Friday 15 July 2022

Another Cloud

 Talking of clouds, here's a painting that, I think, perfectly illustrates Larkin's 'high-builded cloud moving at summer's pace'. The depth and luminosity of that summer sky is extraordinary. The painting, Noon, Bratsevo (1866), is by Ivan Shishkin, a highly accomplished landscape painter whose work is often almost photorealist in its sharpness and precision, but with a romantic flavour, especially when he is painting his beloved forest scenes. This kind of 'poetic realism' was always a strong force in Russian art, and, alas, all too easily mutated into the propagandistic kitsch of 'socialist realism'. Nowadays, to judge by what I see online, Russian 'neo-impressionism' seems to be all the rage. Some of that is pretty kitsch too.
Here is the Larkin image in context – 

'Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.'

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved Baudelaire's 'Les mouvantes architectures des nuages' Seems to float along