Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tour de Hound - Chapter #13 - must have been wealthy and Holmes does some name dropping - and I'd love to know where they ate.

Clearing a few things up for Watson and setting the stage for the final curtain call.
Between the portraits and Mrs, Laura Lyon's, Holmes finally gets the last clues he needs to set the stage for catching Stapleton. (And why does everyone have so much sympathy for Mrs. Lyon's that they want to help her so much?)

It is kind of amazing how each time you read or re-read the Canon how you come up with other things you want to find out more about.

It never fails.

But a few other things first.

I loved the part where we imagine Holmes having to make do with clothes from Sir Henry and Watson to dine in proper attire that first evening, for him, at Bakerville Hall.
We picture Holmes as tall and lean, very angular. And most images drawn in the period would suggest he is near six-feet tall.
Most of us probably picture Watson a little shorter and more solidly built.
And Watson describes Sir Henry as, "The latter was a small, alert, dark-eyed man about thirty years of age, very sturdily built, with thick black eyebrows and a strong, pugnacious face."
But one must make do when the need arises. So what if the jacket is a little short at the sleeves or too much of your socks are showing.
After all, it is only the staff present and the hall is usually kind of dark anyway.

(Just add Holmes to this picture.)

And another point; How serious are we suppose to take the admonishment of Sir Henry and Watson by Holmes about how they handled the Seldon incident. Other than the sister, we probably all agree that no one is going to miss poor Seldon, but is Holmes serious about his condemnation of the two?

And we must also be aware of how quick a study Sir Henry is, for when Holmes started going on about the mishandling of the Seldon incident, Sir Henry borrowed from Barrymore's playbook and changed the subject real quick, "But how about the case?" asked the baronet.

And it is in the dining room that I am going to stay today.

Although related to a famous french artist, Watson "won't allow that (Holmes) knows anything of art." Although there are times when we see Holmes going out of his way to  appreciate works of art.

In the list of abilities Watson assigns to Holmes in STUD art is not mentioned.

  1. Knowledge of Literature – nil.
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy – nil.
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy – nil.
  4. Knowledge of Politics – Feeble.
  5. Knowledge of Botany – Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
  6. Knowledge of Geology – Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks, has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry – Profound.
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy – Accurate, but unsystematic.
  9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature – Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
  10. Plays the violin well.
  11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer and swordsman.
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.
We can assume, perhaps that it just hadn't come up for consideration at this point, or Watson just didn't think it important to the narrative.

But in HOUN we see that Holmes has what appears to be a pretty good knowledge of art, or at least portraiture.
While dining in Baskerville Hall, Holmes questions Sir Henry about the Baskerville portraits hung around the room, commenting on two painters in the process, "That's a Kneller, I'll swear, that lady in the blue silk over yonder, and the stout gentleman with the wig ought to be a Reynolds."

What is interesting to note is that both of these mentioned artists, as I am sure authentic Sherlockain scholars have noted,  are real portrait artists, very famous in Britain.

Godfrey Kneller, eventually Sir Godfrey, was a German born artist that lived from 1646 - 1723.

(Which means he probably did not paint the picture of Hugo.)

He moved to England in 1676 and soon became the court painter for monarchs from Charles II to George I.
He also painted ten reigning European monarchs.

He is also known for doing a series of painting called 'Kit-Cat' paintings. A series of paintings a certain size for members of the London Kit-Cat Club, a club of political and literary members wishng to further the cause of the Whig party at that time. The name of the club comes from the mutton pies made by and named after the owner of the tavern where they first met.
And on another Sherlockian note; The Kit-Cat later club moved to The Fountain Tavern on the Strand which would eventually become the site of Simpson's-on-the-Strand. (A Sherlockain must stop if you are in London.) 

The other painter mentioned, and seemingly not as nice, was Joshua Reynolds, also eventually Sir.
He was born in 1723 and died in 1792, which means he could not have painted the portrait of Hugo either.

His connection to Devon and the Hound is that he was born in Plympton, Devon, only about fifteen miles from Princeton.

He became one of the founders of the Royal Academy and first president, and used the threat of resigning from that position as a means to be appointed Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King.
A position he would come to hate and regret. 
 From Wiki, "Your Lordship congratulation on my succeeding Mr. Ramsay I take very kindly, but it is a most miserable office, it is reduced from two hundred to thirty-eight pounds per annum, the Kings Rat catcher I believe is a better place, and I am to be paid only a fourth part of what I have from other people, so that the Portraits of their Majesties are not likely to be better done now, than they used to be, I should be ruined if I was to paint them myself".

I think there are a couple of important things we can take from this knowledge. 
One is that Holmes was indeed very knowledgeable about art. And used that knowledge in his work, at least as far as portraits goes. (It is also interesting to note, that in 'Elementary' towards the end of the first season, they used this knowledge in the plot line.)

(The National Portrait Gallery in London is well worth a visit and the restaurant upstairs has a great view and a great High Tea.)

Secondly, it also, I think, attests to the connections and wealth the Baskervilles had attained.
Surely only people of certain status could afford painters with such busy schedules and probable high fees.

Thirdly, it seems that both artists were very 'clubable'  fellows which would put them right up Watson and Mycroft's alley.

And the fourth thing, which would make a great road trip, is where did Holmes, Watson and Lestrade eat before their big adventure? A tiny pub I hope, and is it still there?

Now it's time to go see what Snarky Tours has to say, although I won't be able to comment for I have been banned.

(source, wikipedia among others)


  1. After the incident of the cab, Holmes and Watson have some time to kill before lunching with Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer. They drop into on of the Bond Street picture galleries. Chapter 5: "For two hours the strange business in which we had been involved appeared to be forgotten, and he was entirely absorbed in the pictures of the modern Belgian masters. He would talk of nothing but art, of which he had the crudest ideas, from our leaving the gallery until we found ourselves at the Northumberland Hotel.' Obviously, Holmes and Watson have very different views on art. You're right to give Holmes some credit--he had art in the blood, after all.

    Good catch about Holmes' dinner attire. Perhaps he borrowed some clothes from the tall Barrymore?

    1. The Chapter 5 quote is the one I had in mind.
      Thanks for stopping by.