G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Thursday, August 06, 2015

शनिवारवाड्यात गोया!...If Francisco Goya Were Present in Shaniwar Wada on August 6 1790

Today August 6 2015 * is 225 th Anniversary of a tripartite treaty between the British, the Maratha's and the Nizam for joining forces against Tipu Sultan,  the day one may argue changed the destiny of India.


John Berger, 'Selected Essays', 2001:

"...There are artists such as Leonardo or even Delacroix who are more analytically interesting than Goya. Rembrandt was more profoundly compassionate in his understanding. But no artist has ever achieved greater honesty than Goya: honesty in the full sense of the word meaning facing the facts and preserving one’s ideals. With the most patient craft Goya could etch the appearance of the dead and the tortured, but underneath the print he scrawled impatiently, desperately, angrily, ‘Why?’ ‘Bitter to be present’, ‘This is why you have been born’, ‘What more can be done?’ ‘This is worse’. The inestimable importance of Goya for us now is that his honesty compelled him to face and to judge the issues that still face us."

E. H. Gombrich on Goya:

"...His portraits, in fact, which secured him a position at the Spanish court look superficially like State portraits in the vein of Vandyke or of Reynolds. But only superficially, for as soon as we scrutinize the faces of these grandees we feel that Goya seems to mock at their pretentious elegance. He looked at these men and women with a pitiless and searching eye, and revealed all their vanity and ugliness, their greed and emptiness. No Court Painter before or after has ever left such a record of his patrons..." (The Story of Art, 1950)

There already are two posts on this blog discussing the picture, reproduced immediately below, that captures the treaty above:

'Perhaps Beautiful but Surely A Fraud: Thomas Daniell’sPainting of Peshwa Court' dated September 23 2007 and 'If Marathas and Tipu-sultan Came Together... एक दरबारचित्र आणि दोन मोठ्या चुका नवीन पुस्तकातील' dated April 28 2013.

The key word describing the painting below is 'fraud' as against the brutal honesty of most of Goya's (1746- 1828) work!


Artist: Thomas Daniell

at the centre of the pictures are Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa, Nana Fadnavis to his right and in hat
Sir Charles Warre Malet Bt


Picture courtesy: Wikimedia Commons and Tate Gallery

The British defeated Tipu in May 1799, Maratha's in September 1803 and went on to become the rulers of India for almost 150 years. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington played a major role in both the campaigns.

In February 2015, I came across the following portrait of Mr. Wellesley in The Guardian 'Art weekly' newsletter.


Artist: Francisco Goya (1746-1828) drawn 1812-1814 

                                                             photo courtesy: Corbis

Mr. Jonathan Jones writes of the picture: "The great British general is pensive, even anxious, in Goya’s subtle portrait. Wellington made his name fighting in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. While there, he was caught uneasily on canvas by Goya’s insightful eye"

In plain English,  Mr. Wellington looks scared!

Only a master of Goya's caliber could have captured it. I had never seen a portrait of this nature that says so much because majority of such paintings are hagiographic. 

If  tripartite treaty between the British, the Maratha's and the Nizam for joining forces against Tipu Sultan had not taken place, we need not IMAGINE how the Duke would have looked, if he was fighting against the combined forces of the British enemies in India.

Goya has shown it to us above!

I wish Goya were present in Shaniwar Wada on August 6 1790*! His depiction of the ceremony showing the Peshwa, Nana and Charles Malet would have perhaps told us a different story.

* The  date may be different than this one. D G Godse's (द ग गोडसे) Marathi book 'Samande Talash' (समन्दे तलाश), 1981 claims it to be June 6 1790

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