Thursday, April 27, 2006

Was his stilted eloquence the same before his hair turned grey?

Last week I watched the last programme of ‘Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour’ on Channel 5 and afterwards searched the web for his website – he has three. The tasteless content on two of them was a surprise and I wondered if it was included with his approval or if he was just being sent up. One Shockwave Flash clip shows a young dark-haired Sewell giving a commentary from the ornamental garden of a country house. Was it him or was it a look-alike - the poor quality of the video made it impossible to be sure.

Another page shows the central panel from the Sistine ceiling with him superimposed on the figure of God. The digital make over is a mirror image of the original so the ‘omnipotent Sewell’ becomes left handed in the web version. The left hand is infusing life into a Brian Sewell t-shirt design that serendipitously makes use of the BSI kite logo.

This association of one of the great images of Renaissance art with such tasteless treatment seems out of character. He is after all a writer who has been fiercely critical of similar tackiness produced in the name of art.

The broadcast ended with the old sage sitting in the Danielli enjoying a cup of hot chocolate - this was something he’d first done in his impecunious student years. He was visibly moved by the memory and by the thought that he may not enjoy many more visits to Venice. I’ll stay away from the dreadful web sites that display his name and carry a memory of him enjoying his hot chocolate in the civilised surroundings of the Danieli – that’s where he belongs.

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