Well, fourteen years ago I was not having a very good time because I had been in labour for 18 hours by this point and would have about another 14 to go (but luckily I didn't know that second bit at the time). My beloved daughter appeared during the 6th December but took her sweet time doing it and so I always remember with rather grim relish the day I spent in absolute agony (until the epidural man arrived 22 hours in) which is my daughter's birthday eve. Anyway, on with the Sobvent post for today!
|His First Grief (1910) Charles Spencelayh|
Good heavens, but I do love Spencelayh. I will endeavour to do a proper post on him in the new year but I adore his colours and clarity and his inability to let Victorianism go. The Victorians loved a good dead pet picture. My God, I have seen any number of little poppets grizzling over birds such as this one...
|The Dead Bird (1886) Paul Constant Soyer|
...but the Spencelayh has a radiance about it in the red and greens of the solemn little chap and his dead canary. I love that the little boy is so full of colour, with his red hair and flushed cheeks; he could not be more filled with life and vigour. The washed out little bird in the palm of his hand looks pale and fragile in contrast, its white tail echoing the white of his collar. It's part of the genre of children coping with child versions of adult emotions - today's it's a canary but tomorrow you are burying most of your family who have been wiped out by diseases of the poor, or died in childbirth, or were lost at sea or something. By experiencing the death of Whistles, Fat Bob or Gregory Peck (just some of my Grandmother's canaries), it can been shown as the end of innocence and the realisation that actually growing up can be a bit crap on the whole. What a swizz.
|Fingerprints (1953) Charles Spencelayh|
As I mentioned, I love Spencelayh, not least because in an awful lot of his 'interiors' you can spot very familiar paintings, such as Bubbles by J E Millais in this canvas from the 1950s. It's Spencelayh's eminent Victorian-ness, that quality that Agatha Christie's Miss Marple announced was so hopelessly vieux jeu. I find the relationship of Victorians to the mid-twentieth century to be fascinating, as modern life moved upon us so quickly and people were not short of prejudice against what it meant to be 'Victorian'. More of that to come in the new year, but as a parting thought, Spencelayh's little chap does rather remind me of visiting the baby animal handling bit of a local farm. My favourite bit was always when they gave the children a chick to hold, because Lily always made me hold the chick while she stroked it. We'd invariably be sat next to some little boy whose enthusiasm for the chick knew no bounds and squeezing was always the result. I remember one particularly chilling moment when the mum next to us exclaimed delighted, 'Ah, look, it's fallen asleep in little Tommy's warm hand...' I'm sure the chick was absolutely fine but we didn't hang around to find out.
See you tomorrow...