Thursday, 19 August 2010

A stupefying work of painstaking bad taste and technical skill

In his second volume of autobiography, A Dubious Codicil, Michael Wharton describes the Shaftesbury Avenue studio of cartoonist Michael ffolkes, as “a strange room of narrow triangular shape crammed with an astounding assortment of treasures” and draws particular attention to:

...A huge photograph of a painting by the nineteenth-century French Salon painter Bouguereau was pasted on one wall, showing a crowd of naked nymphs, all identical, perfectly shaped, white-skinned, and of ideal nubility. This stupefying work of painstaking bad taste and technical skill amused Michael greatly; but it would be hypocritical to say that he – or any other man – did not enjoy looking at it.

Wharton does not specify which of Bouguereau’s ‘stupefying’ works adorned ffolkes’s wall, but it seems a reasonable guess that it was Les Oreades, which fits the description perfectly.


  1. Having read and very much enjoyed his first memoir, I look forward to reading the second volume some time. Might make a good subject for a 1p book review?

  2. Sylvester Stallone is a big collector of Bouguereau.