Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sunday 4th December - The Annunciation

I always think of images of the Annunciation at this time of year for some reason.  Probably because we are told the whole story from Angel Surprise to Donkey to Stable, all in one go.  For that reason, even though in theory all this happened back in the Spring (I know, humour me), Mary's pregnancy from Immaculate Conception to birth seems to last about a month.  Bring on the Annunciation pictures!

The Annunciation (1898) Robert Fowler
Well, if you will go wandering around in a field of lilies, this sort of thing is bound to happen. Mary, wearing a less traditional pink frock, has been surprised in a meadow by a red-winged Gabriel.  Again, we have the question of the red wings, but I'm guessing they are red mainly as a contrast to the white and green in the picture.  Just in case we were in any doubt, Gabriel is pointing up at God, answering the age old question 'Who's the Daddy?'  Blimey, it's like a festive edition of the Jeremy Kyle Show when you think about it. Unmarried couple turn up in the middle of the night, she's pregnant and the Father's friend was the one who gave her the news...

The Annunciation Frederick James Shield
Here's another point-y Gabriel - what's with all the pointing?  In all likelihood Mary is probably thinking 'So you don't think I'm bright enough to know where God lives but I'm okay carrying the Saviour of Mankind. Thanks for that.'

Robert Fowler and his magnificent moustache
So, to our chap Robert Fowler - born in Fife, he seems to be the Scottish Alma Tadema or Lord Leighton, spending his time in the British Museum being inspired by the Elgin Marbles.  His work is very reminiscent of theirs...
Dance of Salome (1885)
But then looking at his Angel Gabriel above, the handling of paint is much freer and not so polished and Academy.  Although I always like the clean, crisp drapery of Victorian classical, something about the soft focus pastel of his Annunciation reminds me of the illustrations I have in the Bible I was given on my Christening. I shall have to investigate who did the illustrations in my many and varied Bibles, heaven knows we have a few...

Birth of Venus (c.1890s)
Anyway, Robert Fowler is not a name I know well but I now would like to see some more of his stuff, especially if it is as pretty as his Birth of Venus.  Do you think the seagulls circling round her think she's got some chips?

Anyway, on that profound question I'm off to rest my aching feet after a day of walking around the Harry Potter Studio Tour for Lily's birthday (which is next week) and so I'll be with you again tomorrow...

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Saturday 3rd December - The Angel of the Annunciation

First weekend of Angelvent and I've taken a few minutes out of sewing Hogwarts robes (don't ask) to bring you this rather lovely picture...

The Angel of the Annunciation Mary Gwenllian Gibson
 Isn't that marvellous?  The wings are splendidly patriotic, in red, white and blue.  Now, this is the Angel Gabriel I assume from the title, so should have the white wings of an Archangel, but also has the blue of a Cherub and the red of a Seraph.  I wonder if that is an artistic way of alluding to the blue of the Virgin Mary and the red of the crucifixion? Anyway, I really like the faint, stylised lilies on thehis sleeves and the turquoise cape that flows from the golden collar.  That brought me on to thinking about haloes.  Aren't they odd things when you think about it? It's a neat visual shorthand to show you the holy people in the picture but the origins of the convention seem a little less Christian. Homer describes the glowing light around the heads of heroes at the end of battles, and depictions of Perseus killing Medusa sometimes had a glow around his head. There are lots of different haloes in Christian iconography, with cruciform haloes for Jesus (one with a cross inside it), triangular haloes and nice flame-y haloes, like the one above. There is never a need to go under-haloed, apparently...

Detail of Angels (1460-80) Benozzo Gozzoli
 Although our Angel Gabriel at the top was painted around the beginning of the twentieth century, it is obviously drawing its inspiration from the flattened forms of the Renaissance. It reminded me of that wonderful Virgin Mary by May Cooksey...

Maria Virgo (1914) May Cooksey
Very nice too. So, who was the artist, Mary Gwenllian Gibson?  Daughter of a pharmacist, Mary Gibson was born in 1888 in Wolverhampton.  She studied and then taught at the Wolverhampton School of Art, teaching leatherwork, needlework and bookbinding.  In 1926 she exhibited three leather panels intended to be an altar front, at the Royal Society of Artists Birmingham.  She was also a painter, exhibiting at the Royal Academy in the 1940s and 50s, and eventually dying in 1966.

