Saturday, 23 January 2016

Dover Castle painting fakes and fantasy, some pictures of Ramsgate today and more lies.

Back in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, the mid 1500s if you are a bit vague about dates, a clergymen by the name of Darrell who was chaplain to the queen wrote a history of Dover Castle.

Just at the moment here in my bookshop we are preparing a cheap reprint of my copy of the 1786 edition, I hope to have it in print for around £6, I think it will be a useful addition to my range of local books. Partly because it is one of the earliest history books relating to this area and partly because having the original Latin accompanied by an English translation will be useful for those hoping to improve ther grasp of Latin.

To finish this task in need a cover picture of Dover Castle for the book, sounds simple. Doesn’t it? Well there are complications, firstly it has to look like Dover Castle for people buying the book and secondly it needs to look like Dover Castle did in 1550 and not how it looks now or as some later intermediate time.

There is for instance a very nice painting by Turner but unfortunately it doesn’t look much like Dover Castle, or does it? Anyway I can't use it as it has a seam boat in the middle, not invented in the mid 1500s.

In fact there are lots, I particularly like this Turner watercolour 

Anyway at the moment I think the only solution is to paint the thing myself, here is my first crack at it, mostly done using Turner’s sketchbooks which date mostly from the early 1800s and not from the mid 1500s.

I don’t think that I am very good liar and trying to be a liar with paint is very tricky, added to this is the business of trying to depict the castle by the sea in my mind an presumably other people’s.

At the same time I would like you all to know that I have a lot of decorations for valour and academic qualifications, and am not the rather stupid coward that presumably most of you thought I was, I am also a lot taller than I look.

Where was I? Oh sorry I got a bit carried away there. The truth is another matter with painting, you can of course take a photo, trace it, paint over it, use a light box, all sorts of tricks to get it right. Of course this isn’t lying, in fact the result is likely to be much nearer to the truth than the paintings I do directly from life.

Anyway today I breakfasted (toast and marmalade) on the end or Ramsgate’s East Pier at The Royal Harbour Brasserie and added a bit more to my sketch of Ramsgate from there.  
 Here are some photos I took today, which of course tell the truth.


  1. Michael have you not heard of 'artistic license' paint a picture and stick Dover 1545 in the corner. Not the year 1545 but when you drove past last Thursday afternoon. Job done. And yes you do look much taller than you actually. This optical illusion is much more preferable to looking heavier than one actually is I have notice fat people often look to weigh 25 stone when in fact the probably 22

    1. Ah Don you strike me as a chap who would understand a lie about ones height. The trouble is that this is a cover picture for a history book, so I have to err on side of caution.


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