Thursday, 25 April 2013

Kiss Me! I'm Two!

If this blog were a baby, I would now be reaching that unruly age because today The Kissed Mouth is two years old!  Another excuse for cake (even though I am still working my way through my birthday cake.  For anyone who missed it, I made Sidonia Von Cake...)

Nom nom nom....
Anyway, like a sitcom, I would like to take the opportunity to give you a clip show of the last twelve months to see what we've got up to...

May last year was filled with May Queens, the Mural at Carrow Abbey (which was the first of our art mysteries from 2012) and hints of summer.  I'm guessing that the weather was far better than it's been of late, although we seem to have fallen over and found Spring all of a sudden which is most disconcerting.  We explored the two versions of Dante's Dream by Rossetti and the pointless yet magical portrayal of music in paintings.  I think my two favourite posts from the month were the images of scary looking dogs in 'The Pugs of Doom' (who can forget John Franks and his soulless poodle?) and images of Temptation.  My image of the month was a toss up between the hilarious and beautiful The Temptation of  Sir Percival by Arthur Hacker and this, lesser known wonder by Thomas Kennington...

Temptation Thomas Kennington
One of the pleasures of writing for you is the chance to explore less well known artists like Kennington who produced the most amazing, deep pictures with ambiguous meaning and plenty to be read into them.  I still love her red fan.

June brought the Diamond Jubilee, a visit to the Harry Potter Experience and two art mysteries.  I wrote a piece on images of ladies combing their hair and I launched Stunner, finally.  Obviously my image of the month has to be the fabulous celebrity endorsement I received....

Thank you Raine....
Another brilliant aspect of writing The Kissed Mouth and Stunner has been becoming friends with all you talented and marvellous people who I would never get to meet in real life.  I mean really, fancy receiving this for your birthday...

Raine, you are amazing.

Trotting on to July, I shamelessly floated around in the municipal paddling pool for my Stunner competition.  I talked about the rain which was obviously falling in large amounts and Rossetti's favourite colours.  I also began to worry about the contents of the Tate exhibition and had a look at what was in the 1951 Pre-Raphaelite exhibition held at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery.  My seasonal, rather lovely image for the month must be this one...

A Summer Afternoon (1948) Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher
Possibly this marked the beginning of our discussions on the mid-twentieth century response to the Victorians  and the Pre-Raphaelites in particular.  I hope to continue looking into this in the future as I find it interesting who kept the faith through the years when our beloved Brotherhood were particular unfashionable.

August brought us Stunners and Artists in the shape of Marie Spartali Stillman and Emma Watkins (stunners) and James Collinson and Walter Denby Sadler (artists).  It was also a Burne-Jones kind of month with two posts about him, one on mermaids and one about how dangerous it is to like dear Ned.  To balance all this scandalous, morals-wrecking malarky, I did a nice post about drinking tea...

Five O'Clock Tea David Comba Adamson

Big sleeves ahoy!

Into the autumn, and September brought a few posts of a controversial nature.  In light of the imminent publication of Jane Morris' letters, I began to reassess my feelings towards my least favourite stunner.  It was also the first International Pre-Raphaelite Day, for which I wrote an A, B, C and also held a long weekend of love, which covered romance, dalliance and picking a wrong 'un.  Possibly the biggest thing to happen that month was the opening of the Tate's exhibition (which was wonderful, but then a giant shed of those pictures was always going to be brilliant) (the shop was still rubbish though).  Again, I came over all controversial and we discussed the notion of 'fat' in Pre-Raphaelite art history linking Fanny Cornforth to Lady Gaga for the first and probably last time.  The image of the month has to be one of the most romantic pictures in existence...

Meeting on the Turret Stair Frederick William Burton
Oh, lovely.  Splendid stuff.  I do love a good wallow in medieval romantic stuff, I'll pretend I don't know the rest of the story and how everyone dies.  Moving on.

