The Fountain of Indolence

I discovered Salvador Dalí, I think, in my first year of University, back in the earliest of the 90s. Something about his art struck a chord in me, and I’ve been fascinated by him ever since. So when I found out that I hadn’t missed seeing his paintings at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, of course I went to check it out.

But a funny thing happened. Of all the paintings and sculptures I saw (and let me tell you, friend, I saw a lot), the one that struck me most wasn’t a Dalí piece at all.

It was The Fountain of Indolence, by Joseph Mallord William Turner.


Something about it — the tree, the fountain, the mountains in the distance and the revelers in the foreground, the narrow channel of water passing into the front — really called out to me. It put me in mind of the feeling I got when reading Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, though I’m at a loss to explain why.

It got me, the way that art sometimes does, in a visceral way; a way that bypassed my brain entirely, and went straight for my gut.