Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7589/Phi

Posted by John on February 11th, 2011


As always with Phi, a good crossword with no apparent weaknesses, all the clues utterly sound and satisfactory. No particular clue stood out for me, but that is often the case with Phi: it is all done in a thoroughly workmanlike manner.

Today we have to think of a number of 1acs, something I just about managed. In case you suspect me, I’ve provided a link to each of them.

1 AR(T)IST{o} — crucial to many of the across clues and this took me longer than it should because of the suggestion that the answer was in some way feminine
5 M(ILL)ET — Millet
8 F RAG ON A RD — Fragonard
9 MODE M — if the first way is mode A, the second mode B, the thirteenth (because M is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet) is fancifully mode M
11 LI(M)N{e} — to limn is to draw or paint, especially in watercolours
12 BURN(E J ONE)S — Burne-Jones
13 LAND SEER — someone who observes the countryside is arguably a seer of land — Landseer
15 IS SUE{t}
17 RED ON — I must admit this artist was only in the dim recesses of my memory and Rodin came more readily to mind, although of course I couldn’t make it work — I think this is a snooker reference: if the red is on it’s ready to be potted — Redon
19 NAME-DROP — (pardon me)*
22 STONEMASON — (ton (same)rev.) in son — son = disciple didn’t spring to mind, but it’s in Chambers
23 KLEE — here ‘back to front’ doesn’t mean ‘reversed': the last letter (of leek) is put to the front — Klee
25 SCENE — “seen”
26 HIROSHIGE — (his go)* in hire — no, I may be a bit western-centric as far as artists are concerned, but I hadn’t either — Hiroshige — although perhaps I should have done, for his paintings are very familiar
27 SE(UR)AT — the first of the thematic answers that I got, which indicated the theme — the Seat is a boon for setters nowadays and a Spanish car is always a Seat — the other day on the Times site someone was saying that we really should put Ur = ancient city out to grass — Seurat
28 ROT H KO — Rothko
2 RO(AD)MAN — 16 is LABOURER, the def
3 I(CO)N{n}
4 TRADUCED — duc in (trade)*
5 MODENA — mode (an)rev.
6 LI(M)E JU{st}ICE
8 FOLKLORISTS — (flirts looks)*
10 MASTERPIECE — (create simp{l}e)*
14 SONNETEER — ({v}erse on net)*
16 L AB(OUR)ER — I don’t quite see what is going on in the surface here: it doesn’t seem to make sense
18 DI(O C{hurch}ES E
20 ROLLICK — (ill)rev. in rock — the word ‘rollicking’ is more common perhaps, but it’s clear what ‘rollick’ means, even if it isn’t clear how ‘rollicking’ should be spelt: as so often in these cases, Chambers gives two alternatives without saying which is the more common one
21 C AC(HE)T
24 P{reviou}S S(tatemen}T — this seems a rather dodgy word, but it is in Chambers

18 Responses to “Independent 7589/Phi”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, John.

    I never really thought I’d say this, but I didn’t really like this Phi. The clueing is impeccable as always; you couldn’t say otherwise. But I threw in the towel with quite a few to go. The theme didn’t float my boat, since art is not my strong point, but I have to say that in my opinion your average solver wouldn’t have heard of FRAGONARD, BURNE-JONES, REDON, KLEE or HIROSHIGE. It’s clear that Phi has tried to be very precise in giving you the route to the answer with these ones, but I guess my point is that if you don’t see the wordplay, then you’re knackered because unless you have a detailed knowledge of art, you won’t see the solution.

    Anax was saying yesterday that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, which is fair enough. This one just wasn’t for me today.

    No doubt someone’s beaten me to it, but 16dn is L (fifty) and ABER (German for ‘but’) surrounding OUR (‘of us’). Cue further discussion about what foreign words solvers should be expected to know.

    Thank you, Phi, for the puzzle.

  2. scchua says:

    Thanks John for the blog, and Phi for a puzzle, that’s quite dependent on getting the wordplay.

    Favourites were 9A MODEM, 22A STONEMASON, and 8A FRAGONARD. 27A SEURAT was what led me to the theme, of which a couple I had to confirm after getting the wordplay. RED ON in snooker simply means that you have clear sight of a red to enable a pot, assuming you’re skilled enough.

    Re ABER, I think it’s fair game that the solver should get a translation of any foreign word, if that helps with the wordplay.

  3. rodders says:

    Thanks for the blog – I also threw in the towel as once I got one across ( which I did early on ) I knew that my almost total ignorance of artists would make me fail which the above blog has proven to be true !!

  4. crypticsue says:

    My general-knowledge-crossword solving husband has a number of handy reference books, one of which I used to get the more obscure 1a’s in this crossword. Thanks to Phi for the very nice brain workout/knowledge increasing.

