Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Wishes from The Kissed Mouth!

Hello Chums!  I hope you are having a jolly Easter weekend with plenty of sunshine, chocolate and egg-related jollity all round. I spent yesterday with my lovely cousin-in-laws and families, and tomorrow we are off to Grampy's for church and lunch, for which I have to cook a chocolate bread and butter pudding.  Anyway, I digress, I am here to talk about Easter and our dear friends, the Victorians...

I'm guessing that for our nineteenth century ancestors, Easter was actually a bigger deal than it is for us.  I've noticed over the last few years that the shops are pushing more and more 'things' to help you celebrate the double Bank Holiday weekend, and much like Christmas the origins are somewhat sidelined in favour of commercialism and fluffy chicks. Gosh, the Victorians would have loved that.  Apparently by the turn of the Twentieth century, chicks were allowed to drive cars.  I'm not sure that's very safe to be honest, look at the difficulties the driver is having controlling the wheel.  A cautionary tale for us all, I feel.  Wait until your chicken is full grown before allowing him or her to operate machinery please.

The Morning of the Resurrection (1886) Edward Burne-Jones
Obviously, for the Victorians the religious message was far more welcome and necessary than we are comfortable with now.  Easter, as my father always tells me, was of course the biggest religious festival of the Christian year, being that it actually marked the moment that Jesus spectacularly gatecrashed breakfast.  Good work, that man/spirit/son of God!  Burne-Jones' rather sombre affair is subtle and muted, the only highlight being the halo around Jesus' head.  Surely a man rising from the dead would need a few more bells and whistles?

Christ and the Two Marys (1897) William Holman Hunt
There you go, Jesus would obviously turn up with rainbows, but then this is Holman Hunt.  His technicolour resurrection looks a little kitsch these days but I quite like the pizzazz that he lends to the moment, after all this is a fabulous moment for Christians.  This Christ is bringing the party with him.  Good on him.

Mary Magdalene (1877) Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I'd never considered that this lovely Rossetti was an Easter image but the story goes that Mary Magdalene turned up to the tomb with some hard boiled eggs to share with the other mourners but when she saw Jesus, the eggs turned red.  This, therefore, is the mourning Mary holding on to her faith and about to be proved right.  That is quite a big egg she has there. They obviously have heroic-sized chicking in the Holy Lands...

The Angel at the Sepulcre
The Angel at the Tomb

This pair of lovelies are obviously by Julia Margaret Cameron and are the waiting angels at the tomb.  Again, they have the look of patient waiting, solemn and unmovable.  I love all of JMC's work but I think the clarity of the profile of our right-hand angel is so unusually sharp for her.  It is both soft and precise, I love it.

The Easter Bonnet Gustave Jacquet
Of course, Easter means Spring, and rebirth in terms of nature.  I remember my Nan taking part in Easter bonnet competitions and I think it's a very fun idea.  This young lady seems unwilling to shed her big furry coat, after all it is rather chilly in April, but she is sporting a rather pretty hat with some tumbling flowers.

Rolling Easter Eggs (1905) Edward Atkinson Homel
Mixing the religious with the jolly, we have these young girls rolling coloured eggs down a hill.  The act of rolling the eggs is a combination of the religious (rolling the rock away from the tomb) and the egg in nature (the Pagan goddess Eostre was associated with eggs as a symbol of the land holding rebirth inside it).  In England it is traditionally known as pace-egging (from 'Pasch', Old English for Passover) and happens all over the country, sometimes competitively.  Incidentally, the Easter bunny is a variation of Eostre's animal, the hare.

Easter Eggs in the Countryside (1908) Victor Gabriel Gilbert
I love the light in this picture, quite pale but strong and almost a match for what I can see out of my window this morning.  Now, this little girl has gone and thieved a nest full of eggs, which is not a good idea but I'm guessing was probably a former 'delight' of childhood.  I think her Mum ought to nip out to Waitrose and get her a chocolate egg to dissuade her from this practice, or at least go and buy some mini eggs and make rice-crispie nests like we did yesterday.  The goats look less than impressed by this and I don't blame them.

An Easter Holiday (1874) James Aumonier
The girls in this picture are from Bloomsbury Parochial school, out for a holiday trip in a wood in Watford.  They look happy to actually be outside, bless them.  A Parochial school is one affiliated to a church or religious organisation and so Easter must have been a big deal for them at school, probably why they got a treat.  I love how small they seem next to the massive trees and how their blue dresses compliment the pale yellow of the primroses that carpet the wood floor.  Beautiful.

Easter Morning Caspar David Friedrich
Back to Burne-Jones' notion of a quiet, comtemplative Easter, this beautiful canvas by Friedrich is about as far removed from Hunt's disco-Christ as it is possible to get.  These figures are walking in a misty landscape, presumably going to church like the other figures discernible in the distance.  There is no feeling of celebration, no merrymaking, just three women walking up a country road like their neighbours.  In some ways it might be just a rural scene, nothing special, but taking the title into consideration, the trees take on further significance.  The figures seem tiny and the trees appear to guard their way, as if the path has been opened to them, leading to the light in the sky.  The women are stood between the trees looking, like the disciples looking into the empty tomb as God looks down at them.  This painting forms a pair with another entitled Early Snow, showing a lush green landscape dusted with white. Both showcase the majesty and mystery of nature, the seasons and the magic to our eyes of the world we live in.

Well, happy Easter, my dears, I hope you eat yourselves stupid on chocolate and have a good time.  May the weather be pleasant and may you be as happy as chickens and rabbits dancing at some sort of cross-species shin-dig...

Look, I'm not a prude, but no good can come of this, surely?  Oh well, love to all and a happy Easter to you, whoever you dance with this weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Such a nice post you have here.. I really enjoy its content especially those superb images you provided, very captivating indeed. thanks for sharing and more power to your site :)

    easter wishes


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