Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hurrah, it is my birthday! I get to be 40 next year, which is bracing, but I am currently revelling in my 'not-40' status, and have had a splendid day of Pre-Raphaelite fun over at Kelmscott Manor.  More of that later, but today I want to talk about birthdays.  Because it is my birthday, precious.

Grandmother's Birthday (1867) Joseph Dyckmans
Okay, so I'm not feeling touchy about my age, but this is my first image of lovely Victorian birthday-ness. A tiny girl presents her grandmother with a lovely basket of fruit.  Look how delighted granny looks.  She looks absolutely thrilled.  She's not at all thinking 'Fruit?! Where's my Cinzano? Last member of the family who disappointed me, I stuff and mounted them on the little stool as a warning to the others...'  Mind you, she can't be too harsh with the little moppet as she only seems to have one leg.  Maybe she sold the other to buy the fruit.  Ahhh, Victorian times were hard, just look at Grandma: she's only 26.

Many Happy Returns of the Day (1856) William Powell Frith
Oh, this is more like it.  Right in the middle, bathed in light, is the birthday girl.  She has her own little halo of flowers and leaves and stuff, just in case you were in any doubt of how special the birthday girl is.  Mind you, Daddy isn't looking very attentive, he's more interested in what Grandpa is doing.  Grandpa is so engrossed in the party, he is now reading the paper.  All the women are having a whale of a time, but then they are up the end of the table with the iced gems.

Baby's Birthday (1867) Frederick Hardy
I wonder if baby's birthdays were somewhat more meaningful back then because each year was a gift in itself.  Here we have baby's first birthday, with a family party, attended by everyone, including the cat.  The activities of the day have been put aside, just so they can pause for a moment to watch the youngest member of the family look bewildered at a flame.  At the door is Grandma and Grandpa, which implies that cat will have to move so someone can sit down as there is already more people than chairs.  I wonder at the fuss that is being made of the baby, as he or she is obviously not the only child in the family, but they are the youngest and possibly the last.  Maybe there is a hint that this is the last time they will be celebrating a first birthday until the kids start having kids.  If they all live, it shouldn't be long.

The Birthday Picnic Arthur Hughes
For my birthday, I have spent the day being all Pre-Raphaelite, which has been enormous fun.  We went off to Kelmscott and then went to Buscot Park to see the Burne-Jones mural.  It was all very sensible and couth, much like the family picnic above.  If only I'd worn my yellow dress, it would have been a perfect match.  I'm guessing it's Yellow's birthday as she's in the centre and your eye is drawn to her.  I knew I should have worn my yellow dress...

Herod's Birthday Feast (1868) Edward Armitage
Actually, stuff the yellow frock, I should have held a feast/orgy, as you can't go wrong with a load of grapes and some dancing maidens dressed in seven veils.  I do like grapes...

Anyway, I will return at the weekend with a report on my day out with Ned and Topsy.  Now where did I leave my veils...?

9 comments:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIRSTY! Many happy returns, and how we all love to return to your blog (tho' I've lately been unfaithful, fickle me, and got sucked into Joss Wheedon's world of vampires. I'm a sucker for the cheekbones). Glad you had such a suitable "Jolly-Oh" & looking forward to more pix.

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  2. Thank you, what better way to spend the day than running away to Pre-Raphaelite Land ?

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  3. Happy Birthday for yesterday! The Frith painting got me thinking - what is the father thinking about? His mind is obviously elsewhere and I'm not sure he is just irritated at grandpa's lack of interest. Could it be some big gambling debt that is going to be their ruin shortly, or does he have a mistress and secret family living round the corner? I did a check on wikipedia and actually that second guess was right! He lived with his wife and 12 children while a mile down the road he kept a mistress and seven more children! Wikipedia describe it as a "curious domestic life"...

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  4. Just did a bit more "research" on Frith (being naturally curious about his domestic life) and came across this interesting article:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/mar/26/artnews.art

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  5. Yes! I read that about Frith in Jeremy Paxman's book. Yes, Dad in the picture is definately thinking 'Now, where did I tell the other woman I was this week..?' Naughty Frith!

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  6. Happy Birthday to a real stunner :) You deserve the best Pre-Raphaelite Birthday ever!

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  7. Very funny, well deserving of a literal lol.

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