Monday, 22 August 2016
A misunderstanding about a gift...
So Gail, you went swanning off to the Edinburgh Festival for a couple of nights with your 'book group', leaving me behind with someone who is confused about what breed I am, and forgetting to give her my bedding. No doubt you are thoroughly ashamed of yourself and have bought me a whole sackful of treats in compensation?
Er, well, not exactly Bertie, but I did bring you this.
This? A postcard purchased from the National Gallery of Scotland shop, depicting a painting of a Glen of Imaal terrier called Callum? Gail, I must say, even judged against your own abysmal present giving record, you have reached a new low this time. What on earth am I supposed to do with a postcard?
Well Bertie, the painting has a story behind it and I thought you might be interested. You see in 1895 Callum's owner James Cowan Smith commissioned this portrait from well known animal artist John Emms. Upon his - that is James Cowan Smith's - death in 1919, he bequeathed the large sum of £55,000 to the National Gallery of Scotland, on condition that the painting of Callum was put on permanent display. And you can still see it there today, in among all the Monets, Titians, Poussins, Rubens etc.
Oh, I see, I get it Gail. You are telling me that this is not just about the postcard. You are going to have some famous artist paint me, and then when you die you too will leave a large sum of money to our National Gallery and I will be on permanent display and remembered for ever and ever. Well Gail I must say I am most touched. That is a lovely present indeed, even if it does involve a rather strong element of deferred gratification…
Um, Bertie, to be strictly truthful, that wasn't actually quite what I meant… Perhaps we should change the subject and I'll tell you about the shows we saw at the Festival. Oh and I know, you would like to see a picture of Edinburgh in the rain wouldn't you?
Frankly Gail, I am so totally not interested.