This piece was performed at the University of East Anglia on the 6th December, 2014 as part of an event entitled ‘An Afternoon with Iris: Life, Thought, Writing’.
Murdoch’s great love of the Flaying of Marsyas ignited Phillips’ inspiration. ‘When the National Portrait Gallery commissioned me to paint her portrait I recalled our conversation’, he said, and he ‘started a fairly hasty copy of the picture to act as a backdrop so that she might sit in front of the head of Marsyas.’ Phillips sketched in the Titian with broad brushstrokes; in contrast, he rendered the image of Murdoch herself with great precision and imbued it with a translucent, otherworldly light
Serious book collecting isn’t the draw it was for earlier generations, and the biggest prices are still attached to the works of the canonical dead white males (although Dickens can be surprisingly cheap), making Murdoch and some of her contemporaries viable and reasonable to collect. So how do you go about starting a collection of Murdoch’s works? Where do you find them? And, crucially, how much should you pay?