LETTER:Choice of weapons

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The Independent Online
From Mr John Keane

Sir: I do not know if Michael Mordaunt has been to see my exhibition at Flowers East (Letter, 30 December), which includes the painting Art and Revolution (Part 1) about the assassination of Trotsky. If he does go, I hope that he will not take issue with the colour of the tie that Trotsky was wearing that day.

If he is really concerned with details of authenticity, I will readily admit that the French doors were actually closed, where I have painted them open. However, as regards the question of the assault weapon, may I quote from The Assassination of Trotsky by Nicholas Mosley, published in 1972 by Michael Joseph:

After the actual assassination it was found that ... in a pocket was a piolet or ice-pick such as mountain climbers use - this had a sawn off handle a foot long and a 7-inch head with a forked hammer-claw at one end and a sharp point at the other.

I hope this will remove the threat of any endorsements on my artistic licence.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN KEANE

London, N5

From Dr Harry Shukman

Sir: The ice-axe shown in John Keane's painting of Trotsky's murder is correct. A photograph of the murderer, Ramon Mercader, re-enacting the assassination for the Mexican authorities, shows him holding just such an implement: an axe, not a pick. This photograph will appear, not for the first time, in a new biography of Trotsky by Dmitri Volkogonov to be published in the spring.

Yours faithfully,

Harry Shukman

St Antony's College

Oxford

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