Mary Gibson (c.1930s) Robert Jackson Emerson
Mary was a friend and colleague of the sculptor and painter Robert Jackson Emerson.  The couple were very close and Mary was at Emerson's bedside (presumably as well as his wife) when he died in December 1944.  Despite living in Devon in her retirement, when she died in 1966, her body was taken back to Wolverhampton and lies not far from Emerson's, in St Phillip's Churchyard.

There are some lovely photographs of the frame of Gibson's angel at Richard Christie's blog here.  

I'll see you all tomorrow...

Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday 2nd December - An Angel with Cymbals Amongst Fire

Welcome to Day Two of Angelvent, a leisurely stroll through some nice pictures of angels, with a glass of sloe gin in one hand and a mince pie in the other.  And that's just breakfast.  Anyhow, today I bring you this rather fetching angel...

An Angel with Cymbals Amongst Fire (1898) Thomas Millie Dow
Well, there you go then.  One thing I immediately noticed (other than his legs) was that the cymbals aren't attached to his hands at all, just balanced there.  That is both beautiful and precarious.  Surely he is going to drop them and then you don't want to be bending over in a skirt that short, trust me.  Mind you, being an angel, the cymbals probably just stay on his hands by celestial magic or something.

An Angel with a Lyre (1898)
Dow obviously did a nice angel, but then his work always seems to have a magical edge, with such paintings as The Kelpie (1895) which I'm sure you are familiar with even if you didn't know who it was by.  Anyway, Thomas Millie Dow has been a bit of a neglected artist until the twenty-first century.  He is mentioned in David Martin's influential book on the Glasgow Boys of 1898 (for a free copy go here) but otherwise he's not someone whose name has become household even though many of his pictures are reasonably well known.

The Herald of Winter (1894)

I've used Dow's work before in Blogvent.  In 2012 I used The Herald of Winter which is both odd and jolly in equal measure.  For Dow, the coming of Winter meant only one thing it seems, time to take to the wing.  A bit of a traveller, he started out in Fife, then studied in Paris, then travelled extensively in Canada, America, Italy and Tangiers.  A reason for his lack of posthumous fame might be the dismissive attitude of Dow's contemporary, the Scottish National Gallery Director Sir James Caw.  Caw felt Dow's work relied on 'decorative beauty as opposed to intellectual and emotional significance', and that The Herald of Spring, for example, was 'charming but inexpressive'.  Well, that's just rude.

Anyway back to the chap at the top, with his miniskirt and sandals.  When you start looking at pictures of angels, you have to start thinking about whether you are surprised when angels are portrayed as obviously male.  Now, this should not surprise me as in Victorian art an awful lot of angels are male or at least androgynous enough to be neither or both female or male at first glance.  I think my surprise comes from this...

That's your archetypal angel of Victorian-ness.  She's a pretty blonde girl in a white frock.  Then this sort of thing happens...

My apologies to Anna Davies, Karen Thompson, Val Mitchell and Joanna Martin
I would love to hear from you if your school allowed the boys to be angels.  That's me in the gold tinsel halo as I was the Angel Gabriel.  I'm not sure why we insist on little girls being the angels in the school play as it can't be about wearing a frock as the Shepherds and Kings all wore robes too.  I had great hopes of Lily being a Christmas Angel because of her lovely blonde hair but instead she was the chicken at the Nativity. There's a costume challenge for parents.  Looking back at our school Nativity, above, I remember I was dead jealous of Joanna Martin who got to be Mary, but then she had to hold hands with Joseph and we all know boys smell, so what the Lord gives with one hand, he takes with the other.

On that Biblical note I'll be off and see you tomorrow...

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Thursday 1st December - The Nativity Angel

Well, here we are again!  Welcome to the annual ridiculous spectacle that is Blogvent, or for this month...

Angelvent!

Now, I know it sounds like the grill on the back of an angel where the hot air comes out, but Angelvent will be 24 days of lovely pictures of angels to get you in a Christmas-y mood.  To start off, we have this little cutie...

Angel of the Nativity (Laura Gurney) (1872) Julia Margaret Cameron
I was rather spoiled with pictured of winged poppets by Julia Margaret Cameron but I'll start here with little Laura Gurney, or Dame Laura Troubridge as she became after she married Thomas the Stockbroker in 1893.  Hers is a lovely happy story of wealth and no asylums, which is probably why I didn't know much about her.  She was Cameron's great-neice, the granddaughter of Sara Pattle, who became Sara Prinsep of Little Holland House.  Being family, little Laura and her sister Rachel were among Auntie Julia's regular victims...

