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The pastoral tradition — whether poetry, music, literature or painting — has long been popular, particularly the art of the 19th century when Victorians lapped up engaging scenes of country life. It was an idealised version of the truth which has led to the erroneous assumption that life in the countryside is a deal more peaceful and beautiful than town. It’s an assumption that pertains to this day and there are many who tell a tale of moving away from the relentless struggle in the cities, perhaps buying a small holding, only to discover that it is a good deal smellier and dirtier than town and earning enough to survive is well-nigh impossible. There are exceptions, of course, but unless you’ve had a countryside upbringing, it can come as a shock.

As soon as I saw this photograph of a modern farming scene by Vladimir Kudinov from Unsplash, I decided to follow the pastoral tradition and age the image. Whether I’ve succeeded is for you to say but I’m quite pleased with the result.

Using Photoshop I ‘sponged’ and redefined the machine to make it look as if it were a bale of hay being transported. I did the same ‘sponging’ with the modern levers where the farmer is sitting. When I was happy, I added the 2LO Broken 17 texture from 2 Lil’ Owls and set it to the ‘screen’ mode.

Next I added a texture from Kerstin Frank, making it less saturated and more of a muted green than the original — click through to see her original texture. This I set to the ‘multiply’ mode.

Bringing in the Harvest
Bringing in the Harvest

Prints available at Crated and the DODO iPad Case at Zazzle. Soon to be available on all products at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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FROM THE ARCHIVE

Originally posted on First Night Design.

Although this engraving by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin is available online in the public domain, mine is actually a scan from an original print published as Plate 69 of Microcosm of London (1810) which my parents had bought from a local antique dealer in the 1960s.

I have not been able to discover what’s being performed but it looks something of a spectacular production what with the horse and carriage, the Boadicea-like figure and gigantic pillars! If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

While the following quote is not from the early 19th century, it describes what Sadler’s Wells had become by the 1840s:

‘Without, the theatre, by night, was like the worst part of the worst kind of Fair in the worst kind of town. Within, it was a bear-garden, resounding with foul language, oaths, catcalls, shrieks, yells, blasphemy, obscenity – a truly diabolical clamour. Fights took place anywhere, at any period of the performance… Sickly children in arms were squeezed…

via First Night Design | Sadler’s Wells Theatre by Rowlandson & Pugin | First Night Design.


Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

Inveterate collector, Mike Henbrey has been acquiring harshly comic nineteenth century Valentines for more than twenty years.

Mischievously exploiting the anticipation of recipients on St Valentine’s Day, these grotesque insults couched in humorous style were sent to enemies and unwanted suitors, and to bad tradesmen by workmates and dissatisfied customers. Unsurprisingly, very few have survived which makes them incredibly rare and renders Mike’s collection all the more astonishing.

“I like them because they are nasty,” Mike admitted to me with a wicked grin, relishing the vigorous often surreal imagination at work in his cherished collection – of which a small selection are published here today for the  first time – revealing a strange sub-culture…

via Mike Henbrey’s Vinegar Valentines | Spitalfields Life.


Originally posted on Mimi Matthews.

The scandalous tale of Lady Godiva’s ride has been in circulation for nearly ten centuries.  In that time, it has provided inspiration for innumerable poets, painters, and sculptors.  Inevitably, Lady Godiva is depicted as naked on horseback, covered only by her long hair, as she rides through the town of Coventry.  But did such a ride ever take place?  According to some sources it did.The legend was first recorded in Roger of Wendover’s 13th century Flores Historiarum (Flowers of History).  Since then, it has been listed as fact in several other historical texts, including both Charles Knight’s A History of England and Chambers’ Encyclopaedia.Lady Godiva by William Holmes Sullivan, 1877. According to the legend, Lady Godiva was so distressed about the high taxes levied on the citizens of Coventry that she appealed to her…

via The Legend of Lady Godiva: Depictions in Art, Literature, and History | Mimi Matthews.


Originally posted on e-Tinkerbell.

Whenever I think about Constance Lloyd  Wilde, and what she had to endure, all alone in an age when  it was important to be “earnest”, respectable and have the sense of decorum, I cannot help but wonder: what was her marriage like? When did she understand about her husband’s sexual behaviour? How did she feel? Let’s start from the beginning.

As far as we know, Constance first met Wilde at a party given by Lady Wilde for her two sons at Merrion Square in Dublin on 6 June 1881. Constance was a passionate reader of poetry and discovered soon that Wilde shared with her a deep admiration for Keats. On the following day, she wrote to her brother Otho:

“O. W. came yesterday at about 5.30 (by which time I was shaking with fright!) and stayed for half an hour, begged me to come and see his mother again soon…. I can’t help liking him, because when he’s talking to me alone he’s never a bit affected, and speaks naturally, excepting that he uses better language than most people.”

The following months, she slowly grew attached to him, but her parents were not that impressed by Wilde’s extravagance and furthermore, the eccentricities of his parents were notorious.  Somebody asserts that Wilde was more interested in her family ‘s wealth than Constance herself, but some others, like Ann Clark Amor, believe that…

via My husband, Oscar Wilde. | e-Tinkerbell.


This is a fascinating article about the two sons of Oscar Wilde, Cyril and Vyvyan.

e-Tinkerbell

os4 Vyvyan Holland Wilde

Unconventional, scandalous, witty, generous, brilliant, these are just a few adjectives that may suit a man of such genius and personality like Oscar Wilde, a man who knew both the triumph and adoration of people and the brutal disaster at the end of his life. Whenever I think about the swirl of events that characterized his life of man and artist, I can’t help but think about his children. What kind of father was Oscar Wilde? What did it mean growing under the shadow of such a giant of his times?

os6 Constance Wilde and Cyril

Oscar Wilde had two sons: Cyril (1885-1915) and Vyvyan (1886-1967). Many of my curiosities were satisfied by Vyvyan, who wrote : “Son of Oscar Wilde”. As far as we know, the boys had a marvelous early childhood. They grew up at the Wildes’ fashionable home in Tite Street, Chelsea. As their…

View original post 1,309 more words


Swan & Edgar’s Fashionable Furs was one of the first greeting cards I made at Zazzle. I scanned this advertisement from one of my early 20th century editions of the English theatre periodical, Play Pictorial.

Regent_Street,_London_W1_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1098011

Even if you have never heard of Swan & Edgar’s, this grand department store was housed in one of the most recognisable and iconic buildings of Piccadilly Circus, between Piccadilly and Regent Street. It was the establishment in which to be seen for it sold the most sumptuous clothes for the well-heeled. The store had its beginnings in a haberdashery stall in St James Market run by William Edgar early in the 19th century. After meeting George Swan, the two men combined resources:

They first opened a shop together in Ludgate Hill which Mr Swan had been operating, but moved to 20 Piccadilly in 1812. They then moved to 49 Regent Street when their former site was demolished to make way for Piccadilly Circus, which had been the home to the Western Mail coach offices and the Bull & Mouth public house. George Swan died in 1821, however Mr Edgar continued to use the name. By 1848 the premises had expanded to 45-51 and the entire corner of Piccadilly Circus… [Wikipedia]

stores_swanedgar

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


double-cross

Originally posted on Albert Jack (except for the image!)

To Double Cross a person (or to be ‘double crossed’) is to cheat somebody, or to betray a confidence. Initially this phrase used to mean to indicate that both parties were involved in the deception, although it is now commonly understood as applying to only one party. There is a suggestion that this expression began life in the Middle Ages when Venetian merchants (Venice being the capital of the trading world at that time) would affect allegiance to fellow Westerners by making the sign of the cross in the way Westerners did, and then show the same loyalty to Easterners by crossing themselves in the way Easterners used to. It is said that this divided loyalty led to the introduction of the term ‘double crosser’. But there is stronger evidence suggesting the expression is far more recent, being in fact a horse-racing term from the early 19th century. Any jockey who had been paid to lose an event by race fixers, but who then found himself in the lead, would cross himself twice as he passed the winning post as a prayer to God for forgiveness for his double deception by accepting the bribe to lose and then winning the race. He might also have added a third cross to pray the race fixers weren’t waiting for him when he got home for his tea.

Another possible origin for the term, and one that I prefer, relates to the  doings of an 18th-century bounty hunter by the name of Jonathan Wilde. Legend has it that Wilde kept a book with the names listed of all the criminals and wanted men throughout England. He formed an underground information network and would pay or protect any criminal who provided him with information of the whereabouts of another. In this way, Wilde would apprehend and turn over wanted men to the authorities for a fee. Each of these informers had a cross placed next to their name in the book of thieves. Once a man was no longer useful to Wilde, or began to refuse to give information, the Thief Taker General would place a second cross against his name and then turn him in for the bounty money. However, Wilde also used to blackmail men to steal for him and even to murder rivals, so inevitably he was eventually double crossed himself, turned in and hanged for his crimes.

via To Double Cross (Origins of Phrases) | Albert Jack.


How uplifting to discover a female artist from history about whom I knew nothing. Thank you, Regency History.

Anne Seymour Damer after Angelica Kauffman (c1800)

Anne Seymour Damer
after Angelica Kauffman (c1800)

Profile

Anne Seymour Damer (1749-1828) was an English sculptor and author. She was a cousin of Horace Walpole and in his will, he left her a life interest in his Twickenham home, Strawberry Hill.

Family background

Anne Seymour Conway was born on 8 November 1749 in Sevenoaks, Kent. She was the only child of Henry Seymour Conway, a Field Marshal in the British army and Whig MP, and his wife Caroline, daughter of John Campbell, 4th Duke of Argyll, and widow of the 3rd Earl of Ailesbury.

Anne lived with her family at Park Place, Remenham, near Henley-on-Thames. Her father’s secretary, David Hume, encouraged her to develop her skills in sculpture.

An unhappy marriage

On 14 June 1767, Anne married the Honourable John Damer, but the marriage was not happy. They separated after seven years and on 15 August 1776, Anne’s husband committed suicide, leaving huge…

via Regency History.


Actonbooks

Child abduction is a terrible heart wrenching crime, pure and simple. You let the child out of sight for a second and your baby never comes back. At least one thing’s for sure. At home — right there in front of your eyes — they are safe.pope2Well, that’s what Mr and Mrs Mortara thought, until the pope came and stole their son, with logic that would defy Kafka.

Three things counted against the Mortaras. The first mistake was that they lived in Bologna. The second was that it was the year 1858. Nowadays, kidnapping of small boys is not on the papal agenda (despite what parish priests have been doing). At that time though, the law was on the pope’s side. Well, papal law was and that was what worked in Bologna. This was before Italy’s unification and Bologna was situated one of the Papal States.

The third strike…

View original post 518 more words


The Palace Theatre of Varieties
The Palace Theatre of Varieties

Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards
Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards

Both of these designs are adapted from my original late 19th century music hall playbills for the Palace Theatre of Varieties, ‘The Handsomest Music Hall in Europe’.

This London theatre was originally built as a venue for opera by Richard D’Oyly Carte but only one opera – Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe – was ever produced.  The theatre was renamed the Palace Theatre in 1911, a name it retains to this day.

Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card
Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card


‘Without music life would be a mistake.’
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Taken from original copper-plate engravings for Mr Pug’s Visit; or, the Disasters of Mr. Punch, published in 1806 by J. Harris ‘on the corner of St. Paul’s Church Yard’. Isn’t that a delightful address?

Click here for more of the battling couple.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Although this engraving by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin is available online in the public domain, mine is actually a scan from an original print published as Plate 69 of Microcosm of London (1810) which my parents had bought from a local antique dealer in the 1960s.

I have not been able to discover what’s being performed but it looks something of a spectacular production what with the horse and carriage, the Boadicea-like figure and gigantic pillars! If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

While the following quote is not from the early 19th century, it describes what Sadler’s Wells had become by the 1840s:

‘Without, the theatre, by night, was like the worst part of the worst kind of Fair in the worst kind of town. Within, it was a bear-garden, resounding with foul language, oaths, catcalls, shrieks, yells, blasphemy, obscenity – a truly diabolical clamour. Fights took place anywhere, at any period of the performance… Sickly children in arms were squeezed out of shape, in all parts of the house. Fish was fried at the entrance doors. Barricades of oyster shells encumbered the pavement. Expectant half-price visitors to the gallery, howled defiant impatience up the stairs, and danced a sort of Carmagnole all round the building.’

