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Elephants in a 13th-century manuscript. THE BRITISH LIBRARY/ROYAL 12 F XIII

The animals in the image above are elephants. They were drawn sometime around the 13th or 14th century in a medieval bestiary, a type of book that described animals large and small, real and fantastic. But to a modern eye, the line between the real and the imagined is…

Source: Why Did Medieval Artists Give Elephants Trunks That Look Like Trumpets? | Atlas Obscura


IMAGE: SSPL/GETTY IMAGES

Born in Switzerland in 1855, Otto Pfenninger moved to England in the 1880s, where he became a pioneer in the emerging field of color photography.In 1905, he designed and built a…

Source: Dreamlike color photos capture English beaches at the turn of the century


Abstract created in Photoshop with a couple of textures from 2 Lil’ Owls and a photochrom colour print from Wikimedia of an eel fisher’s hut on the Bore (Bure River) England, between 1890 and 1900.

It’s something a little different from my usual work. It was adding the textures from 2 Lil’ Owls that completely changed my original idea — yes, I had one in mind for once. I added one texture in Normal mode and overlaid it with another in Colour Burn before setting the original photograph to Soft Light. The resulting fire damage effect was far too appealing to me to let it go.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Wretched Richard's Almanac

September 6, 1939

Widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the Golden Age of book illustration, from 1900 until the start of the First World War, Arthur Rackham died on September 6, 1939. He was born 71 years earlier in London as one of 12 children. In 1884, at the age of 17, he was sent on an ocean voyage to Australia to improve his fragile health, accompanied by two aunts, and upon his return began studying part-time at the Lambeth School of Art.

His first book illustrations were published in 1893. He has illustrated such diverse works as Grimm Fairy Tales and Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland and Wagner’s ring cycle. Many of the works he illustrated are commonly referred to as the Arthur Rackham editions.

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ONE FROM THE ARCHIVE. In view of my recent posts about Maude Fealy, I thought it was time to reblog this article from 2012, partly because I have nothing else prepared!

First Night Design

As I have recently said on Facebook, whenever I sell a theatre-related design on whatever product, my heart leaps. Theatre is in my blood, partly because I spent over 30 years as an actress and partly because I was, as the saying goes, ‘born in a trunk’.  This theatre term used to mean that you were born on tour of theatrical parents and that while other babies spent their days and nights in cribs and prams, you spent yours sustained by the smell of greasepaint and curled up in the theatre’s wardrobe skip, either in the wings or one of  the dressing rooms.  Now it has the more general meaning of having theatrical parentage. I am reminded of another phrase, which was coined by the playwright Tom Robertson, as revealed by Clement Scott in The Drama of Yesterday and Today [Vol. I] (pub. Macmillan & Co, 1899), and of…

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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.


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.


One from the archive while I continue to enjoy the company of my beautiful niece.
Take care and keep laughing!
Sarah

First Night Design

Welcome to followers old and new and thank you for all your lovely ‘likes’!

Take the Cow by the HornsTake the Cow by the Horns © First Night Design

As soon as I saw this cow among the archives at The Library of Congress, I was smitten.  Wouldn’t you be?  Look at her eyes.  There’s an animal you wouldn’t dream of messing with but the expression is so direct that she holds you in her gaze without allowing you to look away.  I may have called the piece Take the Cow by the Horns but I would not recommend it!

Cow

I created the setting by adding a background from Asunder Ephemera and used Photoshop to adjust the colours and tones until I felt I had done her justice.

The cow has an interesting provenance, coming as she does from a scrapbook of illustrations that were collated by Hans Christian Andersen and A L Drewsen…

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You could have knocked me down with a feather, and all the other clichés, but I’ve read my first vampire novel and loved every minute of it!

L E Turner was looking for blog followers to read a proof copy of her book and, even though it was not my cup of tea, I offered myself up on the strength of the flash fiction on her blog.

About the Nature of the Creature is a compelling tale, written from the vantage point of Constance, whose human life is cut short during her Edwardian childhood in Bristol. After a back story the author doesn’t reveal fully until further on, we find her a century later settled in Egypt, at which point some unknown urge prompts her to return to the city of her birth.

She is faced with the changes wrought by a hundred years and the danger of a religious sect determined to eradicate her kind. There are rivalries and jealousies amongst her tribe and Constance realises it is she who has to find a way to overcome the dangers in the hope of survival.

One of the reasons I was drawn into this story is the humanity, if one can call it that, of the creatures – the good and the bad. For example, the last thing Constance desires is the death of another but the need for blood is how she is made; if she can therefore acquire blood without killing a human she will always choose thus. Turner manages to give her heroine human and vampiric qualities which don’t seem at odds. I started caring about Constance and urging her forward. I wanted her to be happy!

