So, I’m having a small exhibition at the local café. All the paintings I put up are apparently too big for the space – health & safety with a little bit of politics thrown in, you get the picture? Anyway this means I have to come up with some smaller works. So I paint this local character, Des. He likes a joke, does Des, but he’s more than that.
With this in mind I thrash at an old, knackered canvas board between 9 and 1, finding this in the morning, looking all colourful and that.
Here’s a detail. The painting went like this: Read a bedtime story. Black paint, acrylics, then frenzied work with coloured pencils. Some cropping to fit in the frame. Go to sleep.
Here’s Des the next day with his portrait.
Here’s the inspiration for the title:
In the year 1806, a well-dressed man in his twenties visited a doctor who was renowned throughout London for being able to treat what nowadays we’d call depression, but back then was called melancholia.
The patient explained that he felt overcome by a terrible sadness, that he didn’t want to get up in the morning. He could not see any point in his existence.
“With your condition I would normally prescribe a course of my patent powders,” said the doctor, “but it so happens that I have recently come across something which will alleviate your condition much more quickly.
“You must,” he continued, “go to the Covent Garden theatre to see the pantomime, Harlequin and Mother Goose. This is the happiest thing I have ever seen performed on a stage, tears of laugher ran down my face. Why, sir, I can almost guarantee that watching Grimaldi the clown will cure you completely!”
“Ah, but doctor,” said the man sadly, “I am Grimaldi the clown.”