Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Midsummer is a Time for Languid Lazing

I'll make this short as I am just too languid to write for long.  Today is Midsummer's Day, and accordingly I have spent the day in aesthetic draping and reclined on a marble seat, too exhausted to move due to the sweltering heat.

OK, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you never know.

Anyway, a quick, relaxed scan of my art books revealed some suitable pictures for today, the most notable of which must be Albert Moore's beautiful Midsummer.
Midsummer (1887) Albert Moore

Gosh, that orange is astonishing, and brings to mind the curled figure of Flaming June by Lord Leighton...

Flaming June (1895) Lord Frederic Leighton
 Sorry, I dozed off, where was I?  Oh yes, orange seems to be the colour of summer for the classical aesthetic crowd, naturally enough you would think.  It does bring to mind warmth, sunshine and the glow of lazy, young women sprawling around doing nothing, like my good self....

The Sweet Siesta of a Summer Day John William Godward
I really need to be lying on a tiger skin while typing this, that would help.  It reminds me an awful lot of a poster I had on my wall as a teenager...

Dolce Far Niente (1904) John William Godward

Apparently any sort of animal skin will do, but a peacock fan would probably come in handy right now. 

When it comes to summer, it seems that oranges are not the only fruit, sorry, colour, as I discovered when seeking a colour illustration for A Summer Night by Albert Moore.

A Summer Night (1884) Albert Moore
In black and white, I really thought I was looking at a golden bevy of young ladies, but although the furnishings are a delicate gilt, they are beautifully offset by the dark dove grey of the night, making their skin shine like pearls.  Maybe summer can be other than gold and flame?  Let me investigate further....

Green Summer (1864) Edward Burne-Jones
Well, that's a little more leafy and lush, and it's almost as if the women are part of the foliage.  I would have expected this picture to be called Spring rather than Summer, but the deep, woody green brings to mind walking among trees on a hot day, feeling the cool and shade, breathing in the deep emerald of nature.  For Ned, summer seems to be green, as his lone female personification of the season shows.

Summer (1869) Edward Burne-Jones
The woman, who I think may be Maria Zambaco, looks so marvellously cool in her diaphanous gown, standing in front of her glass-like pool.  Now this is a sort of summer I would like to experience, cool stone beneath my feet, although I think I may have to wear a slightly less revealing gown in case I had to open the door to the postman.

A Summer Morning (1897) Rupert Bunny
Now I'm feeling a little more awake, thanks to Ned Burne-Jones, I can show you one of my favourite summer pictures, namely A Summer Morning by the splendidly named Rupert Bunny.  Mr Bunny's works are a joy to look at (which is a fun thing to say out loud, go on, try it) and I do encourage you to Google him.  A Summer Morning has a glittering pool and a swan to recommend it, together with a very Waterhouse-esque woman attempting to charm the swan with a flower.  Doesn't she know they can break a man's arm?  I think I'll move on...

Summer Offering (1911) Lawrence Alma-Tadema
With Leighton, Moore and Godward getting their summer on, you couldn't expect Alma-Tadema to be left out, however he too seems to have gone for pink rather than orange.  I especially like the slightly odd composition of this work, the flowers almost blocking the woman's face, as if she is incidental to the work and the roses are the subject (which I suppose they are, being the 'summer offering').

Now I am feeling less languid and reclined I suppose I ought to go and make the best of the sunshine, as we all know an English summer is notoriously changeable, as Charles Perugini shows in the charming Summer Shower.

Summer Shower (1888) Charles Perugini
Mind you, I don't want to get my shuttle cock wet, and that isn't a euphemism.  I'm off for a lie down. 
Happy Summer equinox.


  1. Really enjoyed this post.Have just been to the Victoria and Albert museum in London to see "The Cult Of Beauty" really great!

  2. I loved The Cult of Beauty so much - so much fabulousness in such a small area :) When the V&A get it right, they do a marvellous job !

  3. Never heard of Mr. Bunny (giggle) before, but after googling his pictures, they're marvelous!

    This one fascinates me:

    What the blazes is the story there?? The lady looking in the mirror at far left is so buttoned-up traditional, and then in the foreground you have other ladies lounging about in the alltogether. I am quite intrigued....

  4. Now that is weird. Thanks for that Gracie...I wouldn't even like to guess, unless it is the most relaxed branch of Top Shop ever.

  5. I think you just solved the mystery. ;)


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx