Thursday, 11 July 2013

Waiting for you

As a treat this week Mr Walker brought me home the Maas Gallery catalogue to drool over.  He certainly knows how to show a lady a good time.  Whilst flicking and squealing I came across this beauty...

Waiting and Watching Henry Stacy Marks
Something about the blue-green of the gown as she gazes out to sea, the colour of her dress echoing the ocean, seemed so romantic.  The Grey Crowned Cranes give a strange majesty to the image which otherwise would be strongly reminiscent of so many other images of women just waiting and waiting for their lover to return...

Waiting (1854) J E Millais
Possibly the king of all 'waiting' pictures has to be Millais' quiet little picture.  Unprepossessing, but somehow laden with a sort of biding promise, little Annie Miller sits on a stile, apparently as still as the steps, as permanent as the wall.  She may well wait forever, slowly becoming part of the countryside.

Waiting and Watching Robert Fowler
This lady seems to have a more glamorous, classical landscape, warm and draped, with golden tones and pale stone.  If he doesn't arrive, our lady can have a little dip in the pond and then have a snooze in the sunshine.  I don't think she'd be bothered if her erstwhile lover turned up or not.  I may be selling her short, but it doesn't look like life or death to her.

Waiting John McGhie
This one is probably waiting for her man to return from the sea and we all know how well that ends.  I'm not sure about the red of her shirt against the sea, a bit reminiscent of blood for my liking.  I'd like to say that there is no meaning in the empty basket.  Oh dear, she'll be waiting a while, won't she...?

Waiting Jean Beraud
Just to cheer you up, here is another lady, apparently waiting, but if you look to the lamppost up the street, there is a gentleman waiting for her.  I love her tiny little feet and the tiny little flash of colour on the top of her hat.  As she is in black, do we assume she is a widow?  Is she going to meet a man, her new love after bereavement?  As I have been in the sun too long, I wonder if her husband has faked his own death to escape some debt or trouble and so she is going to meet him secretly wearing her fake widow's weaves.  Maybe she has also died and is going to meet her dead husband, who is just up the street, waiting for her.  I need to have a lie down I think...

Waiting for her Escort Cesare Auguste Detti
Moving on to women waiting in the comfort of their own homes, this splendid creature is all swankily dressed and awaiting a fine looking gentleman to take her out.  She looks like an expensively wrapped present, maybe the look she is going for.  She is a decorative doll for her man friend to play with, but you do get an impression that she is no man's passive dolly.  He better be on time or else she will give him hell, I guarantee.

Waiting Ernst Zacharie
Another beautiful woman waits in a stylish interior, but at least this one has a chair for her to sit on.  She is looking at us very directly, is she waiting for us?  She has dropped something, is it a letter?  Is she waiting for an explanation?  Has she been stood up?  So many questions leap out from this sparse composition but shows how many interpretations an be made of the term 'waiting' - who is waiting and for what?

Awaiting an Audience (1886) William Geets
Not all waiting images are vague, some people have a reason to be waiting.  This widow and her young son are awaiting an audience with a man of power, presumably to alleviate her poverty or the suchlike.  Where as our single ladies lounging around in a beautiful room, this woman looks tense and unhappy in her palatial surroundings, while the red guard (possibly guarding a cardinal or some other powerful chap) looks contrasting and nonchalant.   The little boy is the only one who looks positive about their future as he looks towards the room where presumably they will have their meeting with a look of child-like determination.

Waiting to go out James Hayllar
 I include this image because frankly, it scares the pants off me.  The blank-eyed, stout tartan child wants to go out now, take him out.  Go on, I dare you.  Lord knows what will happen if you refuse him.  That's how we lost three nannies before you and they haven't even found the last one.  Moving on...

Waiting for the King's Favourite (1877) Laslett Pott
Now isn't this a lovely image?  A jolly group of gentlemen waiting for a chum to arrive to spring a little surprise on him.  Maybe they have bought him a cake that says 'Congratulations on being the King's Favourite!' and will have a nice slice together like the best of chums.   I have some concerns about the health and safety of greeting your friend with your sword drawn - they out to be careful, someone might get hurt.

Waiting: An English Fireside of 1854-55 (1855) Ford Madox Brown
I finish on this image because like Millais' girl, it shows how, for the Victorians, waiting was a mainly female preoccupation.  It spoke of being the passive one in the relationship, reactive to her lovers beck and call, left hanging while he goes out in the world doing the business of living and dying.  In more than a few of these images of women waiting there is a definite hint that the man has died and they will not know for a while, if at all.  Their future, their lives depend on a man whom they wait for, oblivious to his fate.

By the way, this is my 300th post!  You won't have to wait long for more.  Unlike the doomed Victorian lovers of these poor women, I'll be back at the weekend with a couple of posts.  One is about a painting that the Watts Gallery is trying to save and the other is about how you can come on a pilgrimage.

Worth waiting for...


  1. Congratulations on your third century! Fantastic blog, and not a bum note therin!

  2. Dear Kirsty
    I really like your interpretation of 'Waiting' by Jean Beraud - both she and her husband could be dead and are meeting up; however, this could be due to the fact that I am totally gripped by 'The Returned' on C4, so that dead people coming back seems normal. (Perhaps I have had too much sun as well!) The child in 'Waiting to go out' is extremely creepy; he will grow into a 'Damian', I am sure.
    Congratulations on your 300th post too - here's to the next 300!
    Best wishes

  3. Ooooh see I thought perhaps Beraud's painting showed both the figures waiting. Maybe she's waiting for her widowhood to lighten up (notice that little pink flower that says I'm getting there) Her stalker gentleman is keeping his distance to let her know that he's respectful but doesn't mind gazing at a distance. soon, he thinks, soon. And Brown's painting of the mother waiting and sewing disturbs me only because the baby looks so precarious.... like any minute slipping off that lap and falling onto the floor or even worse - the fire. I wish she would do something to make me feel more at ease.

  4. Thank you everyone for your comments. I'm glad everyone is as intrigued as I am by the Beraud. I'm still convinced that they are dead. Probably.

    Possibly Brown's Mum has velcro-d her child to her knee - safety first....

    Here's to the next 300!


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