Saturday, 28 March 2015

Fanny's Final Farewell

Just a quick update on the final chapter in the life of Fanny Cornforth.  I have just returned home after visiting Fanny's final resting place.

You will remember last week, in a rather emotional post about the final years of Fanny's life, I told you that Fanny was admitted to Graylingwell Asylum in Chichester, where she died in 1909. I then mistakenly stated that she was buried in the asylum grounds as there was no evidence of where she was buried, the local parish church had no record of her in their burials and the asylum I grew up near had its own graveyard for those poor souls without friends or family to claim them.  Katherine from the West Sussex Records Office contacted me on Tuesday and said that instead, she would have been buried in the Chichester District Cemetery if no-one had claimed her and so I approached Libby from Cemetery Services with the name 'Sarah Hughes' and her death date.

The Chichester cemetery main gates

Sarah Hughes was buried on 1st March 1909 in the cemetery, in plot 133/23. She is in a common grave, which means she's not alone in there and there is no stone.  She is in a peaceful corner of the graveyard, beyond the war memorial.  Actually finding her grave and placing some flowers on it felt that despite the best efforts of Rossetti's family and his biographers, her spirit has triumphed and she will be remembered as a muse, a woman capable of tremendous love and a real survivor. 


If anyone else wishes to pay their respects, drop me an email and I'll send you over the graveyard map.

Q&A with Robert Stephen Parry

You will remember from my post a couple of weeks ago one of my favourite authors, Robert Stephen Parry, published his latest novel. Set in the dark and mysterious Belle Epoque, The Hours Before is a story of a woman's search for the truth in the dangerous setting of pre-war Europe and very splendid it is too. So it was rather nice to be able to ask Mr Parry some questions about his new book and his writing in general....


Q. You move around eras in your novels, so what was it about the Edwardian, pre-War period that appealed to you for this specific story?

It saw the end of so much that was excellent, and the beginning of so much that was dreadful, and it all changed in the space of just a few short years with the so-called Great War. It is the sense of pathos attending those times that I find irresistible. The heroine of the story, meanwhile, is on the eve of her own great conflict – a decision that has to be made between vengeance and forgiveness. So there are lots of parallels in the story between geopolitical events and personal struggle, all of which are foreshadowed as the story unfolds.

Q. Do you have a favourite period in time?

No, not at all. Though I do often feel more comfortable in the past than the present - probably because there is so very much of the past to explore in comparison to the brief novelty of the ‘here and now.’ The present cannot exist without the past. And the future, likewise, cannot exist without the present. History is simply fascinating.

Q. There are elements of magic, superstition and signs in all your novels, how much do you ascribe to the mystical side of life?

Life is a range of experiences, a spectrum, like the colours on a rainbow. You can put rationality and sobriety at one end, and superstition and plain silliness at the other - ‘safe’ places out on the fringes, and it’s very easy to get stuck there. But writers and artists have to be free to go wherever their curiosity takes them, to any place in-between. Once you give yourself permission to do that, and once you realise it’s perfectly all right to be ‘any place in-between,’ you become aware of how extensive it all is, anyway, with so many doors to open and so many ideas to explore. I’ve taken a stroll through a few of them, that’s all. Inevitably that must colour ones writing.

 

Q. Many of your leading characters seem to be redeemed and made more sympathetic by hardship, thinking of Deborah Peters in The Hours Before, but also someone like Matthew Wildish as well – is that intentional?
Hardship can often result in evolution, and not just in terms of natural selection. Nobody ever became stronger or wiser by leading a life of indolence. Likewise with the characters in literature. If they are to evolve (as all good characters should, of course) then they have to challenge the circumstances in which they find themselves. They have to roll up their sleeves and get dirty; they have to ask questions and believe in something. We, as readers, take notice of them then. We admire their struggle, be it an emotional one, a physical one or even a spiritual one. I think the great Victorian artists and poets, the Pre-Raphaelites especially, were like that, too. They really did have a mission to step off the fringes where so many of their fellow citizens had long since taken permanent residence. Their mission was to ‘boldly go’ to all those spaces in-between, and much of what they created there is timeless and glorious.