A description in Household Words, October 1851, of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in the 1840s, cited by Claire Tomalin in her book,  The Invisible Woman. Tomalin writes of the theatre as being in a state of ‘Hogarthian brutishness’.

Incidentally, if you haven’t read The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, it is a riveting read about the actress who became the mistress of Charles Dickens.

There is also a new film version starring Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014].

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A story is told that in 1806 a man goes to visit a doctor who is acclaimed for his ability to treat melancholia. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep,” says the man. “I feel constantly miserable.  Please help me, doctor.”

“Laughter is the best medicine, my friend,” says the doctor. “Take yourself off to Covent Garden Theatre* where you will find The Great Grimaldi performing in Harlequin and Mother Goose; or the Golden Egg. It is exquisitely funny and will cure you of all your ills without any pills or potions from my cabinet.”

The man looks at the doctor for a moment.  “Ah,” he says. “That won’t help.”

“Why not, sir?”

The man shrugs. “I am Grimaldi.”

Grimaldi in 1819 by J.E.T. Robinson

Grimaldi in 1819 by J.E.T. Robinson

Apocryphal or no, I have little doubt the story’s origins go much further back. It would not surprise me if it was first told in Ancient Greece about an actor performing in one of Aristophanes’ comedies. It is a tale that has been attached to several comedians since, not least Dan Leno, whose depression was also legendary.

Joseph Grimaldi came from a line of Italian dancers and performers but was born and brought up in London. It is he we have to thank for the prominence of clowns in entertainment and for British pantomime existing in the form it does. A master craftsman when it came to performing in Commedia dell’Arte, an Italian style that became popular in the 16th century, Grimaldi’s antics in 19th-century Harlequinades transformed the clowning to such an extent that the clown ended up replacing the character of Harlequin.

The It’s Behind You site says this about his performance in the doctor-recommended Harlequin and Mother Goose:

The lack of great theatrical scenes allowed Grimaldi to project himself to the fore ‘he shone with unimpeded brilliance’ once critic wrote. Another marvelled at his performance ‘whether he robbed a pieman, opened an oyster, rode a giant carthorse, imitated a sweep, grasped a red-hot poker……. in all this he was extravagantly natural!’

Next time you go to a Christmas pantomime and sing along, think back to The Great Grimaldi for it was he whose comic songs were so popular that they became a permanent fixture in pantomime.  And if you’ve ever wondered why clowns are so often called Joey, think again of Grimaldi.

Grimaldi by John Cawse

Grimaldi by John Cawse

Andrew McConnell Stott, who has recently written a biography of Grimaldi — The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain’s Greatest Comedian — writes:

The audience was in hysterics. Grimaldi had been their idol since he first came to prominence in 1806, having been thrust into the highest sphere of celebrity with a virtuoso comic performance in the original production of Mother Goose, a show that took record profits and ran for longer than any other pantomime in history. Its success brought him national recognition, enormous fees, and a social circle that included Lord Byron, Sarah Siddons, Edmund Kean, Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis and the entire Kemble family. The critics Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt sang his praises, the young Charles Dickens edited his Memoirs….”

Having retired in 1823 from ill-health and exhaustion — ‘I have overleaped myself’ — Grimaldi ran out of money in 1828, though he was then helped by a yearly pension of £100 from the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund, and various benefit performances were staged to help him.  He spent his remaining years in great pain from a body that he had pushed to the limit.

When he died in 1837, The London Illustrated News despaired that audiences would ever look upon his like again. It’s Behind You quotes from the periodical:

Grimaldi is dead and hath left no peer… We fear with him the spirit of pantomime has disappeared.

Joseph Grimaldi's grave

Joseph Grimaldi’s grave

Joseph Grimaldi is buried in the courtyard of St James’s Chapel in Pentonville and is commemorated every year on the first Sunday in February at the Holy Trinity Church in Dalston, The Clowns’ Church, with the Joseph Grimaldi Memorial Service. Since 1967, clowns have been able to attend the service wearing their costumes.

*Now The Royal Opera House

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Related articles

Edith Wharton

‘I am steeping myself in the nineteenth century . . . such a blessed relief from the turmoil and mediocrity of today – like taking a sanctuary in a mighty temple.’

via Edith Wharton: Seven Facts Outside Fiction | Interesting Literature

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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