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Dame Ellen Terry as Volumnia in Coriolanus Card

This signed photograph of Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Volumnia in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus is a treasured possession, left to me by the actress Rosamund Burne [? – 1975]. Ros was a close friend of my mother, Benedicta Leigh — both had worked together on stage in the Midlands during the late forties and early fifties. They remained friends until Ros died ‘in harness’ in 1975 while playing Queen Mary in a production of Crown Matrimonial by Royce Ryton.

Contained in a weathered, black leather frame, the photograph provides an evocative link to a long-gone generation of actors. Sadly, I have no knowledge of the picture’s provenance, other than that it was mounted and framed by art dealers and frame makers T & R Annan and Sons, established in Glasgow by photographer Thomas Annan in 1855.

It is addressed to “Winnie – In affectionate remembrance of Ellen Terry – 1902” but who was ‘Winnie’? Was she an admiring member of the audience, a fellow actress, a theatrical landlady, perhaps?

The phrase “affectionate remembrance” suggests a reasonably close association. Could it possibly be Miss Winifred Emery (1861-1024) who, wrote Miss Terry in her memoirs (The Story of My Life – Recollections & Reflections), “came to us for The Belle’s Stratagem and played the part that I had played years before at the Haymarket. She was bewitching, and in her white wig in the ball-room, beautiful as well. She knew how to bear herself on the stage instinctively, and could dance a minuet to perfection. The daughter of Sam Emery, a great comedian in a day of comedians, and the granddaughter of the Emery, it was not surprising that she should show aptitude for the stage.”

Photograph of Winifred Emery with her children

Photograph of Winifred Emery with her children (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Winifred Emery married Cyril Maude who was famous for his ability in light comedies from the pens of such as Frederick Lonsdale. Though born in 1862, Maude was still working as late as 1947, appearing as the Old Admiral in the film version of Rattigan’s While the Sun Shines, directed by Anthony Asquith.

Could Ros Burne have met or worked with either Winifred or Cyril and been given the picture by ‘Winnie’ herself if, indeed, this is the correct Winifred? It is just possible, even though Winifred died in 1924, for Ros was born in the early years of the 20th century and had not, to my knowledge, even reached the age of twenty when she started learning the ropes under the watchful eye of Lilian Baylis at the Old Vic.

I may never discover the full story behind the framed photograph but nothing can diminish the joy I take in its possession.

What is without doubt is that the signature is genuine and that Ellen Terry played Volumnia at the Lyceum Theatre in London in 1901 opposite Sir Henry Irving as Coriolanus. Her diary entry for 16 April, one of several recorded in her memoirs, reads: “The critics who wrote their notices at the dress-rehearsal, and complained of my playing pranks with the text, were a little premature. Oh, how bad it makes one feel to find that they all think my Volumnia ‘sweet’, and I thought I was fierce, contemptuous, overbearing. Worse, I felt as if I must be appearing like a cabman rating his Drury Lane wife!” By 20 April, however, she feels she is “beginning to play Volumnia a little better.”

The actress later comments on parents in Shakespeare’s plays: “How many times Shakespeare draws fathers and daughters, and how little stock he seems to take of mothers! Portia and Desdemona, Cordelia, Rosalind and Miranda, Lady Macbeth, Queen Katherine and Hermione, Ophelia, Jessica, Hero, and many more are daughters of fathers, but of their mothers we hear nothing. My own daughter called my attention to this fact quite recently, and it is really a singular fact. Of mothers of sons there are plenty of examples: Constance, Volumnia, the Countess Roussillon, Gertrude; but if there are mothers of daughters at all, they are poor examples, like Juliet’s mother and Mrs. Page.”

She goes on to wonder “if in all the many hundreds of books written on Shakespeare and his plays this point has been taken up?” Having once written a paper on ‘Letters in Shakespeare’s Plays’, which she had thought to be the first of its kind, she was given a rude awakening when she received a letter from a lady from Oxford who said she was “mistaken in thinking that there was no other contribution to the subject”. Enclosed was an essay of the lady’s own which led the actress to conclude that someone must have already addressed “Shakespeare’s patronage of fathers and neglect of mothers!” She wonders what the mothers of Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia were like: “I think Lear must have married twice.”

Sarah Vernon © 29-04-05

  • This is a revised version of an article first published on the Rogues & Vagabonds website 29-04-05 and transferred to the R&V blog on 29-03-13
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Inspired by Edward Steichen’s portrait of Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson covered in lace (Museum of Modern Art).

Orientation: Postcard

Create your own vacation-worthy postcards right here. Any view you’ve seen, any monument you’ve fallen in love with, can all be added to our postcards with our personalization tool. Craft touching, hand-written correspondence while on your next road trip!

