Friday, 6 July 2012

The Rain It Raineth…

Well, if you are summering in England, or any of this golden isle, you cannot help but to notice how unrelentingly bobbins the weather has been of late.  We are now in July and I sit here with a hot water bottle clutched to my freezing self, wrapped in a blanket.  We apparently have had three months rain in one day or something like that (which makes me wonder which three months they were thinking of?  The ones just after Noah shut the cargo door on the ark?) and lazy days of hammock swinging and sipping cocktails in the garden do not seem imminent.  I was looking to do a post on images of Summer, but as aspirational as it would be to gaze at Flaming June, I think this would be a little bit more realistic….

The Rain It Raineth Every Day Campbell Taylor
Oh look, it’s still raining…Possibly what I need to get through the season fashionably is a cat and a look of patient acceptance as I sit reading in an off-the-shoulder frock.  Put your shoulders away, no-one is coming to visit, you’ll catch a cold.

The Rain It Raineth Every Day  G F Watts
There is something about showing an interior where someone is trapped.  You wonder what the young lady is watching for, what she is waiting for, what the weather is stopping her doing…Both pictures show women who have abandoned reading, and you wonder if there is a sense of not wanting to escape the weather into a world of imagination, that there is something meaningful waiting for them in real life that they do not want to lose contact with.  Probably a chap, it usually is.

The Rain It Raineth Every Day (1889) Norman Garstin
It was a popular title, taken from Twelfth Night, and hinting at unending misery.  I think Garstin meant it literally, possibly 1889’s summer was as glorious as 2012’s, but the other two have a hint of more.  Maybe the women in the first two pictures have more on their minds than the weather.  Watts doesn’t even show us the  window, there is no sign that it is actually raining, so possibly what imprisons the woman in the house is misery, unending and paralysing.  Blimey, we’ve got a bit heavy all of a sudden.  Hang on…

Sunbeams and Showers Evelyn De Morgan
There we go, if in doubt show some boobs, that usually cheers people up.  Here we have a nice bit of weather personification, the interplay of sun and rain to bring the beauty of the rainbow.  I was once the Sun in a school play.  I got a yellow poncho and everything.

A Wet Sunday Edmund Blair Leighton
Possibly, rather than thinking on nudity and unending misery, I should think about the romance of a brolly.  If you think about it, in the past there were very few legitimate excuses for snuggling up to the opposite sex in public, but bring on a bit of rain and you could share an umbrella.  See how the young lady above has managed to score the company of the hot bloke in cream knee breeches through the power of brolly.  Look how jealous the girls sheltering in the porch of the church look!  Really, gentlemen love a lady with a big brolly.

Love Laughs at Rain (1891) William Small
It looks like I’ve been addressing the rain entirely incorrectly.  Such inclement conditions seem rife with romantic opportunities, including chatting to a man with a calf wrapped in a tarp.  Who can resist a man who wraps his calf in a tarp?  I’m drawn to compare this with Found – if we are supposed to equate the woman with the calf in Found, then maybe what Small is hinting at is that the woman would be taken care of by the Farmer.  If he bothers to wrap his calf up in wet weather, think how well he will treat his wife!  When I open my Pre-Raphaelite On-Line Dating Agency (any day now…) I think I will have that as one of the questions.

Garden of Eden Hugh Riviere
Oh look, this couple are so in love that they haven’t even bothered to put the brolly up.  I’m pleased to see they are both sensibly dressed despite their utter devotion to each other, because as we all know, nothing will kill you quicker than going out without a decent coat on.  I love the fact that the gentleman has turned the cuffs of his trousers up, possibly to keep them out of the mud and puddles.

The Green Umbrella George Kilburne
I need to buy a new brolly, although I have a very fine old one, which I bought from Past Times a long time ago.  It has Monet’s Water Lilies all over it and is very pretty, but such unrelenting rain needs a selection of gorgeous brollies to make it worthwhile.  This lady has a striking green umbrella and she is flashing a rather saucy red underskirt.  It certainly has brightened the day up for the grubby street urchin.

Out in the Rain Maria Brooks
I know she has a young, slightly scary looking baby, but I don’t feel this young woman is really ‘working’ the rain to her advantage.  Black brolly and enormous cloak is not really that attractive, unless you’re planning a bout of shoplifting.  You could get fifteen corsets and a goose under there.  I’d keep an eye on her, she’s obviously up to no good.  I love the fact that she has her left hand out, showing us her wedding ring, just in case we think she’s some unmarried hussy walking the streets.  It does make you wonder why she is ‘Out in the Rain’, because surely it would be counter indicated by Victorian baby-raising books to take your first born out in the rain.  Mind you, it is a lot harder to steal poultry in your own home.

A Summer Afternoon Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher
I suppose I have to keep the faith that the rain will stop eventually and a wonderful rainbow will appear in the sky, like The Blind Girl or the picture above.  It was A Summer Afternoon that got me looking for pictures of summer rain as the colouring reminded me of Holman Hunt, especially things like The Hireling Shepherd, all that green and pink and powerful light.  What surprised me was that A Summer Afternoon was actually painted in 1948.  I suppose the rainbow signifies peace, relief and a chance to start again, and maybe Fletcher used Victorian costume to hint a return to the beginning of the twentieth century, an erasing of the conflict that had marked the years since.

That rather puts my complaining about the weather into perspective.  We’ve only had a couple of months of rain, so I should just put up my brolly and look out for a gentleman in knee breeches...


  1. Kirsty,

    I quite enjoyed your commentary that went along with these wonderful works of art! Thanks for the chuckle.

  2. What fun we are having in our wellies this lovely July,as usual great paintings and amusing writing!

  3. Oh Kirsty, you don't only make me smile but laugh out loud (twice at the above commentary). If you're going to keep us this well entertained as well as seduced by visual images, the rain can continue.

  4. Many thanks chaps, and as I type, it sounds like someone is pouring dried peas all over the conservatory roof, so the rain it still raineth....

  5. A cheering selection of images this time; I'm particularly taken with the calf in a tarp. I think you've made a valid point with that one.

  6. It's what drew me to Mr Walker in the first place, his calf in a tarp. True story. Oh, look, it's raining again.


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