Thursday, 18 December 2014

Thursday 18th December - Winter is Cold Hearted

Hello again Chaps, how are we all feeling?  All hanging in there? I hope people had the chance for a bit of a sit down and a cup of tea yesterday.  I had a bit of a think and dialed back some of my commitments so that I don't melt before next week. I just poured a bit more brandy on the cake.  I really need to stop doing that or else I'll be serving it in glasses come Christmas day.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing.

Right then, on with Blogvent...

Winter is Cold-Hearted Florence Harrison
Gosh, Florence Harrison, how we love you.  I must admit, I was always a big fan of Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale and her book illustration so overlooked Harrison, which was such a mistake.  Her work is in a flowing Art Nouveau style combined with very Pre-Raphaelite sensibilities, and the results are lovely.  Like EFB, I actually prefer Harrison's line drawings but the cool tones of this image, from a poem by Christina Rossetti, caught my eye.

'Winter is cold-hearted' is the first line in Rossetti's poem 'Summer':

Winter is cold-hearted,
        Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weathercock
         Blown every way:
Summer days for me
         When every leaf is on its tree;

Rossetti concentrates on the wonder of Summer, the certainty and bounty of the season.  Spring and Autumn seem uncertain and Winter is 'cold-hearted', indifferent or cruel.  In Harrison's illustration, a cloaked woman seems to be brushing the last leaves from the spindly branches, making all bleak and sparse.  While it might just be that Rossetti loved the sun, it might also refer to relationships, where you knew the goodness of a person, the good things they could and would offer you and their feelings were steady and certain.  No-one needs to be in relationship with indifference, uncertainty or coldness, it's unfair and a waste of your love. Blimey, with a brother like hers, you could see her point.

Goblin Market
Harrison illustrated a collection of Rossetti's poems.  I love the hurry-hurry sense in her Goblin Market illustrations, the two sisters being caught up in something they cannot control and clinging to each other for support.  While Rossetti's brother showed Lizzie as the sensible, strong sister who saves Laura from her addiction, Harrison has the girls being blown around by the situation with an added sense of drama, until one sister can save the other by her own sacrifice.  It's like Frozen but with dodgy fruit and no talking snowman.

She Wept, I am Aweary, Aweary, O God that I were Dead
I really should have been paying more attention to the work of Harrison as she must have cropped up in my Master's thesis on Tennyson and Pre-Raphaelite imagery. Her 'Mariana' seems to echo that of the Pre-Raphaelites and artists such as Henrietta Rae or Marie Stillman (note the bottle-bottom window), and that look of a woman stuck indoors waiting for some ratweasel to call.  We're all been there, Babe, he's not calling. You'd be better off reading your book, Love.

I think my New Year's resolution ought to be to find out more about Florence Harrison and her marvellous illustrations, but for the meantime I ought to go and re-brandy the cake.  Don't worry, I have to add marzipan on Friday night so there is only so much damage I can do in the meantime.  Also, I only have so much brandy.  Such is life.

My pressie suggestion today is some lovely jewellery.  You may remember back in March I worked with the lovely people over at Eclectic Eccentricity (see my post here) when they launched a range of jewellery inspired by Pre-Raphaelites. My present suggestion is their Venus Rose Quartz Collar Necklace as it is made of gorgeous (and quartz). To buy from them, shop here.

See you tomorrow...


  1. Does that cake really exist or is it the equivalent of Hitchcock's MacGuffin?

  2. The cake is real, I promise. There will be a picture when I've iced it! Probably followed by a picture of me flat-out after the first slice.

  3. Love! You always make me smile and laugh and generally feel better. Thank you. And I am having my tea right now, which is early in central USA!


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