Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Kiss Me, I’m a Year Old!

A year ago on this very day I published my first blog. Wowser and Blimey, to say the least, but in that year I have covered many diverse and important subjects (honestly, I have) and spoken about my helplessness in the face of handsome gentlemen in tights and how I probably would forgive Rossetti anything, despite the fact he patently doesn’t deserve it. I also got to use the word ‘Fanny’ over and over again and no-one thought I was being filthy. Well, a few people didn’t think I was being filthy. Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to have a bit of a look back, and it’s an excuse for me to show you my favourite pictures from the last 12 months, plus a brand new one…

Starting with the very first picture from my very first post, O What’s That in the Hollow by Edward Hughes…

I have this directly in front of my desk at work as it is such a beautiful image. I still need to do a post on images on dead men as they tend to do their dying 'off-screen' as it were, hence the proliferation of ‘widow’ images. Also, it’s interesting to consider the number of images of women popping their clogs in a wide variety of ways. This image holds a sort of male ‘sleeping beauty’ allure for me, but I am mostly told it’s revolting and depressing by people who see it at work. I’m not sure what that says about me…

Moving on to May, I talked to you about The Ruralists, who are marvellous and much beloved, making an exhibition of myself in Sweden, the lovely George Boyce, Annie Miller, Alexa, and what makes a picture a portrait (and vice versa). My favourite picture from this month is probably Robins of Modern Times (1857) by J R S Stanhope.

This is a great picture to discuss as it is beautiful and controversial in equal measure. I think this might have been the start of my continuing fascination over the last year with Victorian images of children. It really is a thorny subject and one that seems particularly difficult in regards to that era. After all, we don’t seem to hold earlier images of children in such suspicion. We don’t say ‘those Tudors, they were all child molesters!’, yet possibly due to the proliferation of images of all kinds, the amount and variety of pictures of children cause us no end of eyebrow-raising and lip-chewing. I don’t pretend to know the answer, but I love discussing it with you lot, you make such interesting points.
June saw us talk about Rossetti, Alexa (again), Paxton, Scythes, Mermaids, Ellen Smith and the Endymion Tennyson illustrations by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale. I especially enjoyed looking at the symbol of scythes and found this gorgeous picture…

The Garden of Adonis (1887) J D Batten
I think one of the main things I love about writing this blog is seeking out the wide range of pictures on different subjects, and also writing about any beautiful pictures I see. This was in a marvellous exhibition catalogue called Love and Death: Art in the Age of Queen Victoria, which I thoroughly recommend as it is an amazing collection of pictures. Sadly for me, the exhibition was in Australia and I wasn’t able to pop in, so have to make do with the catalogue instead!

July saw three recipes in my ‘art and food' week, pictures to do with letters and sleep (which is the most popular post I’ve written, for reasons I can’t fathom), plus a week of historic paintings and a potter about in Arthurian art. The post about sleeping has been viewed over a thousand times, which is amazing, and contains my picture of the month…

Under the Patchwork Quilt William Peter Watson
I adore this image, it’s so peaceful and such a gorgeous pastel in tone. I also love the fact that she is sneakily peeking out from under her lashes. Too right, you should never take your eye off the artist, you never know what they are up to.

In the height of summer, August contained posts on Pygmalion, Maids, whether Fanny Cornforth was illiterate, Cavaliers, Thomas Cooper Gotch and images of reading. My image for this month has to be Fanny’s handwriting as it is a symbol of what I try and do which is try and find the truth.

I was touched by the response I’ve had after my recent post on Annie Miller, as like Fanny, she too has suffered from an attack of reputation. I can only hope that any forthcoming books that mention Fanny will not call her an illiterate fat harpy. The next person to mention nuts will be taken outside…

On to the autumn, and in September we looked at Seamstresses, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Compton and Watts, Hot Fred Stephens, Evelyn de Morgan, Burne-Jones and Fanny, drinking, and getting illustrations for Stunner (which on occasions led to drinking). I must admit that I adored writing about La Belle Dame Sans Merci as it has the most romantic works of art inspired by it, for example…

La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1902) Frank Dicksee
Oh, swoon and double swoon, I need a horse, a big frock and a chap in armour immediately.

I am sorry that in October I introduced the phrase ‘Lie back and think of cathedrals…’ into conversation, but it was possibly the first time I began to think of Ruskin in anything approaching sympathetic terms. Despite my feelings of sadness surrounding Desperate Romantics, I adored Tom Hollander in it (goodness, I adore him in most anything, but that’s my problem) and felt he did a good job in showing John Ruskin as a human being, albeit a weird one. I look forward to Greg Wise’s interpretation of him in the upcoming Effie film, and hope to be able to wear my ‘Hot Ruskin!’ t-shirt when I see the film. Anyway, I wasn’t just obsessed by Ruskin this month, I also talked about Salome, Milkmaids, Byam Shaw, Twins, Utter Misery, and Mirrors. My image for the month comes from the last post…

Nude Before a Mirror Henri Caro-Delvaille
…due to the fact that she has such a nice bottom. However, I received some very interesting correspondence following the Milkmaids post and now I know much more about the gentlemen who read my blog. Ladies, if you are seeking a man, can I suggest a bucket and a three-legged stool? You wouldn’t believe how popular that look is. Trust me.

