Sunday, 23 December 2018

Sunday 23rd December: Marianne Shingles

Busy day today - when I was a little girl, the highlight of every Christmas was when we would drive down to my Grandma's house (in a village not far from our home) and collect our Christmas presents on Christmas Eve.  We'd set off after lunch and have tea at Gran's, then come home, the car full of pressies, the evening drawing in and people's Christmas lights all twinkly and magical.  Well, today, we will be going to our friends' houses and delivering pressies in a sort of homage to that, plus I also get to see the Christina Rossetti exhibition up at the Watts Gallery, so lots to do.  Let's crack on!

I actually changed my mind over who I was going to do today.  I was going to talk about Frederick Sandys' common law sister-in-law (sister-in-common-law?) Augusta 'Gussie' Jones, but while I was reading about her just now I read the name Marianne Shingles and that was it.  I love a jolly name, let's talk about her!

La Bell Jeune Giroflees (1869) Frederick Sandys
Whilst writing Girl Gang, I really wanted to know more about Emma Sandys.  She is such a mystery and in many ways typifies the problem of researching women.  The same is very true of John Brett's sister Rosa - if there is a talented boy in the family, we were never looking at the girl and she sort of just slips from view.  If that girl gets married that might well put pay to any ambitions they had of a career, but she stands a chance of having her memory and possessions treasured by her children until her moment can come, but if that woman died a spinster, the unpleasant fact is that they are unusual if they get preserved in a meaningful way.  Which is probably why the above image of Marianne Shingles, painted by Frederick Sandys appears in a Google search for "Marianne Shingles Sandys" before this...

La Belle Jeune Giroflees (1869) Emma Sandys
Yes, that's the same girl, the same day, the same damn everything and Marianne was primarily Emma's model.  I instantly recognised her from this...

Viola (1865-77) Emma Sandys
She has quite an aquiline nose and a stubborn little chin, bless her, plus also, of course, that hair! So by the same token, Marianne Shingles might also be...

A Pre-Raphaelite Beauty (1870s) Emma Sandys
And her...

Woman in a Yellow Dress (1870s) Emma Sandys
Possibly her...

Portrait of a Lady (1870s) Emma Sandys
...which is quite a collection of 'big hair and nice necklace' pieces from Sandys, so I definitely wanted to find more.

Frederick and Emma Sandys will get their revival, I'm sure.  I'm especially surprised that Frederick isn't better known as his work is often included in Pre-Raphaelite books and the odd exhibition and there is a smashing catalogue raisonne by Betty Elzea (which has been on my Amazon wishlist for a while now).  I own the small and perfectly formed 1974 catalogue, which is cheap online and very useful, but I think Frederick is just awaiting a retrospective.  Emma too will hopefully get her moment, although Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerrish Nunn have always been fighting her cause, which is just one of the many, many reasons we love them.  In comparison to Emma, Marianne Shingles (of the Norfolk Shingles, which is brilliant) was a piece of cake to find.

Once upon a time in Norwich there lived a man called William Lawes Shingles.  He had started his career as a servant in a pub, but after marry Mary Ann Loads in the autumn of 1851, William became a licensed victualler himself, which is a fancy way of saying he could sell alcohol, probably in a pub.  He didn't stick at that however, and by 1871 he was driving a cab, while his wife works as a domestic servant.  Mind you, they are living in quite a decent area in Grapes Hill.  It's so nice that the family that follow them in the census record are the Sandys.

Winding back to 1855, the Shingles had a daughter whom they named after her mother, Mary Ann.  The poshing-up of her name to Marianne might well reflect a rise in social class, which we will look at in a moment, but while still Mary Ann, she worked as a silk weaver.  I love to read about handcrafting in the past, and you know I love to have a go - I can spin, knit, sew, milk a cow, make bee skeps - however if I had to do it as a living it would be hideous and not fun at all.  I can't see any family trace of silk weaving before Mary Ann (before marriage her mother was a servant and a dairy maid) but it might have been in either her mother or father's families.  Norfolk, together with Coventry and the more famous Spitalfields, was a centre of weaving and so it might have just been a case of entering into available employment.  The family seem to have moved regularly - they are never in the same place between census, just in same small area, for example between Upper Giles Street and Grapes Hill.  When Mary Ann was posing for Emma Sandys, she was only in her mid to late teens, which I found surprising given how adult she looks, but then she was married at 20 and having children shortly after, so life moved quickly back then.

Isolde and the Love Potion (1871) Frederick Sandys
So if we take the possible dates for Mary Ann Shingles to be a model for the Sandys siblings as between 1869 until her first child in 1876 then that opens possibilities of both what dates certain pictures can be narrowed down to and whether Mary Ann could be the model for works such as Isolde and the Love Potion, painted in Norwich in 1871.    Mary Ann married George Lewis Warren, son of a shoemaker from Poringland, a village near Norwich.  George went into the boot making business too, but also did a bit of licensed victualling (if that is a word) and other jobs as their family grew. I did cheer when the family got their own house by the 1891 census, and George had become the foreman at a shoe factory (which shows you the progress of industry in a very obvious way). Mary Ann had moved on to worsted weaving from silk and their eldest son had become a teacher.  By the 1911 census, my favourite census, the family are running a pub, now the West End Retreat in Browne Street in Norwich.  After 36 years of marriage and five children (one of whom must have been a baby who died between census) Mary Ann (or Marianne or Mary Annie as she variously appears) would live on until 1933 when she died in the same year as her husband.  She had outlived the woman who she had modelled for by over half a century, but unlike Elizabeth Siddal or Jane Morris, Mary Ann Shingles would be as lost in time as Emma Sandys.

Day Dreaming (1870s) Emma Sandys
It is good to remember her and Emma Sandys, the artist who immortalised her face, because they both contributed to our enjoyment of art in a meaningful way and hopefully, their time in the spotlight will come.

See you tomorrow...


  1. Thank you, a lovely piece. I do hope you are right about the possibility of a revival for Frederick Sandys, on of my favourites. In the meantime he opens the door to all sorts of goodies such as Marianne Shingles. Happy Christmas.

  2. Kirsty, just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your blog. Looking at Rossetti's painting "Fair Rosamund" recently, I was inspired to write this poem. A little thanks for your efforts. Regards, Walter

    “Fallen Rose”

    Raised besheltered by a wall from wind and hail,
    At times of plague and war, her beauty blossomed frail,
    A rose without a thorn, she was thought fair and pure,
    When all too soon, she drew attention promising a cure.

    For his love to Eleanor had waned amidst her frigid stare,
    Deprived an inner strength, much strained by state affair,
    The royal gardener tended this rose with much devotion,
    A heart filled with romance was not going to heed caution.

    In an enchanted garden, a maze protected her green grove,
    Her days filled with heavenly love and yet she strove,
    Unplucked without the roots, a rose’s life’s ephemeral,
    In the reaper’s grasp, her deep red lips glowed seminal.

    No bath nor spring could keep her stem and pedals moist,
    With every morning sun’s return, more strenuous to hoist,
    Drops of dew along the silken thread her final joyfulness,
    While hastening Eleanor’s approach whose wrath was poisonous.

    Much revered, the world’s fallen rose was buried in the abbey,
    Her deeds awaiting judgement, the bush outside grows shaggy,
    The stones have fallen down, roses betwixt the ruins are with thorn,
    The love for her will be eternal, the path to her grave now worn.


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