Dec 5, 2011

Bubbles, painted by John Everett Millais

Bubbles are playful and mesmerizing, but in 17th Century Dutch art they conveyed a serious meaning; the fragility of life. Peter Sion used them in his still life below. The hourglass, pocket-watch, wilting flowers, and extinguishing candle all allude to what the skull blatantly implies; death.

Vanitas Still Life, Peter Sion

But looking at Millais darling painting, originally titled, A Child's World can the subject really be the same? Although its likely the majority of Victorians only saw the charm and innocence on the surface (as I originally did) there are clues in the painting that imply it is. On each side of the boy are pots. One has a growing plant, fresh and green. The other is broken, empty with crisp leaves and some twigs on the ground near it.

Bubbles, by John Everett Millais

The little curly haired sitter was Millais grandson, who later grew up to be Admiral Sir William Milbourne James. He is gazing at the bubble which teeters between the two sides. When scarlet fever was a greatly feared illness and took the lives of many children, it's possible the painting implies how even at such a tender age life is just as delicate.

Detail

Pears' Soap later purchased the original painting and copyright. There's some conflicting information whether Millais was consulted or not but a little bar of soap was added in reproductions used for advertisement. For which he was harshly critisized by Marie Corelli:

I am one of those who think the fame of Millais as an artist was marred when he degraded himself to the level of painting the little green boy blowing bubbles of Pears' soap. That was an advertisement. And that very incident in his career, trifling though it seems, will prevent his ever standing on the same dignified height of distinction with such masters in art as Romney, Sir Peter Lely, Gainsborough, and Reynolds.

The company were within their legal rights and while it caused some controversy, Millais accepted it; he really couldn't do otherwise. The painting became so well-known that the little sitter was nicknamed 'Bubbles' within the Navy.


Knowing it's background I do still like the painting. But where before I saw his gaze at the bubble as fascination I now percieve a bit of anxiety. I think it's interesting that Millais chose to attire him in costume, it looks perhaps 16th century?


What do you think of the painting? Has knowing it's history and symbolism altered your view of it too?

Sources


"John Everett Millais's "Bubbles" and the Commercialization of Art." The Victorian Web: An Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2011. <http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/corelli/kuehn6.html>.  

"Liverpool museums - 'Bubbles' , by Sir John Everett Millais | Artwork of the Month ." Liverpool museums - National Museums Liverpool. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=7&id=299>.

Nov 4, 2011

Announcing: A Classics Challenge

The Challenge

Read seven works of Classic Literature in 2012
Only three of the seven may be re-reads

How Does it Work?

I've organized this challenge to work a little like a blog hop. I hope this will make it more interactive and enjoyable for everyone.

Instead of writing a review as you finish each book (of course, you can do that too), visit November's Autumn on the 4th of each month from January 2012 - December 2012.

You will find a prompt, it will be general enough that no matter which Classic you're reading or how far into it, you will be able to answer. There will be a form for everyone to link to their post. I encourage everyone to read what other participants have posted.

  • What if I'm still reading the same book as last month? That's ok!
  • What if I'm not reading something for this challenge during one of the months? You can choose to either skip that prompt or answer about the Classic you've most recently read.

Join the Challenge

Anyone who loves to read and has a blog is invited
You can join at anytime

  1. Write a post on your blog with a list of the seven works you hope to read in 2012 and why you chose them-- but don't feel bound by the list. 
  2. Please include a link back to this page in your post, so others can learn about the challenge and join us. 
  3. Fill out the form at the bottom, linking to your post.
  4. Check back on the 4th of each month.

If you need a little help choosing what to read, Wikipedia has a few lists here.
If you have any questions please let me know!

Participants


Oct 14, 2011

About Anne Bronte, part one - Upbringing

74 Market Street in Thornton, the birthplace of Anne
Photo © Paul Glazzard
Born January 17, 1820 Anne was the youngest of the Bronte family. Her Irish father, Patrick, came from a humble peasant background but rose through self-education until he won a place at St. John's College in Cambridge where he studied the ministry.

Her mother Maria Bramwell came from a comfortable merchant family and after the death of her parents had gone to help her Aunt Jane and Uncle John at a new Methodist school, Woodhouse Grove [photo].

Patrick Bronte was invited to serve as an examiner at the school. His determination and intelligence and her industrious nature struck a chord with each-other and they married three months later.

