The original painting by Rembrandt which is now titled Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul was originally 160 cm wide, but unfortunately the only frame that the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam had at the time, was 93 cm wide so the curators trimmed off the right-hand side which had a portrait of Rembrandt’s favourite llama which he had named Umber.
Another little known fact is that Rembrandt made his own brushes using llama hair from Umber.
This watercolour version of Coming Down from Mont Blanc was painted by John Singer Sargent around 1909 and shows a couple of friends bringing Sargent’s pack llamas down the mountain.
Sargent was one of the first to use pack llamas to carry his easel and supplies.
If you ever get a chance to see the Oyster Gatherers of Cancale by John Singer Sargent in The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, look very carefully at the left-hand side and you may be able to see where some llama-hating restorer has carefully painted out the llama.
Claude Monet’s painting of Jeanne-Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden, done in 1866, shows one of Claude’s favourite llamas.
Very few people know that he kept a few llamas to keep the grass in his garden trimmed.
Salvador Dali painted many versions of Persistence of Memory around 1931 and our favourite one naturally is this one which shows Salvador Dali’s pet llama which he obviously called Dali Llama.
It is displayed in the Museum of Llama Art in Mount Lehman, British Columbia.
Thomas Eakins’ painting of The Courtship, done in 1878, obviously doesn’t have a llama in it.
However, as shown below, recent x-rays clearly proved that the current painting covered an earlier composition which included two llamas.
This would suggest that the girl is probably spinning llama wool.
There is an on-going controversy now between Eakins scholars and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco whether or not to scrape off the top layer and reveal the original llama painting.
Whistler’s famous portrait of his mother shows a painting on the wall. Few people realize that it is one of his mother’s favourite paintings. It was done by Whistler three years earlier when he took a trip to Nepal.
On the close-up you can see that the smaller painting has a figure with a pack llama hiking on a ridge with Mount Everest in the background.
On close inspection of this Vincent Van Gogh painting of a llama in a wheatfield, you will notice that Mr. Van Gogh has cut off one of the llama’s ears.
In this Monet painting a curious llama is checking out the magpie on the gate. As you can see in the detail below, the llama has snow on its face from leaning through the snow on the fence.
Llamas are very curious animals and Winslow Homer has caught this perfectly in Woodchopper in the Adirondacks where a llama from a local llama farm has come to investigate the noise of the falling tree.
If you are ever in Roanoke, Virginia, do visit the Art Museum of Western Virginia where you can see Homer’s first version of this painting.
Brian and Jane Pinkerton
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