Sometimes clichés are true – or at least there is a modicum of fact in the mix. Take the notion of the 'troubled genius'. On occasions, this concept has given license to all sorts of bad behavior – one thinks of Marlowe, Byron, Caravaggio, Gauguin, Hemingway, Iggy Pop... But then there are gifted artists who cause trouble only for themselves – the quiet ones who choose to live their lives in a certain way in order to create masterpieces. L.S. Lowry fits into this category. On page 30, Tom Rosenthal writes about how we may see Lowry as an untrained, confined, eccentric artist. It's true, he did live with his mother and his day job was spent collecting rent. But for Lowry, it was a perfectly acceptable way of living.
The Scottish Colourist, J.D. Fergusson, also had his idiosyncratic ways. According to Chris Brickley, who writes about the painter on page 22, Fergusson had a compulsion to take baths. Even when traveling in the Highlands, he was never without his portable rubber tub. But although this habit was much remarked upon, it doesn't qualify as 'troubled'... it merely puts him in the foothills of OCD in my book. Kitaoji Rosanjin, on the other hand, did cause trouble – to himself and to others. Joe Earle describes how the artist-cum-polymath was abandoned as a child – a tricky start. However, he managed to overcome this handicap by becoming an award-winning calligrapher, a ceramicist of international renown and an exquisitely subtle artist – his lacquered panels, a detail of which is featured on this issue's cover – is being sold in November in Bonhams Fine Japanese Sale. But he wasn't an easy person to rub along with as his six wives would testify. See page 26 to find out more.
We are also featuring an article on a glorious painting by Camille Pissarro – written by the artist's great-grandson, Joachim; some of the rarest American coins and one of the most exciting finds in the world of paleontology.
Do enjoy the issue.