Rachel and Laura Gurney (1872)
Not Sleepy (1872)

Group (Laura, Mary Hillier, Rachel and Daisy Taylor) (1872)
Laura Gurney inhabits the role of Cameron's angelic child, shared by many others.  Just as Mary Hillier became the Holy Mother of the images, the protector of all the children she could hold in her wide arms, children seemed incomplete without those beautiful swan wings.  There are a suite of pictures of 'cupids' chubby and mischievous, but somehow Laura's pious and solemn expression is more angelic than pagan.  I find the image Not Sleepy very interesting; on one level it makes me smile as the best way to photograph children is when they are asleep.  My favourite image of Lily-Rose when she was a baby is when she was spark out, rather than the many others we have of her screaming her lungs out, red and angry and shouty (she has been an absolute angel from a year old so I think I got off lightly).

The Shunammite Woman and Her Dead Son (Percy Keown and Mary Ryan) (1865)
Many of Cameron's images of babies are asleep (essential for that long exposure), for example Madonna and Child from 1866 where Mary Hillier cradles a sleeping Percy Keown.  However, a very similar image, The Shunammite Woman and Her Dead Son from 1865 shows Mary Ryan and Percy together, but this time he is meant to be dead.  The reason I picked up on the poignancy of Not Sleepy for two very fidget-y girls is that in 1872 Cameron took four photographs of 10 year old Adeline Clogstoun (the same age as my daughter).  What makes these photographs very difficult for me to look at is that they were taken when Adeline had died after an accident.  She is stretched out in a bed, her hands folded and for all the world like she is sleeping.  I have many questions about these pictures and why Cameron did not attempt to do the same when her own daughter died, but I find the images upsetting.  It's when the mother part of me wins out over the art historian part, despite the fact that I am normally fine with post mortem Victorian photographs.  Anyway, given that the images of Laura and Rachel Gurney were taken in the November and Adeline died in the June of the same year I wonder if the image of a sleeping child had lost its appeal.  In any case, I take the title Not Sleepy to be an very emphatic statement of the beauty of life, however much it fidgets.

This Blogvent I will recommend the occasional book for your shopping list but mainly I will be asking very politely if you would please donate some money to Fanny Cornforth's memorial fund via our funding site.  We have raised over £600 so far but we would love to reach our target, so if you want to help us remember a Stunner in need, pop over and donate.  There are some rewards for various levels and each donation will help us towards our target, no matter how small.

See you tomorrow for more Angelvent gorgeousness...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Dolly has a Secret...

When I was recently over in Germany with family, my lovely sister-in-law and I had a film night (which then carried on the next morning).  Unwittingly, our film night/morning had two themes.  The first theme was 'films our husbands are too cowardly to see' and the second was 'sodding scary doll films'.  Our films of choice were The Boy...

Oh deary me...

And Annabelle...

For goodness sake...
Now, I always liked dolls, but both films make you reconsider your life choices about having them in the house. As it's me, I got to thinking about art (and making sure the doors were locked)...

So much hair...
The Victorians loved dolls.  Massive china ones, little baby ones, painted faces and rolling eyes, the fancier the better. An icon of childhood, little girls were pictured with mini versions of themselves, or idealised adults in miniature, all stiff and smart and static. When you start looking, these little china 'mini-me's are everywhere...

Young Girl and her Doll Kate Perugini
You'll be unsurprised to learn that a great number of doll pictures involve a little girl wearing lovely clothes and looking cute.  Kate Perugini (wife of Charles Collins, then Charles Perugini, and daughter of Dickens) gives us a very well dressed little lady in one of those puffed-up mop caps you see in paintings of rich people's children, such as Millais' Cherry Ripe. That in turn is referencing Penelope Boothby by Sir Joshua Reynolds, a portrait of an adorable, ill-fated poppet.  Lewis Carroll took photographs of Xie Kitchen dressed as a rather disturbingly Lolita-ish version of Miss Boothby, which is more about the perils of attempting to dress a pubescent young woman as a little girl rather than a reflection of Carroll's taste.  Let's move on...

Alice in Wonderland (1879) George Dunlop Leslie
Here we go, this is much less dodgy ground.  I really like this painting, something about the poses of the the mother and child and the stripey sofa - it's a very satisfying image.  A mother reads Alice in Wonderland to her daughter (back to Carroll again), or is the little girl called Alice and she is in a sort of wonderland as her mother reads to her.  I hadn't really spent much time considering the doll - does it represent Alice falling down the rabbit hole?  It looks very much like the little girl, so is it a play on Alice being smaller and bigger?

