Difficulties, setbacks, misfortune…these things sent to try us. What else can be done other than to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm til everything is yare again? The human spirit has a fail safe for turmoil: retreat to a place of safety to convalesce and eventually re-evaluate. For one young man, the muse of painting was his salve, and throughout his long life he would employ brush, oils, and canvas to nourish his soul and keep the ‘black dog’ on a leash.
Born at Blenheim, and cousin by marriage to our dear friend Consuelo, this young man had ambition beyond measure.
Straight out of school, he attacked life with vigor, eager to take his place among his noble and heroic ancestors.
Our young man traveled the world to find battlefields upon which he could test his mettle and as he collected commendations, he wrote books about his adventures and campaigns, and prepared himself for a life in politics.
He dodged the blades of Dervishes as he rode in the cavalry charge at Omdurman. He faced down the barrel of a Boer’s gun as he was taken prisoner in Africa. He spent his birthday getting shot at in Cuba. Eventually he made his way in to politics and in a very short amount of time he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.
His meteoric rise was to suffer a terrible setback when his plans for a major campaign in Turkey had disastrous results calling in to question his suitability for the post. He was forced to resign from the position he had worked so hard to achieve, and he retreated with his family to a country home in Surrey where he brooded over his misery. His family and friends were very worried about him, and he himself believed that his career was over. But one day he noticed his sister in law Goonie painting in the yard and he was inspired to try it himself. So enamoured was he that he outfitted himself with all the trappings of an artist and immersed himself in his new hobby.
His friends and family did all they could to encourage this diversion from his troubles and they were very pleased to see his spirit renew. His neighbor, Sir John Lavery was an accomplished painter and mentored our young man with delightful results.
“The Muse of Painting came to my rescue- out of charity and out of chivalry, because after all she had nothing to do with me-and said ‘ Are these toys any good to you? They amuse some people.’ “
Soon our young man was able to gather his wits and start over, returning to the scene of his previous successes: the field of battle . Off he went to the frontlines where he took over command of a battalion in Belgium-and painted.
He built his career back up from there, and for the rest of his life, our young man would paint to reflect, to relax, and to keep the worries if not away, then at least abated.
“Armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose end, one cannot ‘have several days on one’s hands'”