  • Dimensions: 4.25″ x 5.6″ (portrait) or 5.6″ x 4.25″ (landscape)
  • Full color CMYK print process
  • Double sided printing for no additional cost
  • Postage rate: $0.34
Paper Type: Semi-Gloss

A thin, smooth paper designed for photo printing with the optimal color vibrancy —a solid choice for all your printing needs.

  • Bright white, semi-gloss finish
  • Semi-gloss finish helps photos pop
  • 40% post-consumer content
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: Hollywood Vintage Gloria Postcard | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I’m feeling less than divine at the moment but I hope you enjoy this exquisite image of my namesake which you can buy as cards, postcards and posters.

The great French stage actress of the late 19th century, Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923).

Orientation: Postcard

Create your own vacation-worthy postcards right here. Any view you’ve seen, any monument you’ve fallen in love with, can all be added to our postcards with our personalization tool. Craft touching, hand-written correspondence while on your next road trip!

  • Dimensions: 4.25″ x 5.6″ (portrait) or 5.6″ x 4.25″ (landscape)
  • Full colour CMYK print process
  • Double sided printing for no additional cost
  • Postage rate: $0.34

Paper Type: Matte

The most popular paper choice, Matte’s eggshell texture is soft to the touch with a smooth finish that provides the perfect backdrop for your chosen designs.

  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
  • Paper is easy to write on and won’t smudge
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: The Divine Sarah Postcard | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


e395blog copy

Since the above isn’t the kind of work I normally do, I’m not at all sure whether the image is effective. It’s part of a photograph of a rose I took a few days ago. It wasn’t actually snowing — I was inside — but I ‘painted’ it in Corel Painter and purposely left the specks of white as if there had been a gentle sprinkling of snow…or does it look like dandruff? I finished it off with a texture by Kerstin Frank. Does it have any appeal?


“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I’m delighted with the effect of a Kerstin Frank texture on my photograph of a run-down shed in my friend’s garden!

Abandoned Hideaway Throw Pillow
Abandoned Hideaway Throw Pillow by FirstNightDesign

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


It’s time for another of my Edward Steichen-like Hollywood makeovers. When I’m in need of some glamour, I head straight for the silent movie headshots of the 1920s, especially as found on Hello Tuesday at Deviant Art, which is where I discovered this photograph of Louise Brooks.


“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it; nor kept anything without wishing I had given it away.”
Louise Brooks


Some of you may remember that I was originally inspired by Edward Steichen’s famous photograph of actress Gloria Swanson covered in lace (Museum of Modern Art).  I’ve already done one such of Louise Brooks and this is ‘Take 2’!

In what one might say is now time-honoured fashion, I overlaid Brooks with this lace effect vintage wallpaper from MGB-Stock.


“Most beautiful dumb girls think they are smart and get away with it, because other people, on the whole, aren’t much smarter.”
Louise Brooks


For more Hollywood Tattoo makeovers, click here.

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


Venetian Harbour, Chania © Sarah Vernon

Venetian Harbour, Chania © Sarah Vernon

This photograph of the Venetian Harbour in Chania, Crete, was taken by me on this occasion and not Mr FND! My idea was to create a watercolour with the gentle lines of a preparatory drawing showing through.

My first layer was the bluewatercolor from Angie Makes in Photoshop’s Normal mode. This I followed with the Beguiling-18 texture from 2 Lil’ Owls in Linear Burn. As you can see, I’m getting a lot of mileage out of those two backgrounds! Next came the Venetian Harbour which I put in Screen mode. To create the line drawing, I used the Trace Contour tool; this is not the best tool in the world but since I wanted the bare minimum showing, I knew it could work. To top it off, I used another 2 Lil’ Owls texture, 2LO Confetti 8. Putting the latter in Multiply mode was the perfect finishing touch.

The original harbour photograph © Sarah Vernon

The original harbour photograph © Sarah Vernon

The last time I tried to create a watercolour effect with this photo — some years ago now — it was disastrous and very obviously ‘Photoshopped’ using their ‘watercoloor’ tool. Not a good idea. I’m much happier this time round!

Incidentally, the mosque in the centre of the picture is the Mosque of the Janissaries, now an art gallery. If you ever find yourself in the harbour, by all means have a drink but don’t, whatever you do, eat a meal. The quality is appalling and you would be better off going up the side streets to find good, authentic food. Most important of all, avoid the taverna that sells very pink and very green cocktails — coloured fizzy water at best! We were each offered one for free having allowed the owner to do a quick run round the harbour on my mobility scooter. Never again!

Here, for your delectation, is a recipe for what looks and sounds like an excellent green cocktail from MyBestCocktails.com:

minttu

Minttu

Ingredients
1 oz Malibu Rum
1 oz Cuban Rum
1 oz Batida de Coco
2/3 oz Midori
1 oz Pineapple Juice
6 leaves Mint Leaves

  1. Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
  2. Pour into a tall glass with some ice.
  3. Enjoy!

No, I’ve never come across Midori either!

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


ONE FROM THE ARCHIVE — OCTOBER 2013

Originally posted on First Night Design.