Annabel and her Toys (1912) Harrington Mann
Harrington Mann seems to have done quite a number of paintings of girls and their toys, which is a weird thing to specialize in but we all have to make a living.  The disarray of playthings around her feet might signify the riches Annabel's family enjoys, or the opportunities on offer because of her position in life.  More likely it's about the fact that no matter what surrounds her, Annabel's only opportunity is to become a mother, have a little Annabel of her own.  I suspect the doll is wearing a christening gown (which are unfeasibly long and impractical) - maybe it is Annabel's own gown?  The mother in me does want to shout 'look at the state of your room' when looking at this painting...

The Tea Party Agnes E Walker
Moving on from an accessory in portraits, dolls often appear as part of a tableau.  Here we have a little girl holding a tea party.  The dolls on the chair seem a bit rambunctious but I like to think this painting could be titled 'It's not a party until the tiny horse arrives'.  The staging of the dolls up high, then down to the girl, then down to tiny horse, draws the eye nicely down the canvas but also sets up a sort of hierarchy.  The girl seems to be playing maid to the dolls. If the dolls don't get their tea on time there will be hell to pay, thinks Tiny Horse.

Girl in Blue Dressing her Doll James Crayer
Again, an image of a girl playing maid or mother to her doll, this time dressing her up.  She has abandoned her book, just seen peeking out from that icy blue skirt, so that she can play, hinting that girls and reading just don't go together.  Everyone knows that reading overheats the female brain and what we should really be doing is practicing for motherhood.  Or something.  Anyway, I like to think that it is a comment on parenting books, which are by and large a waste of time and money.  Until I write one, which will be marvellous and probably entitled 'I've forgotten how to sleep lying down'.  Actually, that is the least filthy and honest of the titles I have in mind, some of the others refer to stitches, sneezing, hand mirrors, crying in Waitrose and 32 hours of labour.  Let's move on.

Girl Making Clothes for a Doll Philippe Francois Sauvage
There is an interesting contrast between the china doll and her new clothes and the girl in her slightly more rustic surroundings.  Everything and everyone is neat and tidy but the dressing of the doll in her bespoke wardrobe is definitely aspirational, as if the girl is living vicariously through her doll. This is not a little girl in a nice household looking at a reflection of herself, this is a girl making do and being creative.  My grandmother used to make clothes for my Sindy which were the height of 60s and 70s fashion.  My Sindy doll used to go about dressed up like Margo from The Good Life.  Marvellous.

Playing with Dolls Mary Louise Gow
This is somewhat posher, but I'm not sure I like how needy the doll in the pink is.  Is this a comment on favourites, a mother showing favouritism to one child over another?  Little Miss Blue Bonnet is getting all the attention, and she is almost literally a reflection of her owner.  There is no bonnet for Miss Pink.  Oh deary me.

The Tȇte-a-Tȇte Tea George Bernard O'Neill
Sometimes it seems that a doll can stand in for a friend when there are none others available.  Maybe it's something about their inability to argue that makes them perfect companions, and their inability to talk makes them great to confide in and gossip with. This little girl is telling dolly all about what she saw the girl at number 38 doing last Thursday afternoon.  Scandalous.

The Secret Emily Crawford
Whatever the girl in pink is confiding to her friend will be all over the nursery before supper.  The doll is just waiting until the girls have to go to tea before spreading the gossip. There's a cuddly badger on the shelf who is really judgmental.

Hearts of Oak (1875) James Clarke Hook
Outside the confines of the nursery, the doll's life becomes a little more precarious.  No-one has noticed that the skittle-like doll has been thrown from its little truck.  It must be hard work being an ominous portent and as we are by the sea, near some little boats, I wonder if the father is a fisherman who might not be coming back from his next trip.  Never mind, Mummy will just carve them a new daddy, apparently.  

Repairing the Doll (1867) Alexander Burr
I suppose it is inevitable that dolls get broken.  We have a spate of running repairs on various things in our house, but mercifully stuffed animals (Lily's favourite) can be easily stitched back together. China, wood and other breakable materials must have made solid toys but when they broke it was a skilled job to make them right. 

