Haunted painting on show
AGRISLY painting believed to curse students into failing exams is among the prominent Victorian works on display as part of the Guildhall Art Gallery’s ‘Victorians Decoded: Art and Telegraphy’ (until January 22). Edwin Landseer’s Man Proposes, God Disposes (1864, right) depicts two polar bears devouring a ship’s remains, including the crew. It usually hangs at Royal Holloway, University of London, where it has been plaguing students for a century—one, driven mad from sitting near it, is said to have written only seven words on his exam paper: ‘The polar bears made me do it.’ Nowadays, superstitious exam-sitters feel safe, as the painting has been covered by a Union Flag since the 1970s.
The exhibition, which also includes rare artefacts such as codebooks and an interactive messaging machine, The Great Grammatizor, celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first transatlantic telegraph, between Queen Victoria and President James Buchanan (http://cityoflondon.gov. uk/guildhallartgallery).