New Photograph: Portrait of J. Rudyard Kipling, 1865 - 1936

Barbara Sparhawk

Carmel Valley, United States

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Artist's Description

Oil Portrait of Rudyard Kipling, Writer. I’ve loved his exploring heart, his gift for imagery and lyrical writing, his storytelling that pulled you in to dust and sweat, wild animals, and his being so moved by foreign ports, land, & people, since my childhood. Oh Rudyard Kipling!! The places you’ve taken me!!.
Born in Bombay- live-wire mother and sculptor father who met in Rudyard Lake and so named their firstborn. Aunts married famous painters; cousin Stanley Balldwin was 3 times PM pre-WW I. Nobel Prize – Literature 1907, still youngest ever & first English language winner; rejected a knighthood.
This kind of invitation to fantastic adventure in his tribute to Bombay, and it’s “strong light and darkness”: Mother of Cities to me, For I was born in her gate, Between the palms and the sea, Where the world-end steamers wait.
was surpassed by his more famous and endlessly exquisite:
‘On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin’- fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!"
At 16, unqualified to pursue academia, shipped to Pakistan to assist the editor of the local rag, Civil & Military Gazette, which he called his most true love. Thank God, they asked him to contribute short stories. Rudyard Kipling was later called the first modern science fiction writer. He left at 24 for Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, sending stories home from dozens of states, crossed Canada, met Mark Twain in NY. 8 months later, Kipling moved to Liverpool, got famous in London. In 1891, at 25, he headed for South Africa, Australia, New Zealand; married Carrie Balestier, moved to Vermont. 5 years later moved to Torquay on Devon’s coast. The family regularly trekked to South Africa. Dozens of places in Canada, the UK, and USA are named for him.
His beautiful poem," If-" written in 1895 remains superb advice for growing up:
“If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…. Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…” The only spoken words at Ayn Rand’s funeral; runs like a river for over a 100 years through songs, plays, movies (The Man Who Would Be King), and rock’n’roll. Like other Kipling stories, immortalized, complained about, his fanciful combination of delight and terror keeps his memory sharp. Rudyard Kipling was a vociferous taker-in of all the world he could set his eyes on, and then who wrote about beautifully for the rest of us, so we might see it too.
ABOUT THE PAINTING: Again reaching into the time and presence of the subject, and one that startled me! I couldn’t get him to hold still! His hands moved, his head turned, he sat, stood, he was all motion. It was amazing. Then he settled down a bit. I turned his profile from the reference photograph I used to a 3/4 face, and because he was a writer wanted to include his hand (if I could get it to hold still). I am not a biographer-portraitist to trust, I invent as I go along. But all he means to me is in this: The sun of India is burning behind him, and the roads, waterways and purple skies drift from his blue eyes and crowded brain. He’s thinking of a story in my painting. I copied the style of the Medieval and Renaissance painters who place a raised finger on their saints, pointing to heaven, which is where, as far as I can tell, Kipling surely spent most of his life.

Artwork Comments

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