October saw me give a talk on Fanny Cornforth and thank you to everyone for coming!  It was a real pleasure meeting people who read this or else I would suspect I was faffing about on my own.  I got to talk about illegitimate children and Love & Death this month, not to mention Gypsies and my wish to run away in a caravan which garnered almost as much revealing mail as my post on Milk Maids.  Again, I wish to state for the record I do not own a three legged stool or a peasant blouse.  Settle down.  I'd like to add that sadly I don't own a be-ribboned tambourine or a big swirly skirt but I'm working on that.  I also met Jan Marsh this month and she's lovely.  The image of the month has to be of Hoylandswaine Church and I hope to go up this year to see how they are getting on with their restoration work...

How it looked before the emulsion and how it shall look once more.   Only in colour.
November saw me swan off over to Paris and buy the most lovely necklace based on the brooch from The Blue Bower from the Musee D'Orsay.  I also looked at presents for the Pre-Raphaelite fan in your life, including a very nice image of Alexa Wilding that was for sale at The Maas Gallery.  I looked at the Victorians and War and asked everyone to join the marvellous Pre-Raphaelite Society.  I also launched my page on Facebook, 'The Stunner's Boudoir'.  Please come and find me in the Boudoir, I share bits of Pre-Raphaelite gossip there on a daily basis.  Possibly the most serious subject I got to write about last year has to be beards.  It's a matter of great import...

Never trust a man, or woman, without a beard...
December saw me perpetrate the madness that is Blogvent for the second year running.  I don't know what I was thinking, but it is a bit of a giggle.  I think I may well have used up all the Victorian images of Christmas that aren't just cute children in the snow, so I'll have to think of something else to do this year... My image for December has to be my Christmas Eve picture...

The Poor Actress's Christmas Dinner (1860) Robert Braithwaite Martineau
Looking at the image again, I wonder if Ruth Herbert posed for this?

2013 started in a less than jolly manner with the Massacre of the Innocents, but got better with a visit to Mells on the path of the tragic Souls.  I also expressed my love of Thomas Hardy and my continuing obsession with Edward Burne-Jones' The Golden Stairs.  We looked at Rossetti's love of 'The Raven' and we looked at the only stunner to have written a cook book, Ruth Herbert.  Possibly Martineau's picture is of her and this is a forerunner to a celebrity cookery programme.  She's like the Nigella of the 1860s.  Or something.  Anyway, the most fun I had in the frosty month of January was with the subject of the Prodigal Son, or in this case Daughter...

The Prodigal Daughter (1903) John Collier
'I'm off to despoil some young gentlemen, I've got my key so don't wait up.'

February saw us having a look at Circe the naughty temptress, and the dangers of letting the media misquote you.  We had a swoony time with Chatterton, and had a lovely romp through the romantic art of the other Leighton.  I went to see Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale at the Watts (it's still on, but not for much longer so see it while you can!) and I looked into the life of Grace Knewstub.  I wrote my first, but no doubt not my last, defense of Ruskin.  Poor old Ruskin, he's in for a right old time of it this year, what with the new film coming out.  I still hope that he will be presented as a rounded character, not just some weird old bloke who wouldn't sleep with his wife.  I think my slogan for 2013 should be

Do it for Ruskin, 
He'd do it for you! 
(But not to you, obviously)

My image for February is definitely one of romance, having fallen in love with the art of Henry John Stock, especially this picture...

The Kiss (1894) Henry John Stock
March saw the arrival of Fanny the Wombat with whom I celebrate Wombat Friday every Friday on Facebook and Twitter (#WombatFriday).  All you need to join in is a cuddly wombat, some cake and an art book, then post a picture of all three together.  It's a delightful way to connect with equally mad people all over the world and is no doubt contributing towards world peace.  Or something.  Anyway, I also indulged in a little eavesdropping, found a gorgeous obituary of Burne-Jones, went to Standen and celebrated the weirdness of Victorian Easter cards.  March also saw the publication of  Robert Parry's latest novel Wildish which I reviewed here.  My image of the month has to be a lovely Victorian image of Jacobean royalty...

