A Stain Transformed

Many years ago, in a Scottish seaside inn, a group of fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a maid was walking past with a pot of tea, one of the fishermen made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand collided with the teapot and sent it crashing against the whitewashed wall, where its contents left an irregular brown patch.

Standing nearby, the horrified innkeeper surveyed the damage and said, “That stain will never come out. The whole wall will have to be repainted.”

“Perhaps not.”

All eyes turned to the stranger who had just spoken.

“Let me work with the stain,” said the stranger. “If my work meets your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall.”

The stranger picked up a box and went to the wall. He withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of colour and swashes of shading. The random splashes of tea had been turned into the image of a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers. At the bottom of the picture, the man inscribed his signature: E.H. Landseer.

In 1851, Sir Edwin Landseer painted the famous Monarch of the Glen and in 1858 was commissioned by the British government to make the four bronze lions which sit at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square to this day.

‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’
– Isaiah 1:18

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