Thursday, 19 December 2019

Thursday 19th December - The Death of Procris

Yesterday got a bit heavy, so I thought we'd have a break today with a straightforward death.  Hurrah!

The Death of Procris (1915) George Owen Wynne Apperley
We'll start with the image, as she looks a bit chilly.  Here we have the lovely Procris, and she has died in a pointless, perky and tragic manner.  She was the daughter of King Thingy of Athens and his lovely wife, Queen Whatsit.  Procris married Cephalus, a tricksy fellow, who goes off for 8 years to test his wife, then comes home in disguise to seduce her.  Well, he knows how to keep a marriage exciting and rather irritating.  None of that is particularly relevant to this image, though.  So Procris is convinced Cephalus is having an affair because he is out "hunting" so much.  One day she follows him and then jumps out of a bush in order to catch him with his lover.  Unfortunately, he really does just love hunting and accidentally shoots her because it is never wise to jump out at someone who is armed.

The Death of Procris by Piero di Cosimo (c.1468-1510)
Despite the difference in style and around 400 years, there are a lot of similarities between the version by Apperley and that by Piero di Cosimo, including the faithful hound, mourning at poor, nudey Procris' feet.   In Piero di Cosimo's version, a faun mourns for her, with his weird goaty legs.  I know, it's rude to stare at his little hoofy feet or fluffy ears, but there you go.  I really like his fluffy legs, they must be lovely and warm.  Anyhow, in Apperley's version, it is the trigger-happy husband who is regretting his life choices.  Now, I have a question - where are everyone's clothes? Do people normally go round hunting in the nude or surprising errant loved ones starkers?  It looks like quite clement weather in the earlier painting but in Apperley's version it looks a little chilly and grey.  I understand that if you want to sneak up on your husband, not having any clothes on might be an advantage because there would be no rustling or clumping shoes, but I feel that the drawbacks from crouching in a bush without your pants on might outweigh the benefits.

Self Portrait (c.1910)
I rather like Apperley's self portrait, it reminds me of Maxwell Armfield's young, fancy painting of himself.  He also makes me think of Aziraphale in Good Omens, and could definitely be played by a young Michael Sheen.  There is a very good page on him, again from a site about a location and the people connected to it.  In Apperley's case, it's Andalucia, and there is actually a statue to him in Granada.  This is all very different from his native Isle of Wight, but I suppose both places are nice and sunny, and popular in the summer with elderly British people who remember the 1950s very fondly.

Enriqueta (1923)

Apperley was expelled from art school, such a rebel, and left his first wife after becoming depressed after being found unfit for service in the First World War.  He left Britain for Spain, never to return.  His work available online is all very 'Sultry Spanish Lady', like the lovely Enriqueta here, which is nice but I actually prefer his fussy, young self portrait, being everso English and probably having crumpets for tea.  I like his scene of classical marital discord, but that landscape looks awfully uncomfortable to be crouching around on. It's okay for Procris, she's dead and can't complain about having all the rocks and twigs under her, but Cephalus has to be feeling that on his knees.  Serves him right, I guess, not least for going hunting naked.  Let that be a lesson to all of us.

See you tomorrow.

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