Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mr. Turner movie reviewed!

a page from JMW Turner's sketchbook, Tate Gallery, UK

Timothy Spall became Joseph Mallard William Turner, the artist on screen in full flesh. Yes, the fullest! You see, his Mr. Turner was a physically large bellied stoutish aging man who grumbles his way between London and Margate.  I went to see Mr. Turner without knowing much of anything about the artist’s life. I soon raced home afterwards to piece together the left out, overlooked, altered or forgotten aspects of this man’s life. I couldn’t find anything earth shattering that Director Mike Leigh has left out! I will not ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. I will just talk endlessly about what I visually loved about the film and various characters. Did I hate or dislike anything about the movie? No, nothing truly disheartened me or made me ask why would someone do that on screen? The only small irksome thing was the portrayal of nineteenth century photographer/daguerreotypist, J.J. Mayall as American when he was British born. Other than that, his appearance was a fantastic surprising scene to watch; and oh, so hilarious! 

From the opening scene of the windmill on Lewisham Hill, to the end at his home at Margate, Mr. Turner was visually breathtaking to behold. You are introduced to Mr. Turner as he walks home to his home he shares with his ailing father and housekeeper. He has a warm and loving relationship with his father, whom he physically resembles; brilliantly acted by Paul Jesson.  For example, the scene at their home meeting Mary Somerville, a natural philosopher, played by Lesley Manville, shows a shared love of nature, art, and philosophy. As the conversation grows, Turner’s father beams proudly as he brags about his painter son’s education and accomplishments as he never went to school and didn’t know much! So very touching and heartwarming; then later when they enter Turner’s drawing room to look at his paintings on the walls, the artistic observations are poignant and hilarious. 


My heart almost leapt out of my chest during every scene at the Royal Academy; seriously, I sat hunched forward with my back away from the padded seat, eyes observing every inch of the room studded with paintings, now famous 19th century painter’s painting away on the canvases and crowded around various paintings chatting away stating their own opinions. A wonderfully funny scene between friends and allies Constable and Turner greeting each other; oh, all those men in top hats at once, my heart could only handle so much at a time! 


There was one aspect of Turner’s life portrayed in the movie very strongly depicting him as a man who abandoned his ex-lover Sarah Danby and two grown daughters. Several different scenes with an angry and confrontational Sarah Danby and Mr. Turner asking for money to help her support them when he never outwardly acknowledges having children. He rather represents himself as a Bohemian at heart gallivanting around town, painting landscapes and taking private sessions with prostitutes as models which bring him to tears of loneliness, anger, sorrow, who knows?  Either way, Mr. Turner is seen as human, flawed, and fragile until he meets the woman he calls his wife, in Margate, a widowed Mrs. Booth changes everything and old Turner is forced to come to terms with his own sexual needs and eventually his own sense of self. The scenes in seaside Margate, in a little house by the water as Mrs. Booth cleaned and catered to his every whim and Turner painted outdoors in all kinds of weather is worth the ticket price alone! I wanted to be a lodger in that old house by the sea but I’m sure I would only get in the way. 

There are scenes with art critic and painter, John Ruskin that still leave me confused and bewildered. I won’t give away the reasons why for I will leave that up to you!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mary Anderson (1859-1940) as Hermione from A Winter's Tale

Mary Anderson (Mrs de Navarro) as Hermione in 'The Winter's Tale'by Henry Herschel Hay Cameron (later The Cameron Studio) (son of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron), published by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, matte collodion printing-out paper panel card, 1887, NPG, UK


"There is so much beauty in the comedy of A Winter's Tale-so much thought, character, humour, philosophy, sweetly serene feeling and loveliness of poetic language-that the public ought to feel obliged to any one who successfully restores it to the stage, from which it usually is banished. The piece was written in the maturity of Shakespeare's marvellous powers, and indeed some of the Shakespearean scholars believe it to be the last work that fell from his hand. Human life, as depicted in A Winter's Tale, shows itself like what it always seems to be in the eyes of patient, tolerant, magnanimous experience-the eyes "that have kept watch o'er man's mortality"-for it is a scene of inexplicable contrasts and vicissitudes, seemingly the chaos of caprice and chance, yet always, in fact, beneficently overruled and guided to good ends. Human beings are shown in it as full of weakness; often as the puppets of laws that they do not understand and of universal propensities and impulses into which they never pause to inquire; almost always as objects of benignant pity. The woeful tangle of human existence is here viewed with half-cheerful, half-sad tolerance, yet with the hope and belief that all will come right at last. The mood of the comedy is pensive but radically sweet. The poet is like the forest in Emerson's subtle vision of the inherent exultation of nature:- 

Sober, on a fund of joy,
The woods at heart are glad.
 