The Broken Doll (1895) Pedro de Vega Munoz
Broken dolls call for elderly gentlemen to fix them.  In both the pictures above, the doll has been taken to Granddad (or Dad, life was hard back then) for repair.  Grandfather would have been a skilled man, able to make and mend a wooden doll.  In the second picture you get the idea that the doll is a little bit of brightness in the dark house, with her little pink dress.  In a way she is like the leggy pot plant by the window, something that serves no purpose other than provide some pleasure which seems in short supply.

The Old Doll Pierre Oliver Cooman
This is possibly the most horrific painting I've seen for a while.  It took me a while to notice the little hammer in the girl's hand.  The pair are sitting on animal skins possibly hinting at the vicious nature they are suppressing.  Something tells me that dolly's lost leg was not an accident and they are not mending her - look at the way that the child on the left is holding her arm.  It looks like the doll is being restrained and tortured.  Lawks, I'm not sure I'd want that on my wall.

In the Morning Room (1905) William Rothenstein
In conclusion, the more you look, the less innocent dolls look.  They are a reflection of our nature, for better or worse.  They show us to be caring, industrious, vain and cruel.  Girls cradle them, dress them and worry over them when they are injured.  Through their treatment of their dolls they show their willingness and fitness to be mothers, their ability to care for others, often at the expense of their own position and comfort.  In light of this, the two girls pulling the doll apart are either monsters or critics of the patriarchal oppression that forces them into such narrow roles.  Or something.  Anyway, if we are to look on the bright side, the doll stands for the limitless capacity for love which is not learnt but innate.  Often the male counterpart is dressed for battle, like our little native american brave above, or holding toy soldiers.  It would be tempting to speculate the the male and female character is thus summed up as creation and destruction, life and death, war and peace.  Therefore, returning to the films I watched, when we imagine a doll to be malicious, what does that say about our parenting skills? I dread to think...
Kate Matilda Bentley Fred Brown
On that note, can I suggest you read 'The Dressmaker's Doll' by Agatha Christie, a perfect reflection on the nature of dolls and our relationship with them.  Plus, it's damn scary too and Annabelle rips it off something rotten.  Oh, and out of the two films I saw The Boy is eminently the better and the doll is not quite as disturbing. 

Not quite....

Monday, 21 November 2016

Review: Meeting Modernism

It won't come as a massive surprise to you that I'm not a big fan of modern art.  Sorry, that should be Modern Art, with nice big capital letters, because when you hear people talk about Modern Art it tends to consist of Modern Art is great, Victorian Art is rubbish.  Now, you and I both know that the truth is a mixture of both, for example there are some appalling pieces of Victorian art as well as being some pieces of sublime beauty.  Likewise, therefore I am rather partial to twentieth century figurative art, which is why I was most happy to learn the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth were doing an exhibition of their twentieth century art collection...

Poster for the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery (1922)
Whilst primarily a gallery of gorgeous nineteenth century art, the Russell-Cotes has always had room for some very special works of 'modern' art.  Usually kept in the Morning Room, these, and many others, have been moved into the main exhibition gallery and are a group of joyful, beautiful exuberance. They are part of the collection brought in by the first curators after the death of the founders Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes in the 1920s.  There are landscapes, War Art and Golden Age pieces that capture the romance of interwar years.

Spray (1920-30) Harold Sandys Williamson
I have a particular weakness for Golden Age: Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, Enid Blyton, bobbed hair and Pennies from Heaven.  It's all marvellously glamorous and a number of the art works in this exhibition reflect this wonderful aesthetic.

The Bather (c.1930) Thomas Martine Ronaldson
There is something particularly fitting in seeing these seaside images of health and vitality in a gallery that overlooks the ocean, and they are a collection of sparkly pearly skin and turquoise sea.  It's enough to make you want to strip off and leap into the Solent.  Okay, maybe not in November...

Te aho te rangi wharepu (1907) Charles Frederick Goldie
There are also some lovely references to the Russell-Cotes' passions including a set of paintings of the indigenous people of New Zealand, a country beloved by Merton and Annie. I have always liked seeing the Russell-Cotes' collection of Goldie's Maori men and women as they have such a solemn dignity and they are extremely moving pieces of art.

Boy and Goat Joseph Hermon Cawthra

St Francis of Assisi (1930s) Winifred Leveritt
There are pieces of sculpture included, some tradition like the little boy and the goat, some more stylised, like St Francis of Assisi by Winifred Leveritt. This shows the tension inherent in the show - at what point did Victorian style lose its grip on public taste?  What replaced it?

