Photographs of artists in their studios are ubiquitous. They are often used in artists' catalogues and catalogue raisonnés to illustrate something of the way an artist works. This photograph of the artist Herbert Truman painting in the crypt of St Nicholas Church, Bristol, is unremarkable as such photographs go - the artist was not nationally renowned - but the fact that the painting he is seen working on, and also the painting depicted in the centre of the altarpiece on the far wall, are both in Bristol's collection, creates a unique group of linked objects particularly when viewed together. Not only does this photograph capture a bewildering level of representation - a photograph of an artist painting a painting of a painting - it also elicits a number of questions. Why is the crypt, normally a place to store funerary relics, set up as a place of worship? And if this photograph really does record an artist hard at work, why are there a number of obvious things wrong with it?
image: detail from a photograph showing the artist Herbert Truman apparently painting in the crypt of St Nicholas church (Mb7390)