Mary Anderson doubled the characters of Hermione and Perdita. This had not been conspicuously done until it was done by her, and her innovation, in that respect, was met with grave disapproval. The moment the subject is examined, however, objection to that method of procedure is dispelled. Hermione, as a dramatic person, disappears in the middle of the third act of Shakespeare's comedy and comes no more until the end of the piece, when she emerges as a statue. Her character has been entirely expressed and her part in the action of the drama has been substantially fulfilled before she disappears. There is no intermediate passion to be wrought to a climax, nor is there any intermediate mood, dramatically speaking, to be sustained. The dramatic environment, the dramatic necessities, are vastly unlike, for example, those of Lady Macbeth-one of the hardest of all parts to play well, because exhibited intermittently, at long intervals, yet steadily constrained by the necessity of cumulative excitement. The representative of Lady Macbeth must be identified with that character, whether on the stage or off, from the beginning of it to the end. Hermione, on the contrary, is at rest from the moment when she faints upon receiving information of the death of her boy. A lapse of sixteen years is assumed, and then, standing forth as a statue, she personifies majestic virtue and victorious fortitude. When she descends from the pedestal she silently embraces Leontes, speaks a few pious, maternal and tranquil lines (there are precisely seven of them in the original, but Mary Anderson added two, from "All's Well"), and embraces Perdita, whom she has not seen since the girl's earliest infancy. This is their only meeting, and little is sacrificed by the use of a substitute for the daughter in that scene. Perdita's brief apostrophe to the statue has to be cut, but it is not missed in the representation. The resemblance between mother and daughter heightens the effect of illusion, in its impress equally upon fancy and vision; and a more thorough elucidation is given than could be provided in any other way of the spirit of the comedy. It was a judicious and felicitous choice that the actress made when she selected those two characters, and the fact that her impersonation of them carried a practically disused Shakespearean comedy through a season of one hundred and fifty nights at the Lyceum Theatre in London furnishes an indorsement alike of her wisdom and her ability. She played in a stage version of the piece, in five acts, containing thirteen scenes, arranged by herself. 
 
In Hermione is seen a type of the celestial nature in woman-infinite love, infinite charity, infinite patience. Such a nature is rare; but it is possible, it exists, and Shakespeare, who depicted everything, did not omit to portray that. To comprehend Hermione the observer must separate her, absolutely and finally, from association with the passions. Mrs. Jameson acutely and justly describes her character as exhibiting "dignity without pride, love without passion, and tenderness without weakness." That is exactly true. Hermione was not easily won, and the best thing known about Leontes is that at last she came to love him and that her love for him survived his cruel and wicked treatment, chastened him, reinstated him, and ultimately blessed him. Hermione suffers the utmost affliction that a good woman can suffer. Her boy dies, heart-broken, at the news of his mother's alleged disgrace. Her infant daughter is torn from her breast and cast forth to perish. Her husband becomes her enemy and persecutor. Her chastity is assailed and vilified. She is subjected to the bitter indignity of a public trial. It is no wonder that at last her brain reels and she falls as if stricken dead. The apparent anomaly is her survival for sixteen years, in lonely seclusion, and her emergence, after that, as anything but a forlorn shadow of her former self. The poet Shelley has recorded the truth that all great emotions either kill themselves or kill those who feel them. It is here, however, that the exceptional temperament of Hermione supplies an explanatory and needed qualification. Her emotions are never of a passionate kind. Her mind predominates. Her life is in the affections and therefore it is one of thought. She sees clearly the facts of her experience and condition, and she knows exactly how those facts look in the eyes of others. She is one of those persons who possess a keen and just prescience of events, who can look far into the future and discern those resultant consequences of the present which, under the operation of inexorable moral law, must inevitably ensue. Self-poised in the right and free from the disturbing force of impulse and desire, she can await the justice of time, she can live, and she can live in the tranquil patience of resignation. True majesty of the person is dependent on repose of the soul, and there can be no repose of the soul without moral rectitude and a far-reaching, comprehensive, wise vision of events. Mary Anderson embodied Hermione in accordance with that ideal. By the expression of her face and the tones of her voice, in a single speech, the actress placed beyond question her grasp of the character:- 

Good my lords,
I am not prone to weeping, as our sex commonly are-
the want of which vain dew perchance shall dry your pities-
but I have that honourable grief lodged here,
which burns worse than tears drown.
 