Their family is something of a literary legend. They had six children, Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Bramwell, Emily, and Anne. Shortly after Anne's birth the Rev. Bronte took a stable position as perpetual curate of Haworth Parsonage.

Among the wild landscape they settled into what remained their home for life albeit one where they would experience many hardships. The first being the illness of their mother, it's believed she suffered from cancer.

Her sister Elizabeth came to nurse her and help the family. The Rev. must have been tormented at the possibility of losing all his family when the children contracted Scarlet Fever. They survived, but their mother did not.

Aunt Elizabeth was a stern lady who seemed to have rarely shown tenderness to any except Anne, who was her favorite. Perhaps this would played a role in the friction Charlotte seemed to harbor over Anne.

Haworth Parsonage, the Bronte home
Photo © Daily Mail
In 1824 the four elder daughters were sent to school in Lancashire. Maria and Elizabeth contracted TB and died of consumption. The Rev. quickly removed Charlotte and Emily from the school and decided to educate them at home for the time being.

Although only four, the loss of her sisters left a great void. It affected Charlotte and Emily deeply. But she was an astute little girl, it's said one day when her father asked her what a child wanted most she answered "age and experience."

The moors near Haworth
Photo © Rob Glover
One year Bramwell was given a set of toy soldiers, which they named the twelves and created a country in Africa called Angria. Creating maps and watercolors of landscapes.

They invented characters and stories of the people who lived there. When Anne was about eleven she and Emily broke away from Angria and created another place, Gondal. The two were inseparable:

... bound up in their lives and interests like twins. The former from reserve, the latter from timidity, avoided all friendships and intimacies beyond their sisters.
Emily was impervious to influence; she never came in contact with public opinion, and her own decision of what was right and fitting was a law for her conduct and appearance, with which she allowed no one to interfere. Her love was poured out on Anne, as Charlotte's was on her.
- Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte in turn spent much time with Bramwell, but was then sent to Roe Head school where she later became a teacher, her salary mostly paying for Emily to now study there. It was a hard transition for Emily. As her writing later implied she was a person of extreme emotions and the turmoil of her homesickness made her physically ill. She was brought back home and Anne sent in her place.


Dec 5, 2011

Bubbles, painted by John Everett Millais

Bubbles are playful and mesmerizing, but in 17th Century Dutch art they conveyed a serious meaning; the fragility of life. Peter Sion used them in his still life below. The hourglass, pocket-watch, wilting flowers, and extinguishing candle all allude to what the skull blatantly implies; death.

Vanitas Still Life, Peter Sion

But looking at Millais darling painting, originally titled, A Child's World can the subject really be the same? Although its likely the majority of Victorians only saw the charm and innocence on the surface (as I originally did) there are clues in the painting that imply it is. On each side of the boy are pots. One has a growing plant, fresh and green. The other is broken, empty with crisp leaves and some twigs on the ground near it.

Bubbles, by John Everett Millais

The little curly haired sitter was Millais grandson, who later grew up to be Admiral Sir William Milbourne James. He is gazing at the bubble which teeters between the two sides. When scarlet fever was a greatly feared illness and took the lives of many children, it's possible the painting implies how even at such a tender age life is just as delicate.

Detail

Pears' Soap later purchased the original painting and copyright. There's some conflicting information whether Millais was consulted or not but a little bar of soap was added in reproductions used for advertisement. For which he was harshly critisized by Marie Corelli:

I am one of those who think the fame of Millais as an artist was marred when he degraded himself to the level of painting the little green boy blowing bubbles of Pears' soap. That was an advertisement. And that very incident in his career, trifling though it seems, will prevent his ever standing on the same dignified height of distinction with such masters in art as Romney, Sir Peter Lely, Gainsborough, and Reynolds.

The company were within their legal rights and while it caused some controversy, Millais accepted it; he really couldn't do otherwise. The painting became so well-known that the little sitter was nicknamed 'Bubbles' within the Navy.


Knowing it's background I do still like the painting. But where before I saw his gaze at the bubble as fascination I now percieve a bit of anxiety. I think it's interesting that Millais chose to attire him in costume, it looks perhaps 16th century?


What do you think of the painting? Has knowing it's history and symbolism altered your view of it too?

Sources


"John Everett Millais's "Bubbles" and the Commercialization of Art." The Victorian Web: An Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2011. <http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/corelli/kuehn6.html>.  

