Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Purchased on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the King of Coke’s First Million Dollars (1910)

Dawn Potter

“Unique as being one of the few equestrian portraits ever done by the artist,” remarked the king, jingling the nickels in his trouser pocket.

Browns and yellows mostly. Sooty sky, sun setting
behind a slagheap, or a hill, or is this the setting

of a story too grand to tell? And a splash of red:
rider’s stout leg, crown of his hat. Sure, I’ve read

the experts: they explain he’s a Catholic knight;
yes, yes, it’s a good moral piece, but look at the night-

time shadows and the boy rider’s steady wide eyes,
staring out of the frame. And not at me. God, I

loathe those fat-face portraits that glower and pry like
death’s photogravure. Enough is enough, tho’ I do like

this whitey-brown horse, spavined and panting—
Why, my life’s as true as a cracked old painting,

now and again             now and again.

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606–69), The Polish Rider, c. 1655. Oil on canvas. 46 x 53 in.

[from Chestnut Ridge, a verse-history of southwestern Pennsylvania]


The Frick Collection's website will tell you more about both Rembrandt's remarkable painting and the history of Henry Clay Frick's art acquisitions . . .

. . . whereas this poster will explain how he earned the money to buy it.

1 comment:

David (n of 49) said...

Teddy Roosevelt's robber barons (Carnegie's steel mills apparently claimed, on average, three workers a week) become the benefactors of the nation. Paradox sometimes too small a word.