In November, Miss Holman and I went on our foot-punishing tour of London, and I talked to you about Simeon Solomon, Etty, Ford Madox Brown and Secrets, hence my pick for this month…

The Confession John Collier
I loved the confessions post as there are some corking pictures of people spilling the beans. The Victorians feared a secret, hence poor Lady Audley, as it never seemed to be a good thing you were keeping back. No doubt you were mad, or not married, or cheating, or French. Goodness, the horror! What will the neighbours think?

I don’t know what possessed me, but in December we had a Blogvent which seemed like such a good idea but was utter madness. Naturally I’ll be doing it again this year as I haven’t learnt my lesson and I get to say ‘muff’ over and over and no-one thinks I’m being filthy. Sadly, there are no images of Fanny Cornforth in a muff or I think I’d be on telly by now.  Doing Blogvent meant I found some gorgeous pictures I’d never seen before, including…
At the First Touch of Winter, Summer Fades Away (1897) Val Prinsep
I think this was the inspiration to talk about images of older women, which happened in January. The New Year was a funny one as I talked about little girls and Old Women, which was a bit of a contrast. January also saw a three day exhibition of Fanny’s pictures from the Rossetti Gallery, based on her catalogue, which was personally one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done. I also talked about Fairies and your friend and mine, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (now officially recognised rhyming slang). After the very interesting discussion that resulted from the Older Women post, my image has to be Astarte Syriaca as Jane Morris is the same age as me in it…

Astarte Syriaca (1877-8) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
In February I talked about Alexa (yet again), May Cooksey, Fortune Tellers, Valentines and my favourite books about Victorian fictional artists. I loved hearing from the descendant of one of Cooksey’s models; one of the joys of the blog is hearing from people’s relatives, so hello to members of Fred Stephen’s family and Charlie Howell’s family too! The image has to be the beautiful Cooksey, so ethereal and pure…

Maria Virgo (1914) May Louise Cooksey
Last month saw the arrival of a tiddy cheque thanks to Lila, and posts on Joanna Boyce, The Souls, weddings, motherhood and William Morris. Possibly the most beautiful image I have seen for a long time appeared in my post about Maxwell Armfield…

Music in New York, Homage to Johann Sebastian Bach (1946) Maxwell Armfield
This month has been my birthday, yet more roadtrips, widows and beautiful dresses, not to mention endless fretting about Stunner. Here we are, a year later, and I’ve made some very special friends, received amazing support from our little on-line community and would like each and every one of you to know how much I love hearing from you, how much I appreciate the time you take to read my nonsense and I am endlessly amazed by how lovely you lot are. My final image in this retrospective is perversely a new one, and I wanted you to see it ahead of time, as it were.

The cover of the new edition of Stunner: The Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth
Because of your support, your comments and messages, this blog, not to mention the new edition of Stunner, are possible.  Thank you.  I can only hope the next twelve months will be as much naughty fun as the last twelve have been.


  1. I hope so too - you should be proud of a fantastic blog, always interesting and more rarely in most blogs - fun!

  2. Happy Blogiversary! You are a source of the most amazing images.

  3. Thank you both. I'm glad you enjoy the blog, I certainly love writing it!

  4. I think your blog is my favorite out of the many I visit daily. Each post leaves me having thought about something that would never have crossed my mind, and I deeply enjoy becoming more familiar with some amazing artists.

    I think "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" may have been my favorite post, though I enjoyed the post on mirrors (Much food for thought) and the harp-playing image by Maxwell Armfield (as a harpist.)

    I love the new cover.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your erudition and wit with us over and over.

  5. Congratulations, Kirsty, on reaching one! You have entertained and inspired us for a whole year, and long may it continue! And that cover looks ... just stunning!

  6. Happy blog birthday ,I love your witty and informative style . I think you are very amusing and quite naughty!!!

  7. My dears, thank you, I couldn't do any of this without your support and contribution. Really, I'm not that naughty... ;)

  8. Thank you! I've been reading your blog ever since someone posted it on facebook last year. The first night I spent hours going through old posts. Your writing is always educational and funny!

  9. Yes, Happy Birthday to Kirsty's fabulous blog, also my favourite of all the ones I've seen. Great to see the cover of Stunner 2. Do try and get on Woman's Hour R4, a feature about Fanny would be perfect. Also maybe a book signing in Barnstaple ... or if not Exeter ... you're Wiltshire way I think so not so far? Here's to the next enjoyable year!


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