Tuesday 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, Oh Beloved Readers!

Well, here we are, and I hope you're in the mood for romance, because it's Valentine's Day, so you don't get a damn choice.  Look, we're here, we might as well make the best of it, I mean how much time do we get alone? I don't care if you're not in the mood, make an effort.  It's Valentine's Day, so we're getting romantic whether you want it or not.

Sorry, that wasn't very romantic, but my many, many years of no Valentines makes me a little wary of this holiday of romantic obligation, as for the first 23 years of my life no-one felt obliged to send me a Valentine.  Yes, yes, come on, I'm after your pity, but I redefined 'awkward teen' so it was to be expected.  The jumper with all the pigs on it probably didn't help either...

Anyway, enough of my nonsense, on with the point of today's post, which is the Victorian Valentine...

May a gentleman bend you over backwards and cop a feel in the name of love...
I was actually surprised that although images of 'love' abound, images of Valentine's Day are relatively few and far between.  Odd really, because the Victorians loved Valentine's Day, in the same way as they loved any excuse to send a card and make a fuss.

The Valentine (1894) Edwin Harris
This is a charming image, and Edwin Harris is a Newlyn/Birmingham Boy: that lovely west country light, with slate blue and white prominent in the picture.  The young lady reads her card while her friend, who isn't even vaguely jealous, looks on.  God, I can't think of anything worse than having an audience while you open a Valentine.  It's alright if it's from Hot Bob, but what if it's not?  What if it's from the lad who shovels the dung, who has a squint and six toes on one foot and is actually your cousin?  Doesn't bear thinking about...

The Valentine (1863) Thomas Brooks
That's better, like many things in life, it's best done alone.  I rather like the shawl and the pink bonnet, although it's rather overkill for being indoors.  Hopefully her admirer has a home with a fireplace, at least she can take her bonnet off when visiting.

The Valentine's Letter Florent Willems
I found this interesting as I think it's an image of a woman sending a Valentine.  On the other hand, no, she's receiving one from a small servant boy.  Not actually from the small boy, at least I don't think so.  Well, she does look wealthy and he does have his own hat.  She could do worse...

The Valentine George Smith
Ahh, this poor lass deserves her Valentine, look at her.  She has a broom and a cat and even the cat is looking elsewhere.  The best she can hope for is a quiet moment in an alleyway with her Valentine.  I wonder if the cat is symbolic of the girl, gazing at the other cat with the bowl of milk, sat in the sunlight.  I bet that cat doesn't have to sweep out the alleyway. Stupid cat.  I hope her Valentine is from a rich, handsome man who has a clean passage.  I do like a gentleman with a clean passage.

The Eve of St Valentine's (1871) George Smith
Hurrah!  Here are a group of likely girls, writing their love notes the night before Valentine's Day.  Let's hope they are not all writing to the same chap, unless there is a subsequent picture of the three ladies involved in a huge scrap, entitled 'St Valentine's Afternoon'.

Well, on the whole they are a fairly uninspiring group, except this one, which is my absolute favourite...

St Valentine's Morning (1863) John Callcott Horsley
I'm astonished that this young woman can tear her eyes away from the mirror long enough to open a Valentine.  Look at her expression, doesn't she love herself?  Did she send herself the Valentine's card?  How small is her dog?  She's so vain that her mirror is dressed to match her.  Good luck to any man who attempts to compete with her for her attention...

Anyway, my dear Readers, Happy Valentine's Day, and I hope you all get the adoration you deserve.  As you are all marvellous and attractive, I'm sure you did.  If not, they most likely delayed in the post.  Stupid post, they held up 23 years worth of mine, you know.  Shocking...


  1. Love this Valentines Day post. Great images and being here in Cornwall liked the Edwin harris painting very much

  2. Love the Horsley - not seen that before.

  3. Happy Valentine's Day! I'm happy as a clam (Are clams happy?) I got a lovely bunch of flowers (a rare occurance). Edwin Harris can paint me arranging it.
    Or Whistler - I love Whistler!

  4. Mr Harris was nice and gentile, his work was rather peaceful. Horsley caught me lovely ;) I had a fabulous Valentine's Day, and I did manage to tear myself away from the mirror long enough to open my card...


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