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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Death of Chatterton By Henry Wallis


Within the walls of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a small copy of Death Of Chatterton By Henry Wallis ( The original is in The Tate Gallery), it is housed within a gilded ornate frame that almost devours it but also seems to add to its macabre beauty.
Many years ago I came across this oil painting and immediately fell in love with its drama, the colours and the uniqueness of the subject within it .
Upon investigation I found out that the subject of this dramatic depiction was 17 year old Thomas Chatterton , a poetic prodigy: to quote Dr Serena Trowbridge 'whose work was a unique forgery : he pretended that he had discovered the poems of a fifteenth-century monk, Thomas Rowley, and for a while manage to convince a number of eminent antiquarians, including Horace Walpole, who later exposed him as a fraud. He also wrote politically radical prose.' His cause of death remains uncertain with some believing he committed suicide , whilst others believed he took an accidental overdose whilst trying to cure himself of venereal disease
Last year whilst perusing the Art section on Ebay ( You'd be surprised at some of the wonderful things that pop up there at times) I happened upon a large print of this work - it arrived within the week and was framed shortly afterwards. I know its not an original in any way, shape or form but I also know I don't care ....I just love it! And I think that's all that matters to be honest , forget worth, forget status - does it make you happy? Does your heart leap when you look at it?

Many years ago whilst out drinking in Birmingham City Centre at a pub frequented by someone that worked at the museum we got talking and I mentioned my love for this painting, the man chuckled'' You know it was stolen a few years ago '' he said '' The mother in law of the thief shopped him cos he wouldn't  agree to share any profit with her'......
I don't know if that was true but doing a little research I came upon this within an article on The Free Libary - take note of the last two lines
Also there is this discussion...I am loving Austin27 !!!!
Whatever the truth, it makes me love the small copy hanging in Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery more- and very proud of my print !
Is there a favourite exhibit or work of Art you love visiting?



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