Saturday, 5 December 2015

Saturday 5th December - Black and White

Today's muff comes from slightly later than we are used to, but I couldn't resist as it is such a striking picture...

Black and White (1930s) Dod Procter
Born in 1892, Doris 'Dod' Procter was a figure, landscape and still life artist, famous for her smooth, light modern style whilst holding very much to figurative works.  In Black and White (which was purchased by Southampton Art Gallery in 1933), we see a group of ladies accessories left on a modern side table after a night out.  Her opera gloves are threaded through the ermine muff and the black and white shawl matches the whole monochrome theme of the picture, recalling the line of the table and the candlestick.  We are left in no doubt that this is a thoroughly up-to-date home of luxury and we are left to speculate on the nature of the evening out - has she been to the opera?  An exclusive cocktail party with oodles of champagne and canapes?  It's unlikely she's been up the 24hr Tesco...

Paws!  Legs, paws and tail!
I remember my mum having two tiny ermine tips in her sewing box which I adored when I was small and unaware that the ermine hadn't parted with them willingly.  With the ermine muff above you are not holding an anonymous ball of fluff but something that has traces of the form of the animal it came from.  Sometimes this went further, such as the photograph above. I'm not squeamish but I don't feel there is anything glam about having dangling feet hanging off your handwarmer.  Even worse, some muffs had the tiny little heads staring at you accusingly. However, the prize for the most odd thing to do with your muff has to go to the 'Illuminated Muff' and how it can scare away the most terrifying city peril.  Or something.

For goodness sake, this is just disturbing. I'm not sure I want to 'blaze forth in glory', thank you very much.  Mind you, if you saw a floating ermine head coming towards you in the fog with glowing eyes, I think it might scare the most determined muff-botherer away...

Morning (1927) Dod Procter
Back to Dod Procter, and she is probably best known for her languorous Morning, bought for the Nation by the Daily Mail and presented to the Tate Gallery. Painted in Cornwall, the model was a fisherman's 16 year old  daughter, Cissie Barnes.  I've always loved the solid smoothness of her figures and Morning is a marvellous example of how 'statuesque' her bodies are.  She is both carved and painted, the Newlyn light cool and clear.  The same clarity and certainty infuses her more urban Black and White. I'd love to see a retrospective of her work in the future to marry these two visions of England between the wars.
So, for today's present suggestion, I'm going to go with a bit of jewellery...
This gorgeous slice of brass is available from the William Morris Gallery shop and is decorated with Morris' Brother Rabbit pattern. It's a nice way to wear a Morris design and each bracelet is handmade in Devon by artist Kate Smith.  They are rather pretty and will no doubt make any Victorian lover giddy with delight.
The bracelet is £29.95 and is available from the Gallery shop here.
See you tomorrow as our muff-odyssey continues...


  1. Thank you for the introduction to the wonderful Dod Procter, I can't recall seeing any of her work before. I love the illuminated muff so much, I've had to share the image on Facebook.

  2. Dear Kirsty
    I am loving 'Muffvent'! I awarded myself a gold star today because as soon as I read the name 'Dod Procter', I immediately thought of Morning, which has stayed with me even though it is years since I saw the painting. I think I need to find out more about her, so thank you for the prompt!
    Best wishes

  3. This article, the "Illuminated Muff" in particular gave my husband and me a great deal of merriment. Considering that it was advertised during the time of air raids he wondered how a neighborhood warden would have reacted to seeing two glowing "eyes" and whether there would be a sort of visor for shading the lights from above? I had an image drawn from "The Hound of the Baskerviles".

    One also wonders just what sort of illuminated clothing was offered for men to wear. Perhaps a hat with fore and aft lights in green and red respectively? Thank you for all of your writing and for finding the ad for the battery powered animal headed muff.



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