Monday, 7 December 2015

Monday 7th December - A Winter's Dream

Monday again and we are a week into Mufvent already!  Goodness me, doesn't time fly when you are larking about with Victorian art?  Anyway, on with the merriment...

A Winter's Dream Norman Prescott Davies
Today's muff is part of a nice matching set that includes a cape and a hood with a pompom.  Very nice too.  Norman Prescott Davies is one of those artists who just bubbles under the Pre-Raphaelite radar; much of his work is classical, in the mood of Godward, but there are moments that fit the Pre-Raph bill, like this one...

As Time Goes By (1893)
Born in 1862, in Middlesex, Davies studied in the Royal College of Art, Guilds Art School and Heatherley's, before working as a miniature, figure painter and portraitist in London. He began to exhibit at 18, in 1880, while living at home, then moving to stay with his uncle.  His family was affluent, his father was a solicitor and his maternal grandfather was Colonel Henry Barkley Henderson, author and artist.  He lived in fashionable Charlcot Gardens during the 1880s, along with other artists such as Jessie Macgregor and Sidney P Hall. 

An Eastern Beauty
In 1880 he became a member of the Royal Academy but quit in 1893 despite continuing to exhibit elsewhere into the 20th century.  He married in 1887 and his daughter Daphne, who grew up to be an actress, was born in 1892.  It seems the bulk of his money came from the trade in 'keepsake beauties'.  I'm glad I found this term because it perfectly sums up the very commercial female figures, popular at the end of the nineteenth century and available as engravings and then postcards. In the few pages I can find on Davies there seems to be a feeling that the artist exploited the market to the expense of his art, becoming just a manufacturer in pretty faces.  There is a soft, pastel blandness to some of his works, all unthreatening and innocent.  Compared with some of the Oriental pieces we have seen, An Eastern Beauty looks like she could be off to a WI coffee morning rather than a sun-soaked bazaar.  I was reminded somewhat of E R Hughes, subject of the great retrospective at Birmingham at present, not because I think the quality of their art is the same but because I only knew Davies because of a greetings card...

Love's Whispers (1896)
Maybe in the future Norman Prescott Davies will be rediscovered and his work brought together.  Until then we can only admire his soft-focus pastel beauties individually.  A Winter's Dream has a bit more depth to it in terms of colour, the darkening winter's day highlighting the golden glow of the young woman.  I'd like to see more of Davies' work, especially if they were as pleasant as this.

My gift for today is something that will keep giving for the whole year...

 By joining the Pre-Raphaelite Society here you can enjoy the journal three times a year, packed with fascinating articles and essays, book reviews and information.  You also get the US Review which tells you what is going on Pre-Raphaelite-wise in America. There are regional groups that meet up for book clubs, and the chance to attend talks and tours to do with art and artists, all of which are splendid.  I joined many, many years ago and have met some great people who have offered so much support.  I can't recommend it enough.

See you tomorrow (for which you might like to have a stiff drink and a sit down)....


  1. Hi Kirsty,
    I didn't konw this Victorian painter yet, and I'm feeling charmed by his art, I heartily thank you for sharing, thus having given me the chance to know him !
    Have a wonderful new week

  2. I love all those girls because I think they look a little like me! :P


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