Bonnie Prince Charlie John Pettie
I have to thank Robert for sending me the copy of Wildish to review and also for being one of the first people to follow my blog two years ago.  I am lucky enough to have him and my other blog-writing Pre-Raphaelite chums to encourage me and embroil me in all kinds of Victorian artistic shenanigans, for which I am truly grateful.  On that note I would like to wish a speedy recover to Philip Brown who runs the Pre-Raphaelite Art blog and posts such lovely images on a daily basis.  We miss you Philip, get well soon!

So this month I have enjoyed the company of The Framp, knitted William Morris, pre-ordered Deborah Rose's album and rediscovered my love for the Edwardian Lady. And eaten far too much cake, but it was worth it.

If I had to pick one image that summed up my year, it would have to be this...

A huge thank you to everyone who made the second edition of Stunner  possible, and for those who have been kind enough to leave reviews on Amazon and the suchlike.  You are the wind beneath my wings and other such cliche-ridden phrases, but I mean it.  Without you lot reading this I'd just be a crazy woman, chuntering on about Victorian art to herself, and that sort of thing gets you locked up, or at least backed away from in the supermarket.  Trust me, I've been there.

Anyhow, here's to another year of posts.  No doubt Miss Holman (resting director, closet assassin, editor-for-hire) and I will go grave hunting once more, I will search out more places of a Pre-Raphaelite nature and Mr Walker will bring more brilliant stuff to my attention.  I also will work my little fingers to the bone to bring you my novel which involves Pre-Raphaelites and all manner of backstage goings-on, so my image for the next year has to be the star of my new venture...

Regina Cordium (1866) D G Rossetti
Thank you, dear readers for your company and shall we get on with the third year?


  1. Happy birthday/anniversary! May your blog have many more :)

  2. Thank you Alison, help yourself to virtual cake :)

  3. Thank you, Kirsty, for all you wonderful posts. They lift our spirits and make us smile - and we always learn something new.

  4. Well, risking the chance that this turns into a love-in, thank you, and everyone who has followed me over the last two years. I promise not to lead you astray. Well, not much.

  5. Great year full of lovely paintings, cake, wombats and your special humor. Thank you very much for an enjoyable time. (Must send you cake in the mail.)

  6. A very Merry Blog Birthday to you Kirstie, as Nancy says,'paintings, cakes and wombats', what more could we ask!

  7. Thank you my Darlings, it's nice to know that such lovely people are with me :)

  8. HOLY CATS... and you're a Harry Potter fan TOO?!?!?! Just for that, I'm inviting you to my blog to join the PARTY BUNKER I'm building in order not to see or hear any spoilers from the new season of BBC's "Sherlock" (because I can't stand to watch it on PBS where they edit and cut stuff out, so I have to wait for the entire season to come out on DVD....). Come over to my blog, help me choose a bunker design, and sign up to bring delicious drinks and noms!!! That cake would be a definitely great addition to the festivities! COME ONE COME ALL!!!

  9. Such a lovely read. Very fascinating, as ever. And it makes me sad at what I've missed, and gladder than ever that I'm here now. Thanks for transforming me into a Preraphaelite nerd, Miss Kirsty. I owe you a lot. Happy anniversary, thanks for all the work you do. Up with wombats!
    PS, Raine IS absolutely incredible, isn't she!?

  10. PPS, I am stoked about your upcoming book! (you can tell I really am excited because I used slang. Drug related, dated slang, no less.)

  11. Thank you everyone for the fun, and yes, Raine is the best. I too am stoked about the book and I hope to bring it to you this year. Well, that's the plan. Sort of.

    Cake all round!!

  12. I've ordered your book, and await its arrival with much anticipation! Not only that, I've plugged this page unashamedly on my FB page, so if there are strong vibrations from your electronic device when you log on, it's a whole raft of bods enjoying your wisdom and wit. With much affection, for many hours of delight!

  13. Well Robert, it's a pleasure to have you aboard. I hope you enjoy the book :)


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