Friday, 17 December 2021

Friday 17th December - Turning Point

 Today's picture is a bit of a puzzler, which is just what I like...

Turning Point (1873) Alexander Johnston

Oh hello, what's occurring here then? A chap stands looking out at us with a befuddled expression as a young woman holds his hat and a little moppet clutches a dog.  Outside, his nefarious friends look through the window. Let's take this a bit at a time...

This appears to be a family group.  The wife seems very respectably dressed, although her black attire suggests a death.  The child is a bit rougher in dress, the strap broken on her bodice and her feet bare. She is holding a little black terrier.  The husband in the centre, appealed to on either side, looks out at us with his hands in his pockets.  Is his expression despair, anger, sulkiness? His wife is holding on to his collar as she pleads with him. Lawks, he was just popping out for a bit...

At the window, we have some proper dodgy types.  I think these are the husband's friends who are trying to tempt him out on the town. Seeing as his child has no shoes, I think his gesture of putting his hands in his pockets implies he is running out of money because of his naughty ways. I am reminded of my favourite children's book - I thoroughly endorse this for Christmas, as it is hilarious reading - called Mr Pusskins...

A quick plot summary is as follows - Mr Pusskins, a spoilt ginger cat, gets fed up of being the sole spark of joy in his owner, Emily's life and so runs off his the Pesky Cat Gang, who let him get up to all sorts of mischief...

Yes, yes, life without Emily was indeed such naughty fun, until all the Pesky Cat Gang bugger off somewhere else and leave Mr Pusskins tired, alone and miserable, regretting that he had left the comfort of Emily's lap.


Damn straight, Mr Pusskins.  He then goes crawling back to Emily via a puzzling telephone call which raises many questions such as how did he dial, and where exactly did he get the money for a phone box from, how did she know where to find him? We read this book out at Lily's 2nd birthday to all the parents because it is impossible not to see it's based on an ex-boyfriend who really didn't appreciate how good he had it. A thoroughly wonderful book. Anyway, I can see the chap in our painting looking like he wants to go out with his mates and sing on a fence while possibly drunk or high on cat nip, or something. He is at the turning point which might be financial or moral or both. It's not good.

The discarded handkerchief on the floor is a disquieting note of red, pick up in the flower on the window sill.  The waistcoat and the curtain echo it in a deeper shade.  I wonder if it is meant to symbolise blood?  Is there a threat of violence if he goes out?  Will he not be returning, as hinted at in the widow's weaves the lady is wearing? And what is the letter on the chair? It isn't the reason for the mourning as there is no black border on the paper. Might it be the reason the man is going out on the rampage?

The table behind is set with a very demure tea scene, with cake or a bun of some sort, a teapot and a cup in its saucer. I wonder if the tipped cup is significant.  Blimey, everything seems to be significant! 

Up in the rafters is a tatty basket, possibly used to bring the puppy home. It symbolises domestic matters but it is looking a bit battered and beaten, unsurprisingly. If the little dog symbolises faithfulness and loyalty, the method it was brought into the house is looking a little worse for wear and honestly doesn't look like it could hold anything.

So what do we think is going to happen?  Is loyalty going to win out and will our chap stay home or is he off with his very own pesky cat gang? Will our grumpy looking chap stay with his incredibly pale wife or blow the housekeeping on fast gin and strong women? What was in that letter?  I have so many questions but I guess we shall never know if his turning point was for better or worse.

See you tomorrow.

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