Tuesday 28 January 1661/62

This morning (after my musique practice with Mr. Berkenshaw) with my wife to the Paynter’s, where we staid very late to have her picture mended, which at last is come to be very like her, and I think well done; but the Paynter, though a very honest man, I found to be very silly as to matter of skill in shadows, for we were long in discourse, till I was almost angry to hear him talk so simply. So home to dinner and then to the office, and so home for all night.

20 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Why, Sam, you never let on that you studied painting, or the complex science of the color-composition of cast shadows! Paint Rage, narrowly averted.

Glyn  •  Link

Pepys: "I remember , Mr Saville, when I was in The Hague when we brought the King home, and went, almost as a pilgrim, to see the works of the great Dutch masters, and the paintings by Mr Rembrandt in the collections of our own king and great lords, the painters' sublime use of 'chiaroscuro', the gradation of colour within a shadowed figure, the way that they can be used to tease out and almost, in a sense, delineate the very character of a person. Pray tell me, Mr Saville, as an artist yourself, what is your opinion of shadows?"

The Painter: "They're black".

(Apologies to Robert Gertz, whose job this really is.)

I wish we could have seen a painting of Sam and Elizabeth by Rembrandt, then aged 56 (perhaps in a parallel universe). At this point he was bankrupt and temporarily slightly out of fashion, so Pepys could probably have afforded to pay for a couple of his paintings.

JudyB  •  Link

It is a wonder that the "honest" paynter did not charge an extra fee for all of the advice given by Pepys!

I can imagine the painter's dinner conversation with his wife that evening about the difficult Mr. Pepys.

Glyn  •  Link

Yes, it sounds like one of the dedications PG Wodehouse wrote in one of his books: "To X, without whose unfailing help and suggestions this work would have been finished in half the time".

He supervises the workmen, he supervises the painter - it's what he seems to most enjoy doing.

Conrad  •  Link

As D. Savill retired as an artist in 1661, I wonder if Sam, & clients like him, had anything to do with his decision to quit.

vicenzo  •  Link

The Paying customer; he be always rite:

vicenzo  •  Link

remember this by john lauer :I think Sam is trying to micro-manage the paynter, which will doom the paynting. But we'll soon know, I suppose.

vicenzo  •  Link

All ye who must take a trinket to get ye dose of mead take notice.
Hodie 3avice lecta est Billa, "An Act for Confirmation of the Office of Register of Sales and Pawns, made by certain Retailing Brokers in London and Westm. and Places adjacent."

From: British History Online
Source: House of Lords Journal Volume 11: 28 January 1662. Journal of the House of Lords: volume 11, ().
URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/…
Date: 29/01/2005

Australian Susan  •  Link

Musique practice
Wish Sam would give us more details. Especially as Mr B's book (see details under his link) is not extant. Did any of Sam's compositions survive? Or did he switch back to performance - more enjoyable.

Diana Bonebrake  •  Link

Commissioned paintings can be challenging and financially rewarding to the artist, but they also require the ability to deal with the client's desires, opinions, and tastes. I bet Sam's paynter got an earful from all his clients, who were, after all, ambitious upwardly mobile folk. He probably had his own technique for dealing with difficult customers.
Glyn, the idea of Rembrant 'paynting Sam and Elizabeth'-fantastic!

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but the Paynter"
Well,methinks that he would have to settle for Rembrant since Van Dyck (much more to mine and Sam's taste)had been dead for 20 years.

Xjy  •  Link

Sam the Supervisor
Glyn: "He supervises the workmen, he supervises the painter - it's what he seems to most enjoy doing.”
Yep. Maybe cos he’s more successful at supervising others than himself, or his wife…
Since his successful supervisions are dependent on paid service or professional obedience, it’s the same mechanism as in prostitution — if you can’t get it for free, pay someone for it. No wonder Sam is so assiduous at becoming rich and moving up the hierarchy.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

(Glyn, any extention of Sam, fictional or otherwise, by anyone is always welcome to me. It was great.)

Hmmn...Sam and Beth painted by Rembrandt,eh?

"Get out of my studio, Englander!!!" the great artist with several apprentices, bodily tosses the fool Englishman out after thirty minutes of bearing his 'advice'. Sam standing by the slammed, locked door in shock...

Now Beth on the other hand...

johnt  •  Link

Interesting use of "silly" to mean something rather harder than today and of "simply" again as a term of criticism. " Simple Simon" we have as the adjectival use but not, I think, the adverb which in present usage has positive connotations.

Douglas Robertson  •  Link

Harder use of "silly"?
Definition 3 of "silly" in the Oxford Universal Dictionary: "Unsophisticated, simple, ignorant. Obs. or arch. 1547." Sam probably means that Saville is unschooled in a particular technique, not that he is deranged.

Bradford  •  Link

Sam's song "Beauty, Retire" (he's holding it in the famous Hayls portrait) does survive. I think this was discussed long ago, but nothing in Entertainment > Music > Songs about it.

The sole current recording is on a small British label, Saydisc 385, "The Musical Life of Samuel Pepys," with a bunch of well-known UK early music specialists headed by Robert Wistreich, Roderick Skeaping, et al. Also includes works by Blow, Draghi, Jenkins, Locke, Lawes, and Baroque Italians.

Clement  •  Link

Sam's Song.
Bradford, a link to an audio sampling (and download) of Beauty Retire is now posted to Entertainment > Music > Songs.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"I found to be very silly as to matter of skill in shadows"

SILLY, simple, foolish.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

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