Q. Your characters travel around Europe in ‘The Hours Before’, did you fancy a holiday from your normal setting of England? How many of the locations have you visited yourself?

The Belle Époque was a European-wide phenomenon, so to have just based the novel solely in the UK would have been rather a narrow choice. Paris and Vienna were places where the art nouveau styles and fashions really flourished - and many of the German cities also. And yes, I have spent some time in almost all the places mentioned in the novel. Vienna is my favourite, and it was a natural decision, therefore, to anchor the whole thing there in that great city. It was from there, at the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, that decisions were made that would signal the start of the first world war and the demise of the Belle Époque itself. Vienna was, in so many respects, the beginning and end of the whole thing - and so too, therefore, with the story.

Q. I find it fascinating to find out when and where other writers write. Do you have a special time and place for writing?


I write at home in my study/office, and usually late into the night (the night is wasted unless a writer uses it for work). In the summer, when the weather is good, I have a bench and table set up beneath the shade of an old yew tree. Long walks in the countryside, meanwhile, are ideal for inspiration and sorting things out with plots and characters.

Q. When you are not writing it, do you read much historical fiction?

A little, though not so much of the modern stuff these days. I prefer the oldies, the classics. If it is modern, then it has to be something quirky or unusual, something that does not conform to the usual run-of-the mill, genre-fiction bracket. Something brave and different.

Q. Is there a book you wish you had written?

The next one. I always wish I had written the next one already.

Q. Do you have any ideas of what you will write next?

After spending a good couple of years on ‘The Hours Before’ I rather think I’d like to chill out next with a nice short book. Perhaps a ‘whodunit’ – I’ve never tried that before, and it could be fun.

Many thanks to Robert for his time and such interesting answers. You can find his new novel here (Amazon UK) and here (USA). For some more art nouveau loveliness, join me in the week for a review of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery's new Mucha exhibition....

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Review: Sculpture Victorious

Here's the last in my trio of reviews after a particularly jam-packed day in London and it was the exhibition I was looking forward to the most...


The sculpture was an unexpected highlight of the Tate's Pre-Raphaelite exhibition a couple of years back and I adore seeing sculptures in museums (the Russell-Cotes have some gorgeous pieces).  It's hard to replicate experiencing three-dimensional works of art in a two-dimensional medium and so I was looking forward to getting up close and personal with some good pieces.

Teucer (1881) Hamo Thornycroft
The exhibition has had some really bad reviews, but then the Pre-Raphaelite one was slaughtered in the press, so I didn't think too much about it.  However, we went midday on a Saturday and there was only a handful of people in there.  It looked much like this...

Opening room in the exhibition, with images of Queen Victoria
Usually I don't like being squashed in with a million other people, shuffling along to see everything, but to be suddenly alone is also not exactly brilliant as you became aware of how little there is in some of the rooms.  The little exhibition booklet we received states 'Sculpture was everywhere during Victoria's reign' - well, I didn't exactly get that impression from the amount on display here...

A Royal Game (1906-11) William Reynolds-Stephens
Saying that, I loved most of the pieces selected and as I said before you cannot beat seeing them in real life.  Special mention has to go to a few pieces, such as A Royal Game showing Elizabeth I and King Philip of Spain playing chess with little ships. Gorgeously detailed and clever, it demonstrates historical sensibilities as well as the scale of vision we associate with the Victorians.

Veiled Vestal (1847) Raffaelle Monti
Detail of the face
Probably the most astonishing piece in terms of technical expertise has to be the famous Veiled Vestal.  Even looking at it in person it is hard to work out how the thin gauze was created from the solid block.  Your mind so easily trips back to thinking you are looking at a bust wrapped in fabric.  I must have stared at her for ages and goodness knows there wasn't anyone else waiting to move me on.

