Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Christina of the Bailey"? "Rumpole's World"?

Some days the Grim Reaper harvests weird couplets of characters.

Friday was one of those days.

Imagine Andrew Wyeth and John Mortimer locked together in death in our minds.

In life, sadly, the painter and the writer never met — at least that I know of. It is fun to imagine the encounter. Oh to be the fly on that wall.

Today, after reading their long obituaries in the Times, I can’t think of one without the other.

Whimsically, their most popular works merge.

For those dropping in from Mars, those would be Wyeth's "Christina's World" (left) and Mortimer's "Rumpole of the Bailey" (Mortimer is above with actor Leo McKern, who played Rumpole in the BBC series).

The mergers have a fine, artistic madness to them.

"Christina of the Bailey" (Christina has her famous back side to the courtroom gallery and to the viewer. She is stretched out on the massive defense barrister's table, pleading before a jury of art critics on behalf of exhibit #1 — none other than Wyeth’s iconic and often satirized “Christina’s World.”)

"Rumpole’s World." (The rotund and rumpled Rumpole in his ill-fitting powdered wig, is sprawled Christina-like in her minutely painted field, staring off at, longing for justice in, London’s fusty and distant Crown Court.)

I like to imagine Mortimer and Wyeth trading just such whimsies wherever they are.

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