The conspicuous, predominant, convincing artistic beauty in Mary Anderson's impersonation of Hermione was her realisation of the part, in figure, face, presence, demeanour, and temperament. She did not afflict her auditor with the painful sense of a person struggling upward toward an unattainable identity. She made you conscious of the presence of a queen. This, obviously, is the main thing-that the individuality shall be imperial, not merely wearing royal attire but being invested with the royal authenticity of divine endowment and consecration. Much emphasis has been placed by Shakespeare upon that attribute of innate grandeur. Leontes, at the opening of the trial scene, describes his accused wife as "the daughter of a king," and in the same scene her father is mentioned as the Emperor of Russia. The gentleman who, in act fifth, recounts to Autolycus the meeting between Leontes and his daughter Perdita especially notes "the majesty of the creature, in resemblance of the mother." Hermione herself, in the course of her vindication-expressed in one of the most noble and pathetic strains of poetical eloquence in our language-names herself "a great king's daughter," therein recalling those august and piteous words of Shakespeare's Katharine:- 

We are a Queen,
or long have thought so,
certain the daughter of a king.
 
Poor old Antigonus, in his final soliloquy, recounting the vision of Hermione that had come upon him in the night, declares her to be a woman royal and grand not by descent only but by nature:- 

I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,
So filled and so becoming.
In pure white robes,
Like very sanctity, she did approach.
 
That image Mary Anderson embodied, and therefore the ideal of Shakespeare was made a living thing-that glorious ideal, in shaping which the great poet "from all that are took something good, to make a perfect woman." Toward Polixenes, in the first scene, her manner was wholly gracious, delicately playful, innocently kind, and purely frail. Her quiet archness at the question, "Will you go yet?" struck exactly the right key of Hermione's mood. With the baby prince Mamillius her frolic and banter, affectionate, free, and gay, were in a happy vein of feeling and humour. Her simple dignity, restraining both resentment and grief, in face of the injurious reproaches of Leontes, was entirely noble and right, and the pathetic words, "I never wished to see you sorry, now I trust I shall," could not have been spoken with more depth and intensity of grieved affection than were felt in her composed yet tremulous voice. The entrance, at the trial scene, was made with the stateliness natural to a queenly woman, and yet with a touch of pathos-the cold patience of despair. The delivery of Hermione's defensive speeches was profoundly earnest and touching. The simple cry of the mother's breaking heart, and the action of veiling her face and falling like one dead, upon the announcement of the prince's death, were perfect denotements of the collapse of a grief-stricken woman. The skill with which the actress, in the monument scene-which is all repose and no movement-contrived nevertheless to invest Hermione with steady vitality of action, and to imbue the crisis with a feverish air of suspense, was in a high degree significant of the personality of genius. For such a performance of Hermione Shakespeare himself has provided the sufficient summary and encomium:- 

Women will love her, that she is a woman
More worth than any man;
Men that she is the rarest of all women.
 
