Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Wednesday 16th December - Young Girl With Muff

This has been a busy day already.  Look!  I have bottled four bottles of sloe gin!

At least three of your are getting very lucky at Christmas.  Maybe two.  It depends how rough the next week is.  Anyway, while my biscuit dough is chilling, here is today's image...

Young Girl with Muff Ready to Go Out Kate Greenaway
I recently found a Kate Greenaway book in my parent's loft. It is a 1970s edition for the Laura Ashley generation and was filled with little girls in mob caps and aprons picking flowers.  Kate Greenaway seems to have illustrated my childhood as that aesthetic was everso prevalent when I was little, and seems to have appeared on tea towels, note cards and the suchlike.  It's not very surprising that Greenaway embraced the muff...

Little Girl with Muff

Another Little Moppet and Muff
Catherine 'Kate' Greenaway (1846-1901) was a children's book illustrator and writer known for her very specific style.  Her children are dressed in a variation of late Regency clothing, all smocks and high-waisted muslin dress. Children's clothing in late Georgian art may have provided her with inspiration and in turn, Greenaway's work provided inspiration for a range of clothing at Liberty's. I grew up thinking that this was how Victorian children looked but it's more a case that Greenaway designed it and some Victorians copied it, to fit in with the whole Grovesnor-Gallery-Aesthetic vibe.

Illustration from Kate Greenaway's book May Day
I've always felt that Greenaway's style of illustration is at once beautiful and very packaged.  The figures are very graceful but there is an unreality that I always felt quite distancing.  I was unsurprised to read that Liberty made a range of clothes as there is an aspiration to her images.  I can imagine parents wishing their little moppets would dance prettily, look neat and stay still.  I wonder who she was really aiming her images at: the children or the parents?  Part of me would love to dress Lily up like this but I know full well that she would just bung her Rainbow Dash hoodie on top and then run around in the mud, before spilling her dinner down the front.  Why all children's clothes aren't made of oil cloth, I shall never know...
Our little girl with her furry muff, big hat, long gloves and cape is very dressed up.  Looking at the level of clothing involved in a child's wardrobe of this period makes you think it must have been difficult for children to be children.  Greenaway's muslin gowns are more freeing, but I don't get the feeling that running free is exactly what was intended.  Victorian childhood seems idyllic but possibly only to parents...

Kate Greenaway had a medal established in her honour for children's book illustrators, in 1955.  It seems fitting that today's gift idea should be one of this year's nominees, and so I give you Neil Gaiman's retelling of Hansel and Gretel, illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti.  The illustrations are dark and dense and bring a sense of menace and danger to the slight figures that weave themselves through both the woods and the story.

To buy Hansel and Gretel, either order it from Amazon or from your local bookshop.

See you tomorrow!

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