ID Picture :: Inky Smiles
The vigilant and even, yes I can say it, satisfactory Mr S has unearthed a sketch from the back of MoD’s Picture Gallery. I had completely forgotten it was there! It’s a portrait sketch that the delicious Mr Odilon Redon whipped up sometime in 1881, as he and Inky wiled away the drowsy later summer afternoons at Cambridge with only mayhem to plan.
It’s an amazing likeness, although Inky was obviously much younger then. And perhaps a little prettier. But, taking into account the wear of the passing years, I think it will aid in identification should you run into our tearaway.
It was of this sketch that their chum Baudelaire wrote:
“It's Boredom! — his eye brimming with spontaneous tearYou can tell they both really knew Inky. I think Monsieur B was particularly close to him.
He dreams of the gallows in the haze of his hookah.
You know him, reader, this delicate monster,
Hypocritical reader, my likeness, my brother!”
Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire
Come to think of it, I wonder what happened to that hookah…?
Redon, Baudelaire and Inky were all at Cambridge together – they formed an infamous albeit somewhat geeky clique known as The Ink Sots. 1881 was a very bad year for explosions, police raids and psychotropic-laced syllabub. But that was just a coincidence, I’m sure.
Inky, of course, was employed at Cambridge University from 1880 right through to the new century, whilst his conspirators moved on. I hope Inky doesn’t mind me telling what is rather a sad story, but he was summarily dismissed despite a long and rather distinguished career. And on the thinnest of pretexts – a mere matter of an unfortunate experiment into the properties of phosphorus.
Academics have NO sense of humour!