It is one thing to say that Mary Anderson was better in Perdita than in Hermione, and another thing to say that the performance of Perdita was preferred. Everybody preferred it-even those who knew that it was not the better of the two; for everybody loves the sunshine more than the shade. Hermione means grief and endurance. Perdita means beautiful youth and happy love. It does not take long for an observer to choose between them. Suffering is not companionable. By her impersonation of Hermione the actress revealed her knowledge of the stern truth of life, its trials, its calamities, and the possible heroism of character under its sorrowful discipline. Into that identity she passed by the force of her imagination. The embodiment was majestic, tender, pitiable, transcendent, but its colour was the sombre colour of pensive melancholy and sad experience. That performance was the higher and more significant of the two. But the higher form of art is not always the most alluring-never the most alluring when youthful beauty smiles and rosy pleasure beckons another way. All hearts respond to happiness. By her presentment of Perdita the actress became the glittering image and incarnation of glorious youthful womanhood and fascinating joy. No exercise of the imagination was needful to her in that. There was an instantaneous correspondence between the part and the player. The embodiment was as natural as a sunbeam. Shakespeare has left no doubt about his meaning in Perdita. The speeches of all around her continually depict her fresh and piquant loveliness, her innate superiority, her superlative charm; while her behaviour and language as constantly show forth her nobility of soul. One of the subtlest side lights thrown upon the character is in the description of the manner in which Perdita heard the story of her mother's death-when "attentiveness wounded" her "till, from one sign of dolour to another, she did bleed tears." And of the fibre of her nature there is perhaps no finer indication than may be felt in her comment on old Camillo's worldly view of prosperity as a vital essential to the permanence of love:- 

I think affliction may subdue the cheek,
But not take in the mind.
 
In the thirty-seven plays of Shakespeare there is no strain of the poetry of sentiment and grace essentially sweeter than that which he has put into the mouth of Perdita; and poetry could not be more sweetly spoken than it was by Mary Anderson in that delicious scene of the distribution of the flowers. The actress evinced comprehension of the character in every fibre of its being, and she embodied it with the affluent vitality of splendid health and buoyant temperament-presenting a creature radiant with goodness and happiness, exquisite in natural refinement, piquant with archness, soft, innocent, and tender in confiding artlessness, and, while gleeful and triumphant in beautiful youth, gently touched with an intuitive pitying sense of the thorny aspects of this troubled world. The giving of the flowers completely bewitched her auditors. The startled yet proud endurance of the king's anger was in an equal degree captivating. Seldom has the stage displayed that rarest of all combinations, the passionate heart of a woman with the lovely simplicity of a child. Nothing could be more beautiful than she was to the eyes that followed her lithe figure through the merry mazes of her rustic dance-an achievement sharply in contrast with her usually statuesque manner. It "makes old hearts fresh" to see a spectacle of grace and joy, and that spectacle they saw then and will not forget. The value of those impersonations of Hermione and Perdita, viewing them as embodied interpretations of poetry was great, but they possessed a greater value and a higher significance as denotements of the guiding light, the cheering strength, the elevating loveliness of a noble human soul. They embodied the conception of the poet, but at the same time they illumined an actual incarnation of the divine spirit. They were like windows to a sacred temple, and through them you could look into the soul of a true woman-always a realm where thoughts are gliding angels, and feelings are the faces of seraphs, and sounds are the music of the harps of heaven."  Excerpts from SHADOWS OF THE STAGE BY WILLIAM WINTER, New York MacMillan and Company and London 1893) MARY ANDERSON: HERMIONE.
 

Mary Anderson (Mrs de Navarro) by Alexander Bassano, half-plate glass negative, 1894, NPG, UK

How many times have you seen a beautiful face captured by a photographer's lens or glass plate in this case and wondered who she was or what her life was like?  Since, the photographer is the son of Julia Margaret Cameron, I did some digging and couldn't find much but still she led an interesting life. 

Portrait of Mary Anderson by G.F. Watts, 1885-7, Watts left it unfinished because Mary never arrived to sit for him. He painted it from memory. Exhibited at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle in 1905: 'Watts Loan Collection Exhibition', No. 27.


