László de Lombos, from Budapest via Paris, 1912.
László had not only painted the Austrian foreign secretary, Count Berchtold, regarded by many as responsible for the war; he had also been ennobled by Emperor Franz Josef in 1912. After warnings, he was arrested in the summer of 1917 and accused of making contact with the enemy by sending letters to his mother and brother. He was locked up in Brixton prison and Holloway internment camp as an enemy alien. He didn't sympathise with the enemy: the range of his sitters reveals his even-handedness. He was released due to ill-health, but was not vindicated until the summer of 1919. He had been unable to paint anyone outside his own family for two years.
Served fermented shark on bone china. Feet washed in crushed ice. Scalp massage with olive oil and surgical spirit. Travelled to take Mrs Edmund Buchanan, 1929. That painting of particular value to me, because of something about to be lost: by war, the occult and communism in accidental alliance. Everything, on the brink! Thence execute escape, underground and inconspicious, tossing bombs at carriages, blinded by vodka in Siberia.
'Inviting a friend to Supper', Ben Jonson.
Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house and I
Do equally desire your company;
Not that we think us worthy such a guest,
But that your worth will dignify our feast
With those that come; whose grace may make that seem
Something, which else could hope for no esteem.
It is the fair acceptance, sir, creates
The entertainment perfect, not the cates.
Yet you shall have, to rectify your palate,
An olive, capers, or some better salad
Ushering the mutton; with a short-legged hen,
If we can get her, full of eggs, and then
Lemons, and wine for sauce; to these, a coney
Is not to be despaired of, for our money;
And though fowl now be scarce, yet there are clerks,
The sky not falling, think we may have larks.
I'll tell you of more, and lie, so you will come:
Of partridge, pheasant, woodcock, of which some
May yet be there; and godwit, if we can;
Knat, rail and ruff, too. Howsoe'er, my man
Shall read a piece of Virgil, Tacitus,
Livy, or of some better book to us,
Of which we'll speak our minds, amidst our meat;
And I'll profess no verses to repeat;
To this, if aught appear which I not know of,
That will the pastry, not my paper, show of.
Digestive cheese and fruit there sure will be;
But that which most doth take my muse and me
Is a pure cup of rich Canary wine,
Which is the Mermaid's now, but shall be mine;
Of which had Horace or Anacreon tasted,
Their lives, as do their lines, till now had lasted.
Tobacco, nectar, or the Thespian spring
Are all but Luther's beer to this I sing.
Of this we will sup free, but moderately;
And we will have no Poley or Parrot by;
Nor shall our cups make any guilty men,
But at our parting we will be as when
We innocently met. No simple word
That shall be uttered at our mirthful board
Shall make us sad next morning, or affright
The liberty that we'll enjoy tonight.
Reproduced in tribute to Jim Clarke, should he ever read this again: Thank you for bolognese and vats of Pinot.
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