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It was Heatherley’s that set me wrong. This is Butler’s largest and most successful painting. It satirises the dusty, macabre jumble out of which ‘grand styleVictorian classicism was expected to arise. Heatherley’s art school in Newman Street, which Butler attended for a number of years, was run by the old man shown here, who famously never took a holiday. His mending of a skeleton often misused by students pinpoints Butler’s rejection of academicism.

September 2004