Monday, 12 December 2011

12th December - Preparing for Christmas

I really need to do my Christmas cards, it's rather shocking. I always think that I'll be all prepared, then all of a sudden we're hurtling through December and I've not achieved a damn thing.  Well, I took some sparkly pictures of Lily to stick in the cards of relatives and close friends and I think I may have bought some cards a while ago...oh heavens, so much to fit in.  Do you think it has always been this way?  Did the Victorians feel this stressed?  Did young ladies have to secrete small bottles of gin in their muffs to cope with the pressure?  Looking at this beautiful image, I wonder...

Preparing for Christmas George Goodwin Kilburne
In her gorgeous pink pin-striped dress, a young woman hangs some holly on a mirror.  Something or someone has caught her attention and she is distracted from her task.  At first I wondered if someone was saying 'up a bit, left a bit...' to her, but looking at her face, she appears to be gazing dreamily at someone.  She is definitely dewy-eyed in her distraction, and I'm surprised it isn't mistletoe she's hanging.  Maybe she's spotted someone under the mistletoe she fancies kissing.  Quick, shove the holly on the mirror and get over there!

Yuletide George Goodwin Kilburne
Kilburne was a bit of a Christmas powerhouse, and he illustrated many Christmas cards.  His pastel-pretty images made sweetly sentimental cards, exactly in tune with the Victorian sensibility.  I find his images share themes and imagery with Pre-Raphaelite art:  Look at the young woman hanging her holly.  I find many similarities between her and Rossetti lovelies.  Her palette is paler but the feeling is the same.  The two women decorating the suit of armour make me think of Millais maidens and Keats poetry.  Although Kilburne's art seems a little cliched, I suspect it is because his imagery and style are often copied in the archetypal Christmas cards we all know today.

So, possibly I should start hanging the holly and my worries will drift away as I spy my handsome husband under the mistletoe.  Hmmm, well, I can't say Kilburne's young lady looks without care, she looks a little distracted.  Maybe she is also worrying about posting dates and whether or not she's remembered to buy for all the cousins' children, has she forgotten anyone?  Does she have enough chestnuts?  Oh, heavens, do I have enough chestnuts?  I better check...

See you tomorrow.


  1. These are superb paintings and I wonder why I've never heard of the artist! One of the wonderful things about art is trying to guess what the wider story is. I think she looks slightly worried. Perhaps, she's distracted by the fact that her favourite has just arrived and is being detained in animated conversation by her pretty younger sister. Who knows!

  2. I do love her expression. I think it's a combination of her lovely young man arriving, and she's trying to remember if she left her iron on.


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