Dame Alice Owen (1897) George Frampton
Detail of the head
I have to say it is a wonderful exhibition because it is filled with beautiful objects.  I was always going to love it because I love the subject and it is a special opportunity to walk around the pieces. However our trip was coloured by the fact we were directed to go round the rooms in the wrong order so we ended our visit in (my opinion) the weakest room rather than the Craft and Art room which has the pieces that affected me the most, such as Dame Alice Owen. The contrast in the different materials, so effortlessly combining to make the figure of the seventeenth century founder of a charity school.  She was originally one of the daring 'tinted' pieces produced in the nineteenth century, her hair originally a golden colour.  

My main complaint was there were not enough pieces on show, but then I'm guess requesting to borrow a sculpture is a logistical nightmare.  On the plus side, my nine year old daughter was utterly hooked in the exhibition, she wanted to see everything and it was a wonderful exhibition for children, containing many whimsical pieces as well as figures.  However (and this isn't just a problem at this exhibition) some of the cases were too high for her to see into without my holding her up. On the whole I don't have much to add:  it's a nice show and good value for money if you see it in conjunction with Salt and Silver.  The chance to see the pieces I've given special mention to made it utterly worthwhile but I didn't feel as enthused by the show as I expected on the whole.






However, in preparation for the exhibition I requested a review copy of the exhibition catalogue and was delighted to receive the massive book in the post. It's not cheap, costing about £45 on Amazon, but you get value for money as it weighs a ton.  It has the depth and beauty that I really wanted from the exhibition, richly illustrated with 150 sculptures catalogued and scores of others in the figures.  Each sculpture is beautifully photographed and has thought-provoking text.  The catalogue made the appreciation of the objects easier, the context and background well-written and fascinating.  A problem with the exhibition was that the labels for the objects were sometimes not on or near the sculptures so we had to go looking for things like the Eglington Trophy information.  Obviously in a book that is not a problem.

St George and the Dragon Salt Cellar (1901) Edward Onslow Ford


It is indeed a lavish book (I do love the word 'lavish'), the illustrations taken from different angles to get around the obvious difficulty in appreciating three-dimensions.  I got a far better sense of a narrative in the 'story' of Victorian sculpture, together with a deeper sense of what the Tate were trying to achieve with their show.  In a way I wish I had received the catalogue before seeing the show as I may have gone in with a better sense of nineteenth century attitudes in this branch of the arts. Reading the catalogue made me want to go back to see the show, appreciating the pieces in a more in-depth way, which is what a good catalogue should do.  It also stands as a damn fine place to start finding out about Victorian sculpture, with a good bibliography, marvellous photography and well-written sections that match the rooms of the show.


If you have the chance, see the exhibition and get the catalogue; by the end of it you will have a definite idea of how innovative the Victorians were, and how they made such good use of new technologies, yet still reached back in their artistic heritage.

For further details of the exhibition, visit the website here.
For the catalogue, visit Amazon for a cheaper price than the Tate shop (and you won't have to carry it home from London).

Monday, 23 March 2015

Review: Sargent - Portraits of Artists and Friends

This is the second review from my trip to London, and it is my great pleasure to bring you John Singer Sargent at the National Portrait Gallery!


I have never been to a bad exhibition at the NPG, it is a very reliable pair of hands when it comes to crafting small, riveting exhibitions.  The V&A are going have to pull out some stops to beat the NPG's gorgeous Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition.  Anyway, back to Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends...

