People Trying to Write in Art

by Lili Loofbourow

(After an unintended hiatus, the Stuff in Art series is back.)

1--Eadmer of Canterbury Writing ca 1140

“Something’s not right.”

Gospel Book 1504-1505

“Maybe if I hold it like this?”

Gospel Book ca 1120-1140

“In the beginning was the Word, and I planned to continue it on the backside of this piece of paper but there doesn’t appear to be one.”

Evangelist Matthew Seated Dipping Pen in Inkwell--T'oros Roslin 1262

Matthew: “Hold up — is that a fish?”

Portrait of the Evangelist Mark mid 11th century--German

Mark: “But COULD you sew a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment?”

A Girl Writing--The Pet Goldfinch--Henriette Brown--ca 1870

“Go away, sweetie.”

David Garrick with his wife Eva-Maria Veigel--William Hogarth

“Not right now, Sally.”

Lady writing a Love Letter ca 1700-1800 --Himachal Pradesh

“OK, OK — I’ll tell him you said hi.”

Solomon Writing--1637-38--Malnazar

Solomon: “Dear diary, Abishag blabbed. I called her a jewel of gold in my memoirs. A jewel of gold IN A SWINE’S SNOUT, more like. Yeah.”

1Wenshu, Bodhisattva of Wisdom at a Writing Table--Yuan dynasty 1354

Wen Shu, Bodhisattva: “Our cherished beliefs are only — dammit, Algernon, where’d you put the parchment?”

1St John the Theologian writing his revelations on an Open Scroll--Andreas Ritzos

John: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away. The hired hand’s girlfriend, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep but has a nodding acquaintance with the wolf, offers to broker a deal between the wolf and the shepherd, cutting her loser boyfriend out. She is incidentally very pretty. She effects a merger: effective immediately, the wolf will guard the flock in sheep’s clothing in exchange for a 12% stock of the shepherd’s net profit. She’ll get a monthly transaction fee, not that she’ll need it, because I — the shepherd, that is — will support her. The hired hand’s a patsy now though he doesn’t know it. The girlfriend, a skilled accountant, convinces him with some deceptive math that the new arrangement will benefit him. The hired hand dreams of his bakery, far from sheep. The shepherd smiles. You like working for me, Ebenezer? I’ll be the David to your Uriah, the Littlefinger to your Stark.”

St Luke--Simone Martini--ca 1330

Luke: “Really, John?”

Phillis Wheatley--1773

Phillis Wheatley: “What rhymes with ‘you are all terrible’?”

The Letter--Gerard ter Borch--ca 1660-1665


Titus at his Desk--Rembrandt--1655

Titus: “Oh my god… writing is so. hard.”

16-Young Man with a Fountain Pen--Diego Rivera--1914

“You said it, broseph.”

Eadmer of Canterbury Writing ca 1140 CLOSEUP.P

Jerome: “NOT FOR MEEEE.”

Previously: An Interview With Comedian Heather Gold

Lili Loofbourow is a writer splitting her time between Oakland and Austin. She tweets as @millicentsomer.