At the Well of Samaria (1935) Joseph Southall
For some, taste didn't change.  As late as the Second World War, artists more traditionally thought of as Victorian or early Edwardian were producing works in a similar vein.  However, something like Southall's stiff tempera medievalism fits nicely with Eric Gill's overly sensual Biblical studies, very modern in rendering.  Seeing them together it gives a more honest narrative of the evolution of artistic taste.  The idea that Victorian notions of style and subject stopped with the death of the old queen becomes nonsense when faced with someone like Southall or even Frank Cadogan Cowper, merrily sticking to their guns in the middle of the twentieth century.

Near  Worbarrow Bay, Dorset (1930) Philip Leslie Moffatt Ward
There is plenty of local colour in the exhibition, such as this jolly landscape which could easily be titled 'Five Go Mad in Dorset' and make you long for some ginger beer and an intrigue about smuggling.

Miss Chaseley on the Undercliff (1927) Maxwell Armfield
Finally, special mention has to be made to one of my favourite modern paintings in the Russell-Cotes collection.  I love Miss Chaseley on the Undercliff because of the amount of questions it raises: She is 'Miss' Chaseley, yet wears a wedding ring.  The flappers coming down the path seem calm and yet in the tiny pond to the right the boat is being tossed around in a storm.  She wears what seems to be Edwardian dress, yet it is 1927.  I have many outrageous theories about Miss Chaseley (who was Armfield's landlady when he was boarding in Bournemouth) and will happily share them with anyone who fancies a bit of speculation but they revolve around a naval death...

Self Portrait (1941) William D Dring
The exhibition is on until next April and is a lovely way to brighten the Winter months, so get yourself over to Bournemouth.  Further information can be found here.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

At the Heart of the Souls

This autumn I was asked to curate a small exhibition at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery in Bournemouth.  As some of you will know, the Russell-Cotes were given a collection of drawings by the Duchess of Rutland, Violet Manners, and I had been helping with some research, so when I was asked if I could think of a subject for an exhibition, I immediately asked if I could choose some of the absolutely beautiful drawings.  Any excuse to see Harry Cust...

Henry Cust (1861-1917) 
Oh Harry, I really need a big picture of you in my office to cheer me up when things get gloomy.  Anyway, apparently you can't have just one picture and call it an exhibition, so I picked another seven and they are now displayed in the Morning Room at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery on the East Cliff overlooking the sea.

Violet Manners' self portrait
When Colonel Charles Lindsay noticed his 5 years old daughter, Violet, was a promising artist, he approached Burne-Jones to ask for drawing lessons.  Burne-Jones recommended that the child be made to draw her own reflection over and over until she improved as that was all the teaching she needed.  Either he couldn't be bothered with a precocious child or he was a genius, but Burne-Jones was right and the portraits Violet produced of her friends and family are utterly beautiful gems of detail and expression.  Not only that but her friends turned out to be some of the most important people of the later Victorian period...

Princess Henry of Battenberg (Princess Beatrice) (1857-1944)
From Prime Ministers, actresses, scandalous novelists and princesses, there are more than merely Lords and Ladies on show here.  I had many happy hours scouring the newspapers of the time finding gossip and intrigue about broken engagements and rigorous beauty regimes as well as political highs and lows of the people who moved in Violet's social circle.
The Hon. Neil Primrose (1882-1917)
I was touched by stories of loss, as many of Violet's social circle lost children in the First World War. Cherubic Neil Primrose is one of the young men who went to the First World War never to return, and the images of Kipling and Asquith show fathers who encouraged their sons to go only to be devastated by the inevitable result.

Amelia Rives (Princess Troubetzkoy) (1863-1945)
The Russell-Cotes have a lovely bit of history with the work of Violet Manners; she held a show there in the 1930s and they bought one of the images in their quite large collection from the artist then.  The rest come from a donation in the 1970s together with a lovely letter of authenticity from Diana Cooper, daughter of the artist and someone whose photograph is in the dictionary under 'Bright Young Thing'.  When I grow up I want to be as glam as Diana Cooper and send missives to people from my house in France.

The Earl of Oxford and Asquith (Herbert Asquith PM) (1852-1928)
If you want to read more about the people I have featured, I have written an article for the ArtUK website filled with scandal and delights.  If you fancy popping down to Bournemouth to see my exhibition, it's on from now until April 2017, alongside their Meeting Modernism exhibition which I'll review later in the week.