Tangle Mountain © First Night Design

Tangle Mountain © First Night Design

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

So says Ratty to Mole in the first chapter of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale, only to  crash straight into the river bank.  Ah, bliss.

I feel much the same when it comes to messing about with photographs and textures to create something unique. Sometimes I crash; sometimes something wonderful and unexpected happens.  Such was the case with Tangle Mountain.

I began with this intriguing photograph of a castle in Liechtenstein by Karpati Gabor downloaded from Morguefile. I was particularly struck by the seemingly painted effect of the land and castle. The latter looks as though it has come from a Tim Burton animation.

Morguefile

Often I will try countless photographs and textures before…


Captain Norman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Poor Norman.

Such a commonplace death.  Shot by a single sniper. Youngest child, only son.  Three sisters and a father left to grieve along with so many other fathers, mothers, sisters…

Continue reading: Great Uncle Norman: ‘shot by a single sniper’ | First Night Design.


Update 21-10-14: Alas, the Wilde family have very strict control of their famous forebear’s work and this wonderful image has not been allowed so is no longer for sale at my Zazzle vintage store.

Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony 1882 © First Night Vintage

Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony 1882 

New to my vintage store on Zazzle is this glorious sepia photograph of the inimitable Oscar Wilde. It was taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony and hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was able to use it as the image is in the public domain on Wikimedia.


“Ah, every day dear Herbert becomes de plus en plus Oscarié. It is a wonderful case of nature imitating art.” Wilde commenting on actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s unwitting acquisition of certain on-stage character traits in a Wilde play in his off-stage life.


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah



One from the archives.

First Night Design

e159blog

My latest abstract is the result of a happy accident.  I began with the idea of creating a faux vintage picture with an animal, in other words, something along the lines of the image below (genuine vintage).

img-thing

But as soon as I blended a background from Textures of Italy and a photograph of a goat that I took a couple of years ago, I was so delighted by the shapes, textures and colours, that I wanted go no further.

I have no doubt I’ll be doing my faux vintage animal in the near future, though.

Take care and keep laughing!

About Sarah & First Night Design

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A post from 2011.

First Night Design

Lucia Whitaker

My great-grandmother, Lucia, was a gently beautiful woman.  I have late Victorian photographs to show me just how charming she was to look at and last week I created an image with her as the centrepiece.  This particular photograph (below), which admittedly stands on its own, was exquisitely hand-tinted.

Being me, however, I wanted to embellish it!  I used my own textures and backgrounds alongside one from The Graphics Fairy and one from Deviant Art.

Lucia died in 1906 when she was in her 40s. There is some mystery about how she died. My mother used to imagine that Lucia had had a riding accident since she found the idea so romantic. I obtained Lucia’s death certificate from Somerset House but the writing is too spidery to transcribe and be certain of the cause.  Her name suggests there was an Italian connection in the family but I…

View original post 238 more words


Dorothy Parker

By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying —
Lady,  make a note of this:
One of you is lying.

The Collected Dorothy Parker

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Related articles

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Norman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Poor Norman.

Such a commonplace death.  Shot by a single sniper. Youngest child, only son.  Three sisters and a father left to grieve along with so many other fathers, mothers, sisters, wives, brothers, children.

“Poor Norman,” said my grandmother Joyce in the 1950s, and turned away so that her youngest son changed the subject.  Was she still, so many, many years later, too saddened by her brother’s death to talk or had he, for her, become nothing but a stereotyped photograph about whom she felt unable to talk?

A stereotyped photograph.  I have two in my possession, both of Norman in Army uniform. The round, boyish face of inexperience looks at me in the one [above]: a bland, almost formal, expression gives way to a makeshift confidence on closer inspection and, with arms folded, suggests a reluctance to be photographed.

In the other [below], he leans against a pillar with engaging insouciance; a cigarette holder, the ash about to drop, rests between sturdy fingers.  Three or four years, maybe less, separate the pictures. The poise in the latter cannot mask the face of a man who has experienced the muck and the noise, the unutterable panic and horror of trench warfare.

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

‘He was hit at four o’clock on the morning of 24th March 1918,’ wrote Joyce the following year.  ‘I felt that icy hand on my heart which I shall never now feel again.’   When I first read my grandmother’s words, I took her to mean that only her brother’s death could produce such an icy hand.  I look at the words now and see only that she felt her heart would never feel anything again.  Perhaps that is why she turned away from her son.

We will remember them.

Captain Norman Austin Taylor 1895-1918

@ALBerridge I thought you might enjoy this post about my great-uncle during #WWI http://t.co/p8CYYU8nRz

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

@FirstNightArt That’s beautifully written and very moving. No high drama, just the reality of human loss in a war. Great post – thank you.

— Louise Berridge (@ALBerridge) May 15, 2014

@ALBerridge I’m so glad you like it.

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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