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14 August 2014


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The beaver


May be it would be a good idea to transfer all the posts about the painting, its raison d'être and its splendid detailed description from the August 12th thread.

Just a thought and thank you .


A beautiful painting. I recognize Justinian, Hagia Sophia and... nothing else!

("Marguerite" and "Patrick" on the top right?)


Perhaps at bottom left is the VMI. At center is Ataturk. Bottom right is Nijinsky as Petrouchka with the Ville Savoie above him. There is the obvious Saint George. Above the VMI picture is someone pondering strategy on a chess board. Then there is a statue perhaps of Rurik and the Varangians floating down the Dnieper. There is castle suggesting Neuschwanstein above a Bavarian type of house. On the river there is a floating island. I can't discern the details but there seems to be a saint with a halo and three men next to a table. Is that Abraham and the angels? Is it the Emmaus scene? The tents behind suggest Alexander Nevsky.
What the dog is doing on a carpet baffles me. Then there are the two heads next to Ataturk that are a puzzle.The miniature at the left upper corner is Persian. Russlan and Ludmilla?



Interesting, but none of it is correct except that is the cadet barracks at VMI before all the ivy was removed. "Nijinsky" is my wife in costume for the role of the onstage manager in the "Fantasticks." The dog's name was Frodo. He was much loved by my wife. The dog liked that Bergama Yuruk rug. Did the RVN flag fly over the Ville Savoie? That is the small VN town of Song Be on the Cambodian border. That was the view from my balcony. The "Varangian" is Robert the Bruce at Sterling Castle in Scotland. "Neuschwanstein" is the Marksburg Castle ay Coblenz. The Bavarian house is the Post Hotel in Carmisch-Partenkirchen. St George is usually depicted with the dragon. That is not St. George. The "river" is the Mediterranean Sea and the island is Cyprus, a forward base for the crusades. The Nile can see seen just below and the City of Alexandria as well. My head appears just above Ataturk. I was also in makeup for the Fantastiks. The Arab is just an Arab. the Persian miniature from our collection means nothing in particular other than that the artist thought my wife and I liked each other. The boat belonged to me. It's name was "Gull." The chessboard is in the Burger Park in Frankfurt. I often played chess their with German locals. My wife was a dancer, thus the sprite. The mountain is Nui Ba Ra in Phuoc Long Province. The chickadee is there to remind me of my New England heritage, The artist assembled a number of things from my life before 1978 as an exercise for himself. Anything else? pl

nick b


It's an amazing painting. And thank you for the better view. I'm not a facebook user so I could not get an unobstructed look at it before. Can you give me an idea of its size?


nick b

4'X3' maybe. pl

David Habakkuk


Of course the picture is full of private messages, whose meaning would have been self-evident to Colonel Lang and his wife, but would necessarily be opaque to almost everybody else.

But then, one does not have be able to penetrate the 'esoteric meanings', to see a picture which is both pleasant and instructive to look at and to explore. There are contrasts which are amply apparent, even if the precise historical references elude one: different worlds, of war and of peace, of love and of belief, and many other things – including what looks like a somewhat self-willed dog – assembled together in an image where the realities of conflict are somehow dissolved, because of the gentleness of the drawing and even more of the colours used.

It is a remarkable picture, by someone who was clearly a very remarkable man.

As to where it might end up after Colonel Lang and his wife are dead, I thought for a moment of suggesting VMI, but it is probably too late for that.


David Habakkuk

He was indeed a remarkable man, a warrior poet.. You have caught the spirit of the thing exactly. There is a fine balance in the picture between East and West. The knight marches toward the Holy Land and the Crusade in the hope of salvation in his Christian faith but his lance pennant is a page from the Holy Qur'an. The Persian miniature in the upper left corner is emblematic of the knight's attempt to understand the people among whom he would strive, but that is balanced just below it with the wonderful mosaic portrait of Justinian. I have offered it to them and await an answer. pl


Ataturk's rendering would be from between 1919 and 1923, where he would be in his 40's and in the thick of the war of independence. The head piece he wears is a "kalpak", very common in south eastern Russia and Eastern Turkey in 18th and 19th centuries.

I honestly winched when I first saw the painting, than instead of looking away, I looked in. I think it is a very personal Mandala as someone wrote here, it has a code to break, a visual chronicle, like the Bayeux Tapestry, or the early cave paintings from the stone age, like in Dordogne. It is content rich, like Brughel Brothers paintings, however stylistically diverse, layered collage style, but not distracting. It reads, as I think it was meant to be, and a work of love for certain. Very valid, I will call it art. All the comments up to this point enlightened me also, it is a painting in the sense that it reflects life, as a painting should, and it enchants. I like it.

The beaver

@ nick b

I was like you and thus my mistake initially when I was describing my appreciation of the different phases, thus mistaking Ataturk for a German officer since I didn't see his head. Only when I clicked on the picture that I saw the whole painting and all the exquisite details that I missed initially. Amazing is the right word



When I first saw it I did not like it either. It is so praiseful that it made me uncomfortable. It must have been apparent. Sawyer told me that as the years passed I would like it more and more. He was right, as always. pl


I see the West Point helmet. Did you sail the Gull on the Hudson at West Point? Being on the faculty there must have been interesting and perhaps also fun? It is a beautiful and historic place. So much of our history paraded as youth on the Plain.


I agree with DH, and also it seemed to me that it may be a allegoric view how hard it is for the Muslim world to get out from the ancient ways, with 'knights', knives,faces paintings of war-men - to the brave new world of three dimensional chess, and sailing free of worries, as in the upper side of the painting shows - like a 'window' into the new world out of the constrained world view of today's Islamic mentality.


Colonel, off topic - apology for that - today died a very well known writer/journalist/TV reporter German/French Peter Scholl Latour, at 90. He spent time deserted from the Wehrmacht then joined the Foreign Legion, was in French Indochina, learned Arabic in Beyrut in a Jesuit school. Became reporter for the german TV station ZDF in Paris in the 1960's. He knew and admired Charles DeGaulle, also met Khomeini there and was in his entourage on Khomeini's return to Teheran. Wrote many books. He reported from Vietnam and was able to compare the French and the American military in action. He knew David Halberstam and wrote about Halberstam's influence on Kennedy - to wade deeper and deeper into the war there. His book in 1979 "Tod in Reisfeldern" (Death in Ricefields) became a bestseller.He also was visiting Afghanistan and was able to compare the American involvement there to Vietnam.
I wonder if you ever met this remarkable man.



It would make a wonderful Ex Libris for the books in the Colonel's library.

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