The refurbished Tate Britain reopened this week, including the Rex Whistler restaurant, the walls of which are lined with Rex Whistler’s painting The Pursuit of Rare Meats.
Here’s a brochure, dating from some point mid-century, which explains the painting. The story was a collaboration with the novelist Edith Olivier.
An expedition leaves the ducal palace of Epicurania, which includes the Crown Prince Etienne and Princess Claudia, led by the son of an impoverised Polish nobleman on a bicycle (a character depicted as Rex Whistler). They travel through a typically Whistler-ish Arcadian landscape, where his dark humour is often at work: “Meanwhile, a disaster occurs upstream where, due to his excitement at seeing a balloon overhead, a small boy falls into the river and is drowned”.
The Pursuit of Rare Meats ends with the news that, “A sad result of the expedition was the death of the dowager duchess, who took too keen an interest for her age in sampling the rare meats collected”.