There's an exhibition of photographs of jazz giants just opened in London. Marking the 50th anniversary of the legendary Ronnie Scott's club, The Spirit of Jazz will be on display at the Getty Images Gallery. Whilist looking at one of the exhibits- a study of Theolonius Monk- I couldn't help thinking of Courbet's Self-Portrait, better known as Man with a Pipe- placed next to Monk here. To me they seem to both convey that introspection associated with the artistic process. What they undoubtedly both show is the idea of reverie: a state of reflection, neither totally in this world nor out of it. Courbet seems less oblivious of the world, a bit too contrived, but Monk seems to have completely gone.
They're also representations of drug-taking: the hashish of 19th century romanticism in Courbet's case; the smoke-filled exhalation of some 20th century variant in Monk's. Mention of hashish leads me to free associate from images of drug-taking to Baudelaire, a colleague of Courbet for a time. He was immortalized in the artist's titanic The Artist's Studio where he reads a book.
Still within the frame of 19th century romanticism, I move from Baudelaire to Edgar Allan Poe, whose works Baudelaire translated into French, whilst using Poe to sustain his own gloomy, boudoir meditations. This link gives me the opportunity to mention an exhibition dedicated to the author of the Fall of the House of Usher, just started in Baltimore. Edgar Allan Poe: A Baltimore Icon, features works by such faithful interpreters of Poe as Manet, Gauguin and Redon. There's even a strand that considers drugs and madness in the context of Poe's art.