I WAS given these volumes of Oliver Goldsmith’s History of the Earth and Animated Nature by my dad’s shooting and fishing friend Mr Chalkley when I was seven years old. I was already hooked on nature, enthusiastically drawing local wildlife and writing up my observations in a red exercise book. Here I am doing the same kind of thing over half a century later.
I was thrilled to be presented with such an impressive set of volumes; they have such an air of antiquity about them. It has 108 plates, signed ‘R.Scott’ and ‘Published by Blackie Fullerton & Co. Glasgow’ of animals, birds, shells and fossils, printed in a fine stippled technique – lithography? Unfortunately the text (and the footnotes which can go on for several pages) are in such small print that you can’t read the book for pleasure. It’s one to be dipped into.
The first edition of Goldsmith’s History of the Earth appeared in 1774 but the title page of this edition, published by A. Fullarton and Co, is dated MDCCCXXXII. That’s a year that crops up again and again in research for my various projects: 1832. At the weekend this was the date that Waldemar Januszczak chose to start his television history of Impressionism as this was when Camille Pisarro was born in St Thomas in the West Indies (some sources day 1830). Manet was born in the same year.
I drew the books in pen and black Winsor and Newton ink but had to stop adding dilute peat brown ink as a colour wash as it was soaking through the paper in my sketchbook and staining the drawing on the other side of page.
I started drawing this chair when I took my mum for an appointment this morning.
Tilly is the new border collie at the bookshop where my wife Barbara works. Sadly Sox, who I drew on numerous occasions died aged 16 a month ago. It was only yesterday that Richard and Carol collected Tilly from the rescue centre but already it’s obvious how well she will fit in on her regular visits to the shop. She’s smaller than Sox and, as she’s a newcomer, there’s a tendency to think of her as a puppy but at 18 months this is as far as she’ll grow. She’s slim (there’s a contrast with Sox) and long-legged. Tilly’s ‘socks’, on her two front feet, are white with brown dots.
Fatsia (right), drawn in the courtyard of the Beverley Hotel during a break between papers at the Robin Hood conference.