"Liverpool museums - 'Bubbles' , by Sir John Everett Millais | Artwork of the Month ." Liverpool museums - National Museums Liverpool. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=7&id=299>.

Nov 4, 2011

Announcing: A Classics Challenge

The Challenge

Read seven works of Classic Literature in 2012
Only three of the seven may be re-reads

How Does it Work?

I've organized this challenge to work a little like a blog hop. I hope this will make it more interactive and enjoyable for everyone.

Instead of writing a review as you finish each book (of course, you can do that too), visit November's Autumn on the 4th of each month from January 2012 - December 2012.

You will find a prompt, it will be general enough that no matter which Classic you're reading or how far into it, you will be able to answer. There will be a form for everyone to link to their post. I encourage everyone to read what other participants have posted.

  • What if I'm still reading the same book as last month? That's ok!
  • What if I'm not reading something for this challenge during one of the months? You can choose to either skip that prompt or answer about the Classic you've most recently read.

Join the Challenge

Anyone who loves to read and has a blog is invited
You can join at anytime

  1. Write a post on your blog with a list of the seven works you hope to read in 2012 and why you chose them-- but don't feel bound by the list. 
  2. Please include a link back to this page in your post, so others can learn about the challenge and join us. 
  3. Fill out the form at the bottom, linking to your post.
  4. Check back on the 4th of each month.

If you need a little help choosing what to read, Wikipedia has a few lists here.
If you have any questions please let me know!

Participants


Oct 14, 2011

About Anne Bronte, part one - Upbringing

74 Market Street in Thornton, the birthplace of Anne
Photo © Paul Glazzard
Born January 17, 1820 Anne was the youngest of the Bronte family. Her Irish father, Patrick, came from a humble peasant background but rose through self-education until he won a place at St. John's College in Cambridge where he studied the ministry.

Her mother Maria Bramwell came from a comfortable merchant family and after the death of her parents had gone to help her Aunt Jane and Uncle John at a new Methodist school, Woodhouse Grove [photo].

Patrick Bronte was invited to serve as an examiner at the school. His determination and intelligence and her industrious nature struck a chord with each-other and they married three months later.

Their family is something of a literary legend. They had six children, Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Bramwell, Emily, and Anne. Shortly after Anne's birth the Rev. Bronte took a stable position as perpetual curate of Haworth Parsonage.

Among the wild landscape they settled into what remained their home for life albeit one where they would experience many hardships. The first being the illness of their mother, it's believed she suffered from cancer.

Her sister Elizabeth came to nurse her and help the family. The Rev. must have been tormented at the possibility of losing all his family when the children contracted Scarlet Fever. They survived, but their mother did not.

Aunt Elizabeth was a stern lady who seemed to have rarely shown tenderness to any except Anne, who was her favorite. Perhaps this would played a role in the friction Charlotte seemed to harbor over Anne.

Haworth Parsonage, the Bronte home
Photo © Daily Mail
In 1824 the four elder daughters were sent to school in Lancashire. Maria and Elizabeth contracted TB and died of consumption. The Rev. quickly removed Charlotte and Emily from the school and decided to educate them at home for the time being.

Although only four, the loss of her sisters left a great void. It affected Charlotte and Emily deeply. But she was an astute little girl, it's said one day when her father asked her what a child wanted most she answered "age and experience."

The moors near Haworth
Photo © Rob Glover
One year Bramwell was given a set of toy soldiers, which they named the twelves and created a country in Africa called Angria. Creating maps and watercolors of landscapes.

They invented characters and stories of the people who lived there. When Anne was about eleven she and Emily broke away from Angria and created another place, Gondal. The two were inseparable:

... bound up in their lives and interests like twins. The former from reserve, the latter from timidity, avoided all friendships and intimacies beyond their sisters.
Emily was impervious to influence; she never came in contact with public opinion, and her own decision of what was right and fitting was a law for her conduct and appearance, with which she allowed no one to interfere. Her love was poured out on Anne, as Charlotte's was on her.
- Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte in turn spent much time with Bramwell, but was then sent to Roe Head school where she later became a teacher, her salary mostly paying for Emily to now study there. It was a hard transition for Emily. As her writing later implied she was a person of extreme emotions and the turmoil of her homesickness made her physically ill. She was brought back home and Anne sent in her place.


© November's Autumn
Maira Gall