Madame Ramon Subercaseaux (1880)
Split over eight rooms, the exhibition shows many important figures in the world of the arts as seen through the unique portraiture of John Singer Sargent.  It is suggested that as he was rarely commissioned to paint formal portraits, choosing instead who he wished to portray, he was able to create works that reached further than mere likenesses to become works of art in their own right. Amalia Subercaseaux, wife of a Chilean diplomat and artist, faces you as you enter the exhibition and sets the standard for exactly how blown away you will be.  The above image does not do justice to how clear the white of her dress is and how the red burst vividly out.  The theme of music in Sargent's work is repeated later, but Amalia used to play while he painted her, the black and white of the instrument echoed in her dress.  The portrait itself was important in terms of his career as it earnt Sargent a second-class medal at the Salon of 1881 which meant he could exhibit at the Salon without having to submit to the jury.

Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife (1885)
I have to admit to always loving this image as it makes Stevenson look as if he was drawn by Quentin Blake.  This image has such an accidental look to it, like a snapshot, with the scant, rangy form of the author walking away from his wife, barely seen on the periphery. The picture contains tension (Fanny Stevenson doesn't look entirely pleased to be in the picture) and the mystery of the open doorway, bisecting the canvas and creating a bar between husband and wife.  It's odd, informal and modern and a surprising portrait of an author who was growing in fame.

Carolus-Duran (1879)
More traditional but no less engaging is Sargent's portrait of his teacher Carolus-Duran. Painted five years into Sargent's time with the charismatic master, it received an honorable mention at the Salon in the same year that Carolus-Duran won the medaille d'honneur.  I love the softness in the paint on the clothes compared to how sharply the eyes are fixed on the audience, really giving you a sense of the power of the teacher's personality and why Sargent held him in such esteem.

Portraits de MEP...et de Mlle LP (1881)
Among the portraits are a few of children and special mention has to go to perhaps the creepiest pair of kiddiwinks I have ever seen.  Even Lily-Rose stopped and said 'well, they're not right...' The two poppets are Edouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron.  Marie-Louise became a historian and author when she grew up and recounted no less than 83 sittings for the portrait with battles over hair and dress which might explain why the children look so malevolent.  I have the copy of Turn of the Screw which has this as the cover image, and it is perfect as there are just so many disquietening notes in the picture - the slightly awkward hand positions, the little girl's torque bracelet and her brother's sneering expression.  Marvellously odd.

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1885-6)
Far less chilling is this image and predictably this was one I really want our daughter to see.  Lily-Rose informed those around us that it was her picture, which mercifully people found charming.  Mr Walker and I saw this picture back in the 1998 Tate exhibition on Sargent, the day before he got his first museum post and it has always stayed with me.  The effect of the paper lantern-diffused light on the white of the girl's dresses and the petals of the flowers is just magical.  Described as Sargent's brush with Pre-Raphaelitism, I have to say I don't agree unless it is the idea of painting outside and among flowers.  It is a beautiful piece of English Impressionism, with the light and the powdering of flowers through the unruly grass. 

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth (1889)
It is the portraits of women that were my favourites and two deserve special mention.  Firstly and possibly also predictably, is Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, a massive and powerful image of an actress becoming her part with alarming conviction.  Alice Comyn Carr's beetle-wing dress is off-set by the rich red of her hair and the golden crown hovering like a halo over her. Her expression is one of exaltation, fear, power and uncertain control.  I had never considered before that Sargent posed Terry in an act that does not occur in the play but in itself is a hidden theme: how Lady Macbeth's pursuit of the crown is far more vicious and brave than her husband's, how she ultimately wants the crown more, or at least is willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

Mrs George Batten Singing (1897)
Finally then I will leave you with my favourite piece in the exhibition. Mabel Batten was a leading patron of the arts and a brilliant mezzo-soprano, also playing the piano and the guitar.  She was the lover of the Prince of Wales among others and wife of the private secretary to the British Viceroy in India and an all-round woman of excitement.  Sargent's portrait of her encompasses many aspects of her personality, as she is superficially shown holding the final note of 'Goodbye' by Paolo Tosti, but the image can easily be seen as a far more intimate, erotic piece.  The cropping of the work to concentrate on her tiny waist, low-cut dress and transported expression hints at a woman in the throes of passion, illuminated by lamplight.  Such a striking and beautiful image was worth the entry fee alone.

