Sunday, 4 December 2011

4th December - Three Score Years and Ten

It never occurred to me to wear clogs in the snow.  I can't imagine it is particularly warm, but they do look sturdy...Anyway, good morning and welcome to Day 4 of the Blogvent Calendar, and today's splendid picture is Henry John Yeend King's snowy classic, Three Score Years and Ten.

Three Score Years and Ten (1886) Henry John Yeend King
I have also seen this titled 'Christmas Morning', but I think it's a too simplistic title, when the picture is about the feeling of introspection that Christmas can sometimes inspire, the feeling that marks another year gone. 

The title 'Three Score Years and Ten' references the Bible, specifically Psalms, about the length of life. Three score years is sixty (a score being twenty years) and ten gives you seventy years, possibly the age of the woman on the left.  It may also reference Macbeth, when an old man comments that the horrors that have happened have made everything else he has seen in his seventy years seem inconsequential.  It could be a comment on how modern worries inspire nostalgia, as the old woman certainly does seem to have a sorrowful expression, unlike her companion who seems to accompany her with a peaceful face and a red umbrella.

Now, let me move on to the young lady.  At first sight, you'd think she was the old lady's helper, possibly a granddaughter, but how about this:  As the title refers to the lady's age, the younger woman is the old lady in her youth.  Look how similar their body language is, in fact if you scroll so you can only see their feet it's hard to see which woman is which.  It's a time lapse picture: the young woman goes to church in the snow every year until she's seventy, her life lived in that one parish.  As a girl she goes with passion and enthusiasm, symbolised by her red umbrella, which has been worn out by her life.  Sensibly, as an older lady, she's invested in a thick hood, so she can keep her hands inside her cloak.  Clever lady.

Maybe also the picture could be read that the old woman's memories of her youthful self are her companion and give her a little shelter in a cold, bleak world.  Why do I think they are the same woman?  Who is holding the umbrella?  The younger woman or the older woman?  It looks as if it should be the younger woman, but the sleeve of the arm with the brolly is dark teal, the colour of the dress of the old lady, rather than dark red, the dress of the younger one.  The arm is the hint that the two women are one and what we are seeing is a whole life of devotion and experience in a world which is filled with 'hours dreadful and things strange'.  As protection we have our red umbrella, our memories and our spirit to keep us safe.

I wish you all a red umbrella to keep you dry, and a pair of fur lined clogs to keep your feet warm. 
See you tomorrow.

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