Summer disturbed « LAST POST

Another captivating post from my childhood friend, Pippa Rathborne, which tells me much that I didn’t know about Gainsborough’s family.

Originally posted on LAST POST.

The Painter’s Daughters Chasing a Butterfly, one of Gainsborough’s intimate studies of his daughters made in the late 1750s, which took 18th century sensibility forward into a Romantic awareness of individual development through the senses. Image © copyright The National Gallery London

He sees beyond the fragile innocence of two little girls, in the glancing light of a fashionably Rousseauian childhood idyll, to a more profound understanding. He is not just a portraitist exploiting vulnerability and shimmering fabric; he is their father who loves them. He dared to paint the anxiety showing in their faces as they move rapidly through the sinister half-darkness of a wood, that is both catalyst and externalization of their unconscious minds.

Happiness as represented by the decoratively winged insect is always out of their reach; they experience, as Keats described, “the feel of not to feel it”.

Love and madness disturb a summer’s day two hundred and fifty years after two little girls chased a butterfly.

I try to imagine again my first…

via Summer disturbed « LAST POST.

9 thoughts on “Summer disturbed « LAST POST

  1. I lived for many years near Sudbury in Suffolk home of Ganisborough and I had no idea of this sad aspect if his life either Sarah! I think he was just part of the local wallpaper although his house was a delightful museum. Another great find and thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

            1. Ah, yes, Kersey – of course. Perhaps you might have known them at the time. While two of my cousins have lived in London for some decades, my cousin Ben Hoskyns lives in the family home in Great Waldingfield and is a renowned wildlife artist!


  2. Thank you, Sarah, for giving those plaintive Gainsborough girls a bigger sympathetic audience. I hesitated to post out of fear everyone would think I was putting a downer on the transitory English summer!

    Liked by 1 person

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