Yesterday I went to the home of my art tutor for lunch.
Although we have a common interest in art conversation with her and her husband, a jazz drummer who has played with many of the greats, is wide ranging.
She likes to talk of high-end dining, travel and her family and always comes up with some interesting gems.
I was expressing my admiration of Singer Sergeant when she mentioned that for some inexplicable reason he visited Valparaiso in Chile where some of his works are to be found.
I said how much I admired Gassed – a pitiable line of First World War soldiers going nowhere – but I never knew it was “inspired” (the art world word for copied) by Brueghel the Elder.
The art world has its own vernacular; it’s never a young mistress but a “muse” for example.
I expressed my fascination for Japanism after a programme on Sky Arts this week about its influence upon Van Gogh.
The Dutch master is perhaps better known for his portraiture and sunflowers but one of my favourites is of the cherry blossom in the trees.
The incredible quality about this painting is its serenity painted at a time when the artist himself was unable to confront his demons.
Various Dutch curators contributed to the programme in fluent English.
My only critique is that the programme attributed the preservation of Van Gogh to his homeopathic doctor Gachet when the real heroine was Van Gogh’s sister-in-law, a relatively young widow called Johanna, who was bequeathed Van Gogh’s works and writings.
As Van Gogh’s reputation was not yet established she could have destroyed the lot but retained them and they in turn were passed to her son who left them to the Dutch state.
No great painter has more of his works in public hands.