Wednesday 20 December 2017

Wednesday 20th December: The Adoration of the Shepherds

Blimey, we really are on the last few now!  It's my last day at work today, and Lily's last day at school for this year and so I'll be glad when I don't have to get up tomorrow morning.  Of course I will get up as Blogvents don't write themselves, and on that note, here's today's offering...

The Adoration of the Shepherds (c.1834-8) Patrick Branwell Brontë
Today's painting comes from everyone's favourite wastrel-of-a-brother, Branwell Brontë, sibling of Emily, Charlotte and Anne and proof that even really talented families have someone who you don't really want to invite over at Christmas (or at least hide all the sloe gin before he arrives).  He's probably best known for the portrait of his sisters, which he removed himself from...

Anne, Emily and Charlotte Brontë (1834)
I feel a bit sorry for Branwell as he didn't seem to have the confidence or ability to apply himself to work or opportunities.  His sisters were prepared for jobs (which were horrible jobs, the best sort of motivation you need to get on with stuff that get you out of those jobs, in my experience) but Branwell really wasn't and was left to float along trying to become successful without putting effort into it.  If only he could have become famous and well paid for drinking and sleeping with ladies, his problems would have been over...

The Lonely Shepherd (1838-9)
The frustrating thing about Branwell's art is that some of it is intriguingly good and shows real potential.  I love the use of light and darkness in his nativity, a sort of chiaroscuro of holy glow, which is very effective.  The smudged colour of The Lonely Shepherd gives the impression of everything blowing in the night air, a wildness in the moonlight, with some colour picked out in the bracken.

Hot, French Branwell from Les Soeurs Brontë (1979) in your actual French and everything
I see Branwell is having a bit of a revival this year and is being promoted as not 'the least useful useful Brontë' as he has previously been known, but as an interesting man of promise.  Thinking about it, I suppose the question shouldn't be why did the isolation make Branwell drink and put it about, but maybe why did it not make the girls go barmy too?  Possibly Bramwell's reaction, whilst not exactly helpful, was honest because anyone who has been to Haworth could appreciate how gloriously cut off it was from life.  It could be that the girls expressed their wildness in words, writing some of the most compelling literature in the English language, which to my mind is the preferable way to go.  You're less likely to end up with a rash, that's for sure.

See you tomorrow...


  1. Do you think that's Emily posing for Mary? Be fitting if it was so.

    1. That's not out of the question at all. Heaven knows he was short of appropriate models (mind you I'm sure he knew of a few inappropriate ones...)

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. How interesting! I've never seen anything of Branwell's art before apart from the one of his sisters. What a sad and wasted life.


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