  5. Prolixic says:

    Much as I usually love a Phi Crossword, personally this one did not hit the mark for me but I appreciate that those with a wider interest in the arts or access to an encyclopedia of lesser known artists will have been jumping for joy!

    Although the cluing was as impeccable as usual, Hiroshige and Rothko finally did it for me!

  6. flashling says:

    Fraid I gave up on this with a few to go, my knowledge of artists is somewhat limited, and even coming here I’ve never heard of the answers. Thanks john for the blog as I’d never have completed it.

  7. Lenny says:

    It looks like I am in the minority again today because I enjoyed this much more than the last couple of Phi puzzles that I have tried. Most of the artists came fairly easily and I was pleased to deduce the existence of Hiroshige whom I had never heard of. Sadly, I plumped for Rodin at 17. In my defence I should point out that Rodin did paint as well as sculpt. I did not know Redon or the snooker term and imagined that Rod must be some arcane slang for a snooker cue.

  8. walruss says:

    I too felt thos one to be a bit off. The clueing was as good as it ever is with Phi, but there is sometimes a lack of zing in some of his puzzles. Still good though, and perhaps I was not in a research mood after Mrs Walruss brought back a couple of bottles of super red wine from one of her cluients!

  9. Phi says:

    Well, you win some you lose some. As I sit here glancing up from my Hiroshige desk diary to a shelf full of Klee catalogues, I find myself concerned at what you’re missing. Against that, I’d have to say I’m not sure I’d recognise a Millet if I tripped over one. But his name is known, as is that of Landseer (who is probably the least significant of the painters here), so no-one complains. But I shall have to hide these comments from the other half, who is the visual arts expert in our household.

    What is a little odd is the case of Odilon Redon, who seems to have inspired a reasonable glut of obscurity. And it’s odd because when he passed through an Independent puzzle of mine a few weeks/months ago, he raised scarcely a murmur. (Though I suspect it’s time for me to rebel against the automatic response of ‘I must have done Rodin/radon last time’ when faced with R_D_N.) But he was a hidden clue at that time, and I suspect that that probably allowed people to write him in confidently with a general mental feeling of ‘Yes, yes, heard of him – have I? Yes, of course I have’.

    I should also report that I may have a subconscious antipathy towards Rodin as he took as mistress (and subsequently abandoned) my great-uncle’s godfather’s sister Gwen.

  10. rodders says:

    Thanks for that Phi – you are normally my favourite setter as I seem to be able to get inside your head and complete in less than 30 minutes !
    Today you completely thrashed me and good luck to you – now if 1across had been sportsmen then I would be cock a hoop – artists…………oh dear !
    Keep up the good work anyway !!

  11. Lenny says:

    Thanks Phi. I understand your antipathy towards Rodin, at least towards his paintings. I bought a couple of his prints from the Museé Rodin but I had to choose carefully. Most of his watercolours are a bit too gynaecological for my taste. In fact, one of my prints called “Hommage à ma Grand mère “ depicts two ladies intertwined. Not relatives of yours I hope.

  12. Michael says:

    I’m in agreement with Lenny, I found this a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, so many thanks to Phi, and my art history teachers.

  13. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this and worked most of it out. Not an expert on painters tho had heard of quite a few of them (mainly thro crosswords).

    When I finally got stuck, went to reference lists which gave the rest pretty quickly, confirmed by the wordplay.

  14. sidey says:

    How sad that artists seem to be regarded as arcane knowledge while less than intimate acquaintance with the obscurities of sport is ridiculed. What a shame.

  15. ele says:

    I loved this puzzle too – thank you Phi, and John for the blog. The only one that defeated me was mendings (but it was getting late). Let’s hear it for the artists – I agree with sidey.

  16. Scarpia says:

    Thanks John and Phi.
    I loved this puzzle and am really quite surprised that so many of my fellow solvers found it difficult.
    I thought all the featured artists,with the possible exception of Hiroshige,were fairly well known.
    I also agree with sidey’s comment above.
    For the second time today I have been caught out by the use of a feminine example(1 across).I’m just pleased the nobleman in question wasn’t a count!
    For anyone wanting to view great art from the comfort of their armchair I would recommend Google’s new art project
    Whilst,obviously not rivalling the experience of seeing the great works ‘in the flesh’ as it were,it is a great way to view some wonderful paintings in close detail.

  17. Paul B says:

    I think it reasonable to expect solvers to have some accessible knowledge of painters, but it should be noted that crosswords enjoy a very deep acquaintance with cricket.

    Some painters have had short legs.

  18. Allan_C says:

    Hadn’t heard of Redon and plumped for Rodin. That left me only 26a, never having heard of Hiroshige, but a bit of googling tuned up this site: with an alphabetical index and I was able to trawl through it. Could be a useful resource in future.

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