Longing for Rustication

Sunday 20th November 2022

Reggie Cresswell longs for rustication, almost as much as he craves vegetarian food with no cheese. In Milan we found a supreme example: a building rusticated entirely, from the pavement to the skyline. 19th century unfortunately but better than nothing. Otherwise the main idea of Milan seemed to be to have a traffic system so entwined that no road was going anywhere apparently, rather like a ball of string that’s got out of control. Buildings of interest occurred, but random and all grubby. Quickly the city dissolves into uniform outlying suburbs from the early 20th century, not unpleasant but boring. Harry and Mr Kitten had found a canal and an antique market which sounded more promising but we never saw that. Byzantine churches of huge ancientness in red brick with stone dressings are a surprise element. And there’s an enormous old castle.

Within though we saw world class items. I hadn’t expected that. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci was arranged specially. The public had booked it solid, so we were ushered in by other means. I’ve never thought much of Leonardo – the Mona and so on –  but this work is superb. I was knocked out. We were brought up to believe it so damaged as to be not worth bothering with. But no! The figures are full and dynamic and the impossible challenge of composition brilliantly overcome. How do you do thirteen people sitting at a table? It’s going to be too wide and they’ll just be in a row. Leonardo has the brain wave of making the supper room a dramatic receding vista with alcoves at the sides for emphasis and windows at the back looking out onto the landscape. Then the Apostles, although essentially in a row, are arranged with great variety, in groups of three, some standing or facing in a different direction. Christ occupies his own force field in the middle of the picture. It’s as Art should be – a design but real – and making little of the burden of being One of the Most Famous Paintings in the World. The room it’s in is remarkable as well – just a bare medieval barn really with high vaulted ceiling, uniform cream. And there it is, half way up the end wall, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The extraordinary thing is the building took a direct hit from a British bomb in the War. The placed was smashed to smithereens. But the painting, and another one on the other end wall, survived.

So it’s totally three cheers and well done to Art.

In its bare White Chamber

In its bare White Chamber

Rustication! Reggie Cresswell's Favourite

Rustication! Reggie Cresswell’s Favourite: Rare to find it Cap a Pe 


Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2022 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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