If you see one exhibition in London this spring, please make it this one.  It's gorgeous, thrilling and thoroughly enagaging.  I was particularly impressed that the shop boasts not only the expensive catalogue but also a £10 mini-guide with all the images illustrated, together with a brief piece on each.  If you can't make it to the exhibition, the little book is well illustrated and very interesting.  Bravo NPG!

To find out more about Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends visit the website here.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Fanny Found

This is a piece I have wanted to write for the last 20 years. This is also one of the most difficult pieces I have ever had to write. This is where I tell you about how Fanny Cornforth died.

The Blue Bower (1865) D G Rossetti
If you will remember from past posts and from Stunner: The Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth, Fanny lived in Hammersmith in London, corresponding with Samuel Bancroft jnr at the turn of the last century.  She is listed in the 1901 census as living in Kilmarsh Road as a lodger.  Her letters to Bancroft the American art collector are filled with complaints about the treatment she received at the hands of her sister-in-law, Rosa Villiers, who allowed her little money, despite the family being wealthy.  Then in 1905, all of a sudden, she vanished.

Fanny Cornforth (1874) D G Rossetti
Bancroft was left puzzled and the only news he received when he attempted to find Fanny was that she had become difficult and Rosa had swooped in and taken her off, presumably to live with her in Hove, on the south coast of England.  Sadly, that was not exactly the case.  Rosa had removed Fanny to the south coast, but placed her in the care of the Workhouse in West Sussex, where she was cared for in a small town outside Chichester. Then she became too much for her landlady Ann Humphrey to deal with so she was taken to Graylingwell Asylum.

West Sussex Hospital - Graylingwell Asylum
Graylingwell was formerly a farm and the home of Black Beauty author Anna Sewell.  It was redesigned and built to be an asylum, opening its doors in 1897, just outside of the town of Chichester in West Sussex.  At the time of her admission on 30 March 1907, Fanny (now properly referred to as Sarah Schott/Hughes) was recorded as 5'3" and weighing almost 12 stone.  She was described as stout and physically well, her hair brown-grey, her eyes green-grey, with upper and lower dentures. She was very deaf.  Her landlady blamed her mental state on the fact that she had been taken to a workhouse 'against her will' (presumably by Rosa) which had rightly distressed her.  It is mentioned that she had a bad temper.  Her first examination listed senile mania, confusion, weak-mindedness, unable to sustain a rational conversation, without memory and sleepless.  She maintained her health in the following few months of examination, despite her mental health being impaired, and was garrulous but incoherant and very excitable.  The asylum was told that Fanny had been strange in her manner for some time and behaved violently towards her landlady who she perceived as a threat, calling the police against her.

She passed the summer peacefully, causing very little trouble, but suffered a fall which broke her arm in September 1907.  That began a downturn in her mental and physical health.  The fall and subsequent medical assistance distressed her and made her violent.  She refused treatment, ripping the bandages from her injured arm and causing hemorrhage and severe bruising.  The wrist mended, but remained deformed.  Fanny's general health deteriorated and she became confused.  She is listed in 1908 as having senile dementia and the nurses that were required to care for her failing health received spiteful treatment from their patient.

Fair Rosamund D G Rossetti

In September 1908, Fanny contracted bronchitis severely.  It lingered, rendering her weak, both mentally and physically but it was noted that even then she remained obstinate, her bloody-minded spirit surviving despite the trials she suffered.  By February 1909 she was confined to her bed, needing constant nursing.  Pneumonia developed in her battered lungs and she died on February 24th 1909.  She was buried in the grounds of Graylingwell Asylum. She was 74 years old.

