The location of the sketches made by the artist in March1977 at the London mortuary where his mother’s body was taken was not known until this painting was re-framed for exhibition in 2009. They are affixed to the rear of the wood panel on which the oil painting was made three days after her death. The sketches, about four or five inches on a side, were made on yellowing paper from a sketchpad.
Cryla on board
Theme: ironic self-portrait as Christ, an homage to Albrecht Dürer’s self-portrait painted in 1500
Woman Walking Away shows Myriam (in her sister Magdalena’s dress) in the garden of ‘Death House’, Lenkiewicz’s cottage in Compton, watched by a male figure whose entrails flail after the retreating woman. The male figure is taken directly from Velàzquez’s The Forge of Vulcan; even the twisting entrails exactly follow a sinuous line in Velàzquez’s own composition. Vulcan is the Roman counterpart to the smithy god Hephaestus who in Greek mythology made the first woman, Pandora, out of clay.
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