann’s bass, Chris Osborne’s guitar and listen to the intricate conversation that goes between all of us in “Mind Train”. Chris Osborne came from a guitar shop to sell a guitar to John. He stayed and played.
Thanks to John and the Plastic Ono Band. Thanks to Yoko’s wisdom for allowing
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