There is a final, heartbreaking piece of this story I am not able to bring you today.  Attached to her record from Graylingwell Asylum was a photograph of Fanny Cornforth aged 71 years old.  She was wearing a black dress with a lace collar, slightly askew and she looks both terrified and belligerent. In many ways it is better that we remember her in her glory than like that as I cried like a baby when I saw it. I hope to be able to reproduce it in the near future, but much like the image of Jane Morris in old age, it is a bitter sweet photograph. Better perhaps to remember her in happier times, in the garden of Tudor House.

Fanny Cornforth / Sarah Hughes  (1863)
Many, many thanks are due to Lynda Denyer from Steyning Museum for the tip off and invaluable help, to Karen Kivlehan for spotting the newly published lunacy record on Ancestry and setting us on this path of sad discovery and to the kind staff at the West Sussex Records Office for their help and the tissues.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Review: Salt and Silver

For reasons I won't bore you with, these reviews were a bit delayed, but over the next few days I will finally get round to reviewing Sculpture Victorious, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, and I'll start with Salt and Silver, currently on at Tate Britain...


This is the first exhibition in this country dedicated to salted paper prints, the earliest form of photography, showing a collection of beautiful moments of nineteenth century life.  As I originally come from a town close to Lacock in Wiltshire, I was aware of Henry Fox Talbot and his contribution to the birth of photography, but it was such a pleasure to see not only his prints but those of other pioneers in the art...

The Study of China (1844) Henry Fox Talbot
Split over four rooms, it charts the steady growth in the use of photography through the use of light-sensitive paper coated in silver salts. The process was that the paper turned black where the light hit the paper, capturing the image in reverse, then the image was shone through with sunlight to another piece of prepared paper producing the 'positive' print.  This grew up at the same time as Louis Daguerre was producing his 'daguerreotypes' on silver plates.  What made the salt prints more 'artistic' or subtle was the softened combination of light and shade.  It wasn't long before others were producing salt prints and one of the first was the Edinburgh photographic studio of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson...

Newhaven Fishermen (1845) D O Hill and R Adamson
The prints are remarkably small, when compared with the large scale works of Julia Margaret Cameron (which I am more familiar with these days), and each one seems a treasure, a little window into the past.  The images of everyday life, the buildings and urban landscape of the mid nineteenth century were fascinating and touching.  I think the one that moved me the most was the seemingly innocuous image of an ox cart, in front of a house with white crosses daubed on the wall, to indicate contagious disease...

Ox Cart, Brittany (1857) Paul Marès
I love seeing photographs of Victorians, and there are some beautiful nudes in the last room, including this one...

Mariette (1855) Nadar
I think what struck me most about the people in the pictures was that they were so real.  The nudes especially were not glamorised in anyway, and you get the lovely lass, lady-garden and dimpled knees and everything. Even the staged images of the children still had a realism, a spontaneity that is notoriously lacking in a great deal of traditional Victorian photography. 

Margaret and Mary Cavendish (1843-48) D O Hill and R Adamson
It is a unique opportunity to see the birth of something we take for granted these days, and see how modern our ancestors could be.  This exhibition was one of the quietest, most powerful exhibitions I've seen for ages and I thoroughly recommend a visit. 

For further information and tickets to Salt and Silver, see here.
To take a photographic course in Lacock, using the pioneering processes, see here.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sprung!



It’s about time it started getting more jolly outside, weather-wise.  Heavens, March didn’t so much come in like a lion, but more like a bag of frozen peas, lobbed at you in a cold shower.  Most unpleasant.  However, yesterday I did seed planting and garden weeding and general outdoor tending.  All this malarkey obviously brings me to images of Victorian spring-frolics!


Spring (Apple Blossom) (1859) J E Millais
Ah, that’s the life!  Lazing around in the spring sunshine, drinking milk out of one giant bowl after scything something.  Possibly the strangest picnic in art (yes, even including that nudey French one), still this gives the impression of the happy, carefree industry of spring, where the weather is just right to get outside and do stuff, then lie back and enjoy the warmth.


Spring Flowers (1851) George Smith
There is something about children and spring, irresistibly drawn together in Victorian art.  The year is young, the children are young, everything is full of promise and happiness, what could be nicer?



