Wednesday, August 30, 2006

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 tear
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
You can tell they both really knew Inky. I think Monsieur B was particularly close to him.

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!


Blogger Jim Stewart said...

Yay! Brownie points for me! Mr. Clown will be so jealous!

-- Mr. S.

2:33 am  
Blogger Jim Stewart said...

I found this lovely bit of "surreal auto-translation" at

1887: Odilon Redon wearies himself to expose in Bordeaux because the association of the Friends of Arts is ossified by amateurs who wearied all the painters of the period. The Spider is transposed in lithography and is printed with 25 specimens.

-- Mr. S.

10:37 am  
Anonymous Robyn said...


You're wise to contact me directly. I like to keep a more direct management style with the lowly RoT masses. It tends to make them feel secure.

This issue of the spider is quite interesting. Indeed, I may have already seen him! Of course I can't be sure of this.

Do you remember what Inky looks like? And when was the last time you saw him? Are you prepared for idea that Inky may have gone through a few small changes? These are important questions. I ask them because, as you may recall, I never told the third part of our harrowing adventure: "Hell in a Handbasket – Octobrain"! If I saw Inky at all... it was during the horrors of our escape.

However, I saw nothing that resembled a "sponge-cat". I don't even know what a sponge-cat is. But Inky did have a large arsenal, many arms (both physically and militarily speaking) and a very short temper. Super Gopher Boy tried to kill him; he was unsuccessful.

I must tell this third part of the story! Why have I waited?!

Your Illustrious Khan

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