This foot-and-a-half tall, two foot wide oil painting features the four members of the Beatles standing in sea of thigh-deep water, singing and waving. The pastel colors - yellows, greens, violets and oranges - have been applied somewhat randomly in a paint-by-numbers style, resulting in lime green faces, mauve arms, and teal hands. The paint is thick and creamy, predominantly in the rippling water, and the canvas has been mounted on velvet-covered wood, creating the texture of buttercream frosting, or felted wool. A large signature has been scrawled across the middle of the painting in the bottom half of the canvas, as if John Lennon had autographed the piece with a forest green marker. 

On the back of Jess's painting “Fig. 4: Far and Few,” on which he transcribed a verse from "The Jumblies," a fanciful poem by Edward Lear about tiny adventurers who live in the sea. The lines are handwritten in black ink across the wooden surface. Over the title of the painting is fastened the Beatles bubblegum card on which the work is based, along with "Jess '65" in large cursive script. Along the edges of the panel and on the corner braces are various identification and shipping labels from museum and galleries exhibitions where the painting has been shown. The poem reads: They sailed to the Western Sea, they did/, To a land all covered with trees/, And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,/ And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,/ And a hive of silvery Bees./And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,/And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,/And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,/And no end of Stilton Cheese./ Far and few, far and few,/ Are the lands where the Jumblies live;/ Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,/  And they went to sea in a Sieve.
Jess, Fig. 4 -- Far And Few...: Translation #15, 1965
Jess, Fig. 4 -- Far And Few...: Translation #15, 1965; oil on canvas mounted on velvet-covered wood, 17 15/16 in. x 26 1/4 in. (45.56 cm x 66.68 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Mrs. Manfred Bransten Special Fund purchase; © JESS -The Jess Collins Trust
Jess, Fig. 4 -- Far And Few...: Translation #15, 1965

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Fig. 4 -- Far And Few...: Translation #15
Artist name
Jess
Date created
1965
Classification
painting
Medium
oil on canvas mounted on velvet-covered wood
Dimensions
17 15/16 in. x 26 1/4 in. (45.56 cm x 66.68 cm)
Date acquired
1973
Credit
Collection SFMOMA
Mrs. Manfred Bransten Special Fund purchase
Copyright
© JESS -The Jess Collins Trust
Permanent URL
https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/73.36
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

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