I received an email from a gentleman this morning that said the following: “I am not currently in the market for a guru but thank you for the kind offer.” All I had done was to offer a little advice; the kind of thing you do when your partner’s driving and has strayed across the white lines in the middle of the road. A gentle nudge is all that is needed to get them to concentrate on driving.
Oh, and finding the next roadside café for a relaxing break with a cup of coffee.
You see, the only negotiating handle the shipping companies had was price. After all, if you’re shipping a container, the ultimate commodity – you can put anything in them just as long as it’s safe and within the weight limits – all you can say about the thing is that it needs handling. There is literally nothing special about it.
In this situation, the shipping company was treating the shipping itself as a commodity, just like the containers they were moving.
Gainsborough’s Portrait of Philip Dupont, circa 1770.
Gainsborough painted his brother in law, Philip Dupont when he was already famous. I can’t say that he was at the height of his powers as an artist, because artists like Gainsborough aren’t the kind who develop. They just are. Their work, like their life, has a consistentcy and liveliness that others lack.
But of course they develop! That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? As a young man, Gainsborough had travelled to the low countries with the aim of studying the Dutch masters. For an artist as gifted as Gainsborough, the subtleties expressed by the masters will have been immediate. From the landscapes, to the remaining ‘dead paintings’ of Rembrandt – a term used for the underlying sketch painted in a monochrome with the grey muck from the box where the artist cleaned his brushes – to Frans Hals. I have already written about how sloppy some of Hals’ work is, and how it means nothing when you understand what Frans Hals wanted to convey.