Miles Kington Remembered: Remember, Edgar – paint them wide, not long

3 November 1994

Share
Related Topics


It is normally said that the Impressionist School of painting developed as a protest against the academic conventions of the day in France, and as a new means of self-expression. But a recently discovered conversation between Monet and Degas suggests things may not have been so simple.

Monet: Morning, Edgar.

Degas: Morning, Claude. What have you got there?

Monet: It's a lily.

Degas: Present for someone?

Monet: No, just taking it to the studio to paint. Doing a picture called Lilies in the Garden.

Degas: So why don't you paint it in the garden?

Monet: Too freezing cold, mon vieux.

Degas: Hmm. Good job you aren't English, that's all I can say.

Monet: Well, I agree, but what makes you say that?

Degas: If you go down the street in England carrying a lily, they put you in prison.

Monet: Is that a satirical reference to poor old Oscar Wilde?

Degas: That was the intention.

Monet: Oh, very topical. Not very funny, but very topical.

Degas: Thanks a million. Incidentally, what's that under your other arm?

Monet: That? Oh, that's an Impressionist painting.

Degas: And what might that be when it's at home?

Monet: It's something I've invented recently. Want to see?

Degas: Try me.

Monet: There! What do you think?

Degas: Blimey! It's sort of... blurry, isn't it?

Monet: Yes. That's the idea.

Degas: What's it meant to be, if you don't mind me asking?

Monet: High tide at Honfleur.

Degas: You could have fooled me.

Monet: Maybe it's low tide at Honfleur. I'm not much of a sailor.

Degas: But it is Honfleur?

Monet: Oh, yes! Or maybe it's Deauville.

Degas: Hmm... What's it for?

Monet: Well, you just write on the back ''Thanks for a lovely dinner – we must have you round to us as soon as is humanly possible, and as soon as Julian's crazy workload eases off a bit!'' and then you send it off to the people you had dinner with.

Degas: I beg your pardon?

Monet: You write on the back "Thanks for a lovely dinner – we must have you round to us..."

Degas: Yes, I heard that. It's just that... well, it's a bit big to send round to someone's house after a dinner party as a thank you note, isn't it? And somewhat expensive to send a whole painting?

Monet: Sure. This is the clever thing. You don't send the painting. You send a photograph of the painting!

Degas: Hold on, hold on, let me get this straight. You take a photo of the painting and write on the back "Thanks for the lovely dinner..." and send it round?

Monet: That's it.

Degas: I don't believe it.

Monet: We've done the research. There's a vast market for tiny photographic reproductions of big paintings which people can use to send each other thanks for dinner parties.

Degas: You're joking!

Monet: I kid you not.

Degas: If you say so, Claude.

Monet: Here's another thing. A lot of these Impressionist paintings actually look better when reduced to the size of a postcard. That's why they are so blurry. Look, go over there and have a look from 20 metres away at my high tide at Honfleur...

Degas (shouting): You're right! All those blurry blots of paint actually look like little boats from here! Not much, but a bit...

Monet: Well, they'll look better on postcards, too.

Degas (returning): So people will be able to buy photos of the painting without owning the painting?

Monet: Without even seeing it. I don't suppose more than one in a million will ever come face to face with the original painting. They will just send each other postcards of a painting they have never seen. And the reproduction rights will make us a fortune!

Degas: Hmm... I think you're on to something, Claude. Mind if I jump on the bandwagon?

Monet: Plenty of room on board, old chap. Just one hint, though. Make the paintings wider than they're long – landscape, not portrait. Market research shows that people don't like buying upright postcards so much.

Degas: Right-ho. Thanks for the tip... You'd better hurry. That lily's wilting.

Monet: You're right. A bientot.

Degas: Hasta la vista.

Authentic copies of this early Impressionist conversation are available from me. Just send me your name, address and a blank cheque.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice