Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Wednesday 3rd December - Winter's Loveliness

Oh dear, I'm not at my most lovely at this moment having drunk a little too much Christmas Mead.  It was yummy and I'm certain it was medicinal however now it's a little tricky with the typing and sitting and the suchlike.  Let's soldier on as we have 21 more posts until we're done, so mead-sodden or not, here we go...

Winter's Loveliness Edward Harrison Compton
I grew up near a wood and a large pond where some blasphemous Victorians went boating on Sunday and drowned.  That learned them.  Anyway, come the snow and it turned into this glorious landscape of trees, snow, ice, and water.  The pale sky reflected back on the water and the snow and ice, frosted siblings in nature, turned land and water into a white landscape of perfection.  Where the snow had fallen away, the earth appeared and gave the effect of Christmas cake, iced and rich, pure and deep.  Sharp winter sun on snow is almost too much to look at, dazzling in its beauty.  Irritating, cold, wet and hard work to walk through, snow lends a drama to a landscape, like whisking a pure white tablecloth over the higgledy-piggledy contents of a table, making the landscape anew. 
Edward Harrison Compton
Edward Harrison Compton looks a rather splendid sort of chap, like a slightly scary uncle who's a big softy really.  The son of a landscape painter and brother to two painting sisters, Compton grew up in Bavaria, before attending the Central School of Arts and Craft in London.  He wanted to paint mountains, but contracted polio at 28 and was forced to paint more accessible landscapes back in his homeland.  His work was exhibited both in Germany and in Britain and he provided illustration for many travel books during the first half of the twentieth century.  In case you were wondering, the mountains didn't go unpainted, his sister Dora Keel-Compton painted them instead.

Today's pressie suggestion is a book that has been instrumental in making me the art historian you see before you (virtually).  If you have an interest in Pre-Raphaelite women, then you need to read Jan Marsh's Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood...

It's where I turned when I wanted to know more about Fanny Cornforth almost 20 years ago, and it is the best book on the lives of the women connected to the artists that I have ever read and inspired me to want to research, to know more, to write.  Jan Marsh is made of wonderful and this book is why I kiss her every time I meet her.

To buy this book, look on Amazon here (UK) or here (US) or try Abebooks, as it is currently out of print, so you can get copies very reasonably priced.  You'll love it, I guarantee.


  1. Agreed. It was this book that triggered my interest in the Pre-Raphaelites. I am surprised it is out of print.

  2. Dear Kirsty
    The book is one of my favourites too - I wanted to know more about the real women behind the muses and models - and I have just enjoyed re-reading it!
    Best wishes

  3. It is a great book and I was delighted to see how cheaply you can buy it.

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. Thanks so much for this timely reminder. I read this, and would love my own copy. Hope the mead head soon resolves!

  5. Ah, mead is marvellous. My Christmas mead comes from English Heritage, who I work for so it is my corporate duty to enjoy it. I feel so warm and loyal.

    Thanks for the comments.

  6. Considering that my first book concerning the PRB was Violet Hunt's on Lizzie Siddall, I could have wept with joy when I discovered the coherent writing of Jan Marsh. She deserves lots of kisses!

  7. Dear Kirsty

    I've just read this and the appreciative follow-ups So thank you for the plug - it's good to know the book is still liked, notwithstanding the many others that have appeared since

    merry Christmas

  8. Thanks for all the comments.

    Jan, you and your books mean the world to us.
    Happy Christmas, M'dear.


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