Anyway, my lovely readers, here we are, almost at the end of Blogvent, and today's picture is a marvellous, heartwarming picture of brotherly love, very suitable for this time of year...
|Friends in Adversity (1880) John Charles Dollman|
Mr Dollman has obviously gone to town in painting fellows of all nations and ages: old, young, black, white, all shades in between and a blind chap with a big ginger beard, everyone is accounted for. Now, far be it from me to say I wouldn't mind being led down stairs by the rather handsome gentleman in Turkish or Arabian get-up, he has a fine pair of harem pants. The clothes of the sailors are gorgeously realised, and there is a repeated tone of green-blue, sea-blue, from the Turkish gentleman's hose and top, via the man with his arm in a sling and up the stairs, picked out in the plaque showing a cross and anchor above a heart. The united themes of 'Faith, Hope and Charity', as symbolised by the plaque, bind the sailors to each other, and they all are together under the banner which reads 'After so many ship wrecks we find a port!' So many of the men are injured, blind, lame and uncommonly handsome, that the only place they can find the certainty of help and comfort is with their own kind. For a Victorian message, it's a paradox to explain. The nineteenth century was hardly the well-spring of brotherhood for all nations, and to me it seems a sizable chunk of time was spent in pinching bits of land and being somewhat bossy in other people's country. This painting, which isn't altogether overtly metaphoric, seems to show that it is possible to forget the concerns of nation for a moment and find a common cause among people who have served a similar life to you. Most of these people would not have spoken the same language but they understand that their situation is the same, so there is no conflict. It would be interesting to know how many sailors of different countries did use the Dreadnaught Hospital, how realistic this depiction is, because although it is an inspiring symbol of brotherhood, it also may have had a grain of truth behind it.
Far be it from me to be suggestive, but am I the only one who noticed that the boy with the fiddle is holding mistletoe? I'm sure it's a symbol of the love between nations, the aspiration that one day we all may realise the truth that we are all 'in the same boat', so we should put our petty differences behind us and join arms to go down to metaphoric Christmas dinner. I certainly would never be so tacky as to suggest that my first thought was 'Father Christmas obviously go the old chap with the stick's letter, then...'
Shame on me, I'll make the Baby Jesus cry with my sauciness.
See you tomorrow.