A favourite painting in the Louvre in Paris by Vermeer. Anthony Sargeant suggests to avoid the crowds around the Mona Lisa and seek out this miraculous gem.
The Lacemaker was completed around 1669–1670. The work shows a young woman dressed in a yellow shawl, holding up a pair of bobbins in her left hand as she carefully places a pin in the pillow on which she is making her bobbin lace. At 24.5 cm x 21 cm (9.6 in x 8.3 in), the work is the smallest of Vermeer’s paintings, but in many ways one of his most abstract and unusual.
It was just a month ago that the late flowering honeysuckle was scrambling through the hawthorn hedges of the Shropshire lanes. Photographed by Anthony Sargeant on one of his early morning bicycle rides in September, the hedgerows have now been cut back and the blossom and leaves have gone as the first frosts of winter bring all growth to a halt till next Spring.
Anthony Sargeant and his partner drove down through Europe in an Austin A35 van and ended up here in Sibenik on the Adriatic coast of what was then Yugoslavia ruled by Tito. This photograph was taken on a small wooded resort island just of the coast of Sibenik where small ferry boats took holiday makers to enjoy the sun and the sea. Šibenik is a city on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. It’s known as a gateway to the Kornati Islands. The 15th-century stone Cathedral of St. James is decorated with 71 sculpted faces. Nearby, the Šibenik City Museum, in the 14th-century Prince’s Palace, has exhibits ranging from prehistory to the present. The white stone St. Michael’s Fortress has an open-air theater, with views of Šibenik Bay and neighboring islands.
In 1940-50s South-London there were few washing machines. The mother of Anthony Sargeant did not have one but she did have a cast-iron mangle such as this which was housed in the shed at the bottom of the garden. The shed was in fact a re-purposed corrugated iron from a WW2 Anderson bomb shelter. All laundry was done in a large heated copper boiler in the kitchen using a thick wooden pole to stir it around (the thick pole rather like a metre long broom handle also had another use – it was sometimes used to whack Tony when his Mother deemed him to have misbehaved). Heavily soiled pieces of laundry were additionally rubbed on a washing board at the large ceramic sink in the kitchen. After rinsing out the soapy water in the sink the wet laundry was carried up the garden and put through the the wooden rollers of the mangle to squeeze out as much water as possible. The washing was then pegged out along the clothes line which ran the length of the garden. This was not advisable if the wind was coming from the direction of the local gasworks which was less than half a mile away, because at certain stages of the manufacture of Town Gas the coking ovens door would be opened and the wind would carry sooty smuts across the neighbourhood.
The white lump at the bottom left of the MRI scan is a tumour of a rare type – Langerhans Cell Histocytosis. In this case of the daughter of Anthony Sargeant the tumour is in the bone at the back of the skull but about to penetrate the dura surrounding the brain – it is already pressing on the brain as can be seen in this image. We are grateful to Dr Rao Gattamaneni and his colleagues and neurosurgeon Mr Leggatt for their prompt diagnosis and intervention.
Wonderful slightly Gauguin’ish etching by William Strang RA owned by Anthony J Sargeant (it is a First State Etching).
Strang was born in 1859 at Dumbarton, the son of Peter Strang, builder, and educated at the Dumbarton Academy. He worked for fifteen months in the counting-house of a firm of shipbuilders (William Denny and Sons) before going to London in 1875 when he was sixteen. There he studied art under Alphonse Legros at the Slade School for six years. Strang became assistant master in the etching class, and had great success as an etcher. He was one of the original members of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, and his work was a part of their first exhibition in 1881. Some of his early plates were published in The Portfolio and other art magazines. Strang was elected to the Royal Academy in 1921 and died suddenly shortly thereafter.
During his lifetime, Dumbarton-born William Strang (1859 – 1921) built up an international reputation as a highly skilled and imaginative printmaker, portraitist and painter. His diverse subjects ranged from the fantastic to the very real, including uncompromising depictions of contemporary life and the effects of poverty and social injustice, landscapes, subjects from the bible, bewildering allegories, and narrative illustrations. He was also a prolific and highly successful portraitist.