Haydon's Dream

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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Haydon's Dream

Postby Malia » Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:11 am

Here's an interesting little story about Keats related by M. Buxton Forman.

Benjamin Robert Haydon (1776-1846) was the English painter who induced his countrymen to buy the Elgin Marbles. His enthusiams and vitality made a considerable impression on the mind of the young Keats. Well-known in his day as a painter of historical and Scriptural subjects--on canvases, frequently, of vast proportions--he eventually lost popular favor and was driven to suicide. His was a tragedy of misdirected energy. Few reading hsi Journal or his Autobiography would fail to agree that his real talent lay less in painting than in literature.

Haydon wrote in his journal:

"I dreamt last night of dear Keats--and thought he appeared to me and said Haydon--you promised to make a drawing of my head before I died and you did not do it. Paint me now--I awoke and saw him as distinctly as if it was his spirit. I am convinced such an impression on common minds would have been mistaken for a Ghost. I lay awake for hours dwelling on his rememberance--dear Keats! I will paint the worthily--poetically--

"Ah Wilson and Lockhart, if ever Man was murdered--it was John Keats--and if ever Men were murderers--ye are they--

"Wilson, when I was in Edinburgh, could not bear his high poetical Genius--his envy, his malice, were apparent--He spoke of him with undisguised malignity--"

So wrote Benjamin Robert Haydon in his Journal on 14th November, 1831, of Keats and of his reviewers. Directly below the entry he made the rough pen and ink sketch here reproduced. As a portrait of the poet, it does not bear comparison with the fine head drawn from life some fifteen years before, but I think it must be allowed that it gives to the poet the same eager expression that characterizes his earlier sketch which is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

--M Buxton Forman.



Here's a picture of the Sketch that Haydon drew that night:

Image
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Postby Credo Buffa » Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:53 am

That's really cool, Malia! Again, thanks for sharing. It's wonderful to have these earlier bits of info that we're not getting in our more contemporary biographies. :D

Apparently Haydon never got around to that painting, though :?
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Postby Saturn » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:05 pm

A tragic waste of a life - a shame his work was never appreciated :(
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Postby dks » Sat Apr 29, 2006 3:01 pm

I have been trying to find a large frameable print of Haydon's "Christ's Entry in Jerusalem"--a spectacular work--I had it on my desktop for a while...Keats looks so characteristically intense in that depiction--while Wordsworth has that look of serene "resignation" about him...Keats also strongly resembles Edmund Kean in the painting... :shock:
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Re: Haydon's Dream

Postby Raphael » Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:57 am

[quote="Malia"]
Haydon wrote in his journal:

"I dreamt last night of dear Keats--and thought he appeared to me and said Haydon--you promised to make a drawing of my head before I died and you did not do it. Paint me now--I awoke and saw him as distinctly as if it was his spirit. I am convinced such an impression on common minds would have been mistaken for a Ghost. I lay awake for hours dwelling on his rememberance--dear Keats! I will paint the worthily--poetically--[quote]

Wow, thanks Malia- I have only just seen this.Very poignant that he was still so beloved after he had gone. Interestingly, Brown reported a similar thing when he was trying to write the memoirs of his time with John. He said he felt as though John was around him watching him whilst he was trying to write the memoirs and he felt it so keenly it seems he was unable to concentrate.

I like the drawing- never seen it before.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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