Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Tuesday 22nd December - Clarice Honor Edwards

Today's post had to wait until I had seen the new Star Wars, and so I am writing from a position of happiness and comfort as I sit on the sofa listening to the driving rain.  I also have my hair in Princess Leia buns but I think the less said about that the better.  Let's move on...

Clarice Honor Edwards (1905) William Robert Symonds
William Symonds was a late Victorian and Edwardian painter of portraits and genre subjects, known for his pictures of sentimental subjects and children.  His skilful portrait of six year old Clarice Edwards shows a little princess in her ringlets and fur.  At first glance she seems perfect, sitting in her antique chair in her Sunday best, but I am intrigued by the dropped glove.  As lovers of Victorian art, we all know a discarded glove is never a positive symbol...

Detail of The Awakening Conscience (1853) William Holman Hunt
Discarded glove alert!
A common meaning to a discarded glove is a girl who will be used and tossed aside but little Clarice is only six, so that seems a little harsh.  So what can we find out about Clarice?  She was the daughter of James Edwards, of the Edwards shipbuilders from Tyneside.  Their household in 1901, in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire (very posh too), consisted of a butler, three housemaids, two nurses and a laundry maid.  By the 1911, she was a pupil at Bentley Priory Girls Private School (la de dah), so we can guess she had a fairly comfortable life.  Possibly the dropped glove refers to the riches she has; she doesn't need her lovely gloves as she has an even more lovely muff.  Could the painter be suggesting the little girl is a tad spoiled?

The Princess and the Frog (1894) William Robert Symonds
The Princess and the Frog shows a regal little girl, again with the ermine motif, considering the frog.  She lets the cloak hang onto the floor carelessly, about to lift the curse from the slimy prince.  Her carelessness might refer to a lack of desire for riches, a generosity rather than avarice and maybe that is what Symonds sees in little Clarice, and possibly not in her parents.  Little Clarice is careless with her belongings as she has not learnt the value of and desire for money.  Her casting of a glove in order to put her hand in the muff may be a sign that she doesn't want more than she needs; she doesn't need both gloves and a muff, so she takes off her gloves.  As details in a painting goes, that solitary glove does give me pause for thought.

Anyway, today's pressie is hot off the press!

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of my favourite Pre-Raphaelite collections and they have just launched a splendid new guide! Available from the museum shop (an ideal excuse to sneak in and see E R Hughes while you are there) or give them a call on 0121 348 8072 to get one by post.  It cost £5 which has to be a smashing bargain and so I'll be giving them a call and reviewing it here after Christmas!

See you tomorrow (and may the Force be with you)....


  1. I love the idea of you in Princess Leia buns! My husband is being mean and refusing to take me to see it because he says it will be so crowded this side of Christmas. May have to go on my own. I thought I was not familiar with William Symonds, but then I saw that you included The Princess and The Frog, one of my old favourites. I know little about his work however and it is always great to see what you have uncovered in your research. That guide looks scrumptious!

  2. Oh LeeAnn, you should definitely grab the popcorn and see Star Wars on your own if your hubbie isn't feeling brave enough. It was wonderful. I have a Leia wig but I was delighted to find my hair is now long enough to make my own!

    Happy Christmas, m'dear!

  3. I truly love this post of yours, Kirsty, as usual you left me in awe !
    I wish you the most wonderful Christmas ever, treasure your family time,
    with love and admiration

  4. The girl looks like she is thinking, do I really have to kiss that frog? (I wonder how many girls over the years actually kissed frogs to see what happened?)


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