Spring (1864) William McTaggart
Even if this one has odd overtones of Spencer Stanhope’s Robins of Modern Times, still it gives the feeling of jolly children sprawling in the sunshine like little lambs, enjoying the pleasure of nature.  It might be the parent in me, but they are a little too close to that stream for my liking.  Sorry, I digress.  Look how green the grass is, how clear the sky is!  Isn’t nature magical?



A Spring Roundelay (1910) Edward Atkinson Hornel
Okay, now this one has overtones of The Roses of Heliogabalus, which can’t be a good thing.  I mean, I love spring but have no real wish for it to smother me in its loveliness until I suffocate.  Hornel’s pictures always look a bit like that, as if you are in the middle of some sort of really pretty natural disaster which people seem to be enjoying.


A Spring Idyll (1900) Thomas Bromley Blacklock
See, that’s much nicer.  Spring should be all about going outside, sitting with your ducks, combing out your hair in the warm and sweet-smelling garden.  That’s what March is all about, isn’t it?


Bleak March Frederick Hall
Oh, there’s always one, isn’t there?  Well, not this year!  Begone, Mr Hall, and your snowy sheep!  Bring on the sunshine and glorious blue sky!



A Study, In March John William Inchbold
That’s better.  I was walking the dog the other day and the scene was just like this – glorious clear, bright sky, the faintest smudge of powdered cloud and the sage and earth of nature all lit up and glorious.  Hurrah for spring indeed!


In the Springtime Frederick William Jackson
Quick, I urge you to go out and gambol among the lambs in the nearest field.  You’ll feel the better for it and people very rarely press charges for such behaviour in my experience.  Sheep seem to be the honorary animal of the season, I suppose because lambs are so cute and delicious, sorry, plentiful at this time of year, frolicking around the fields like maniacs.  You don’t get to see calves or chicks getting such exposure.  Possibly the lambs just have better PR?


Spring in the Birch Wood  George Henry
Woods get a good viewing in spring, possibly because they come to life with blue bells, leaves, the dappling of light through branches onto the verdant green plush of the forest floor.  Makes you want to run wild and remove your hat in public.


A Spring Revel (1916) Robert Anning Bell
Look, I love Spring, but when I said 'run wild', I meant taking off your hat not getting a mob of noisy friends together and running around with your thrups out.  For goodness sake, pull yourself together!


The Renaissance of Spring (1911) Joseph Franklin Kershaw
Oh for goodness sake! I hope her back garden is not overlooked.  You can’t get away with baring all among the crocuses around our way, next door have a very sensitive security light.  For some reason Spring is not only personified by jolly children but also attention-seeking young women, flashing their wherewithal from under a bedspread. It’s still quite chilly in the mornings you know, no wonder everything is so perky.


Spring Lowell Dyer
As lovely as all this is, I’m not sure I want to encourage any displays of public nudity, least of all my own.  Let’s be terribly English about this and reassure ourselves that we are frolicking naked underneath at least three layers and a cardigan.  Dyer’s maiden can waft about in something diaphanous; I’m keeping my thermals on.


Spring (1904) Maximilian Lenz

Now that’s more like it.  I like a massive frock and cloak, and what’s that on her head?  Brilliant.  Nice peacock too.  However, I do feel it is a little dark and doesn’t feel spring-like enough for my liking…


Blossoms of Spring William Shackleton

 Yes, that’ll do it.  Eye-blisteringly vivid, with gorgeous clouds and a rainbow as well!  This truly says to me ‘Winter is over, let’s go bonkers!’ in the most glorious manner.  There’s a pond, some ducks, a cherry tree covered in blossom. It’s all marvellous and makes you want to frolic around in the sunshine enjoying the daylight and vitamin D.  Well, run free and happy spring-time, my lovely readers, and may you gambol, frolic and remain as fully clothed as is legal...