Turner is adept at pacing and knows exactly where to place her twists and turns of plot. Even in the best books, one can predict certain events. Not in this case. The author kept me on the edge of my seat to the extent that when my computer went down and had to be rushed to hospital where it stayed for a month, all I could think about was getting back to the story on my Kindle app!

The other characters, human or not, are as well-drawn as Constance, giving the story an edge that I suspect — generalisation warning — many bandwagon books do not. Turner’s knowledge of Bristolian history is lightly interwoven, giving a lovely Gothic depth to the piece.

Will my enjoyment make me pick up another novel about vampires? Probably not. It will, however, make me buy and read the sequel to About the Nature of the Creature, which Turner is currently writing.

The only criticism I have is that there were a number of typos and some erratic punctuation but I’m sure these were ironed out before publication.

Thank you, L E Turner, for sending me a copy!

Related

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


What a surprise! I created this design for the last World Cup and a lady has just bought the T-shirt. British football aficionados will recognise the quote — “They think it’s all over…it is now…” — as from the closing seconds  of Kenneth Wolstenholme‘s famous commentary given for the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final between England and Germany.  Yes, England won 4–2 after extra time  and there are still some people who haven’t stopped going on about it, which is rather sad.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Welcome to followers old and new and thank you for all your lovely ‘likes’!

As soon as I saw this cow among the archives at The Library of Congress, I was smitten.  Wouldn’t you be?  Look at her eyes.  There’s an animal you wouldn’t dream of messing with but the expression is so direct that she holds you in her gaze without allowing you to look away.  I may have called the piece Take the Cow by the Horns but I would not recommend it!

Cow

I created the setting by adding a background from Asunder Ephemera and used Photoshop to adjust the colours and tones until I felt I had done her justice.

The cow has an interesting provenance, coming as she does from a scrapbook of illustrations that were collated by Hans Christian Andersen and A L Drewsen to entertain Drewsen’s grandson Jonas.  These illustrations came from myriad sources — England, America and Germany — and were mounted and coloured. Anderson added his own rhymes to many of the pictures.

In the meantime…

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


As I have recently said on Facebook, whenever I sell a theatre-related design on whatever product, my heart leaps. Theatre is in my blood, partly because I spent over 30 years as an actress and partly because I was, as the saying goes, ‘born in a trunk’.  This theatre term used to mean that you were born on tour of theatrical parents and that while other babies spent their days and nights in cribs and prams, you spent yours sustained by the smell of greasepaint and curled up in the theatre’s wardrobe skip, either in the wings or one of  the dressing rooms.  Now it has the more general meaning of having theatrical parentage. I am reminded of another phrase, which was coined by the playwright Tom Robertson, as revealed by Clement Scott in The Drama of Yesterday and Today [Vol. I] (pub. Macmillan & Co, 1899), and of which I am very fond.  Robertson tells a story about a theatre child who has been “nursed on rose-pink and cradled in properties”.*  Aaah!

Imagine my delight, then, when a customer from the U.S. bought a collection of theatrical greeting cards,  which I created from my archive of vintage postcards.  Yesterday, I was thrilled anew by a slew of similar images selling to a British customer. Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards

Palace Theatre of Varieties

Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card 

Varieties & Novelties
Both the above are from original late 19th century music hall playbills for the Palace Theatre of Varieties, ‘The Handsomest Music Hall in Europe’. It 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.

Dame Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), mother of the actor Robert Morley and grandmother of the late theatre critic and writer, Sheridan Morley.
Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905), the first actor to be knighted.
Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Queen Guinevere in King Arthur at the Lyceum Theatre in 1895
Montage of several late 19th century and early 20th century British actresses.
Top row: Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Irene Vanbrugh (1872-1949), Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), Gabrielle Ray (1883-1973)
Middle Row: Ellaline Terris (1872-1971), Mary Moore (1861-1931), Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Ellen Terry (1847-1928)
Bottom Row: Pauline Chase (1885-1962), Phyllis Broughton (1862 -1926), Phyllis Neilson-Terry (1892-1977), Isabel Jay (1879 – 1927)
Julia Neilson (1863-1957) and Mr Henry Ainley (1879-1945) in Henry of Navarre (1908). Taken from Play Pictorial, an early 20th century equivalent of today’s Theatregoer.

Take care and keep laughing.

About Sarah & First Night Design

*Rose-pink is a lighting gel for the stage; properties are the ‘props’ used by the actors in a production such as a newspaper, a table lighter or a book.

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