The holidays are over, and I am conscious that there’s a lot happening this autumn. So I have been trying to get more organised regarding general housekeeping before the start of the new school year.
To quote the blog of my friend Frances “Start the new year off with a clean slate and a clean toilet, I always say.” This seems a noble aim, and I want to add “and clean sheets on all beds and an empty ironing basket”
We had a charity carrier bag pushed through the letter box on Monday morning, so I resolved to fill it before Wednesday’s collection. I tidied a bookshelf and found a number of books to donate, and some other books I had mislaid, and I rearranged things a bit and dislodged a lot of dust. Then I discovered a clipframe [with an art postcard in it] was wedged between copies of “Eats,Shoots, and Leaves” and “Elegance”
It is Holman Hunt’s “Isabella and the Pot Of Basil” based on the poem by Keats [taken from Bocaccio’s Decameron] It is an utterly gruesome tale. Why did I buy this card – was it a mad Pre-Raphaelite moment ? I cannot for the life of me remember.
I do like the P-R’s - we have a print of ‘Mariana’, by Millais at Cornerstones [‘backache woman’ as we’ve nicknamed her]
Two other paintings I like are these -
Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s Proserpine
And John William Waterhouse [associated with, but not strictly a member of, the PR ‘Brotherhood’] did The Lady Of Shallot
But whilst I love their attention to detail and rich colours and textures, why did they often choose such miserable subjects? All these women seem to have been badly treated by men, thwarted in love, and given to moping about.
And all those lacy frocks and drooping shawls must have got really muddy and damp – not to mention the wildly flowing locks getting out of control [no Pantene or Frizz-Ease back then!]
See also Ophelia! [another one by Millais]
Are there any Pre Raphaelite pictures out there of a beautiful, happily married woman, smiling with joy because she knows that upstairs is a freshly made bed and a beautifully cleaned toilet?
Perhaps that’s why I am also fond of the Flemish artists, with those graceful women working diligently in their kitchens
You just know this woman’s bedroom is tidy and her bathroom is spotless!
It must be possible to combine these two roles successfully – the romantic, beautiful woman [floating about in pretty frocks, tending her garden and sewing her tapestries] with the domestic practical woman [efficient housekeeper, cordon bleu cook, capable mother] Isn’t that what that wife in Proverbs 31 achieved?
…and this is where everything falls down – I start off with noble intentions [tidy the bookshelf, fill the charity bag, then prepare a meal] and I get waylaid into dreaming about Great Art…and then that sends me down a side-track where I find the germ of an idea about a sermon I want to preach…and my beloved gets beans on toast again - when I probably ought to have been inspired instead to produce something exciting with fresh basil or shallots!
Oh dear – I am already beginning to despair about my housewifely failures, and we haven’t even started the new term yet!