Thursday, 8 December 2011

8th December – Under the Mistletoe

Yes, my mistletoe obsession continues. I now have some hung above my doorway at home, so I have promised not to force Lily-Rose into the tree outside with a sickle (actually the bacon scissors, we don’t own a sickle). Today’s picture is extra Christmas-y: I bring you Under the Mistletoe by John Callcott Horsley…

Under the Mistletoe John Callcott Horsley
I can’t decide about this picture. At first glance it appears to be a brother and sister sat by a fire playing on a chilly Christmas-y day. They appear to be in quite sombre seventeenth century dress (I’m a little doubtful of that too, but the shoes look decidedly cavalier). However, the way the little boy is viewing the little girl is a bit odd. I think he has been drawing her in chalk on the slate, but he is decidedly lost in thought now as he watches his companion kiss her doll under the mistletoe.

...aspiring model
Budding artist, gazing at...










Red, red, red...
Right, let’s rescue it from the pit of weirdness I have just dug. My narration for the picture is as follows. I think they are both Civil War orphans, hence the black, but are not related (just clear that particular weirdness up now). There seems to be a number of highlights of red in the picture: the bows on his shoes, the cradle, her cap and the tiny red pin-pricks of the holly berries behind the boy. I think these speak of the blood shed of the Civil War, but I might be carried away with it all. Anyway, I think it is a prefigure of their later life, that the boy will marry his companion, hinted at the romance of the mistletoe. 

Now, isn’t that lovely?

What makes today’s Blogvent door extra Christmas-y is that John Callcott Horsley designed the first Christmas Card in 1843.


Linking back to yesterday’s picture, we have the very Victorian concerns of helping the poor and needy and getting bladdered on sherry. I particularly like the child in the middle. Apparently, you can’t start them too young…

Oh, and I did promise to tell you about The Holly and the Ivy. The story goes (probably apocryphal, but fun none the less) that Henry VIII wrote the song and it is entirely filthy. I didn’t believe it until I started to sing it and by the time I reached ‘the playing on the merry organ’ I was giggling like a school girl.

See you tomorrow!


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