Mary Anderson, a native of California, was born at Sacramento, July 28, 1859. Her father, Charles Joseph Anderson, who died in 1863, aged twenty-nine, and was buried in Magnolia cemetery, Mobile, Alabama, was an officer in the service of the Southern Confederacy at the time of his death, and he is said to have been a handsome and dashing young man. Her mother, Marie Antoinette Leugers, was a native of Philadelphia. Her earlier years were passed in Louisville, whither she was taken in 1860, and she was there taught in a Roman Catholic school and reared in the Roman Catholic faith under the guidance of a Franciscan priest, Anthony Miller, her mother's uncle. She left school before she was fourteen years old and she went upon the stage before she was sixteen. She had while a child seen various theatrical performances, notably those given by Edwin Booth, and her mind had been strongly drawn toward the stage under the influence of those sights. The dramatic characters that she first studied were male characters-those of Hamlet, Wolsey, Richelieu, and Richard III.-and to those she added Schiller's Joan of Arc. She studied those parts privately, and she knew them all and knew them well. Professor Noble Butler, of Louisville, gave her instruction in English literature and elocution, and in 1874, at Cincinnati, Charlotte Cushman said a few encouraging words to her, and told her to persevere in following the stage, and to "begin at the top." George Vandenhoff gave her a few lessons before she came out, and then followed her début as Juliet, leading to her first regular engagement, which began at Barney Macaulay's Theatre, Louisville, January 20, 1876. From that time onward for thirteen years she was an actress,-never in a stock company but always as a star,-and her name became famous in Great Britain as well as America. She had eight seasons of steadily increasing prosperity on the American stage before she went abroad to act, and she became a favorite all over the United States. She filled three seasons at the Lyceum Theatre, London (from September 1, 1883, to April 5, 1884; from November 1, 1884, to April 25, 1885; and from September 10, 1887, to March 24, 1888), and her success there surpassed, in profit, that of any American actor who had appeared in England. She revived Romeo and Juliet with much splendor at the London Lyceum on November 1, 1884, and she restored A Winter's Tale to the stage, bringing forward that comedy on September 10, 1887, and carrying it through the season. She made several prosperous tours of the English provincial theatres, and established herself as a favourite actress in Edinburgh, Manchester, and Dublin. The repertory with which she gained fame and fortune included Juliet, Hermione, Perdita, Rosalind, Lady Macbeth, Julia, Bianca, Evadne, Parthenia, Pauline, The Countess, Galatea, Clarice, Ion, Meg Merrilies, Berthe, and the Duchess de Torrenueva. She incidentally acted a few other parts, Desdemona being one of them. Her distinctive achievements were in Shakespearean drama. She adopted into her repertory two plays by Tennyson, The Cup and The Falcon, but never produced them.
 
Ordered to rest after her breakdown, Mary Anderson visited England. In 1890 she married AntonioFernando de Navarro, an American sportsman and barrister of Basque extraction, who was a Papal Privy Chamberlain of the Sword and Cape. She became known as Mary Anderson de Navarro. They settled at Court Farm, Broadway, Worcestershire, where she cultivated an interest in music and became a noted hostess with a distinguished circle of musical, literary and ecclesiastical guests. She also gave birth to a son and a daughter in her happy marriage.  Excerpted from New York Times article from 1913.

Antonio Fernando de Navarro; Mary Anderson (Mrs de Navarro) copy by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd)

half-plate glass negative, 4 September 1928 (1890), NPG, UK.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Signor makes a home on the Isle of Wight 1871-1875

G.F. Watts painting Ariadne, 1888-89 Watts Gallery

Lady Holland received an offer of forty thousand pounds for the property where Little Holland House was built upon.  The property company proposed building a new road that would cut through the house. When Watts heard this news, he quickly realized his future was threatened; for this was his home. Later on, he was given a six month notice to quit, ‘The uncertainty of the tenure will fidget me out of the power of working.’  He decided to write to Rickards asking him to fund a new house, in exchange for his pictures, so that he could complete his projects. However,  Rickards was unable to financially support Watts’ proposal. Then Watts received a letter from his good friend and Pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Burne-Jones affectionately called ‘Ned’ by friends, ‘I am doing a thing I never did before in my life, answering a letter straight away-accept the proof of my affection . . . I miss you very much for it has always been a real comfort to “run over” to Little Holland House & grumble myself out to you . . . I am really at present at the very lowest ebb of hope. Morris I see daily but that nightly soul is dormant at present . . . is there to be no more Little Holland House? It feels so sad as if one had come to another turn in life.’   The solution came in the form of one of ‘Signor’s’ (Watts’ nickname) closest confidantes, ‘Come to Freshwater and live near me at Farringford!’ Tennyson said.  Watts, without hesitation, went to fellow friend and architect, Philip Webb. He wasted no time, and bought a plot of land to the west of Farringford. Watts’s home would become one that he could share with the Prinseps; he would be able to return their hospitality. Thoby Prinsep was now eighty years old and nearly blind. His wife Sara’s health was deteriorating. Watts hoped that the mild climate and sea breezes of the Isle of Wight would improve both their health. On 27 February, 1872 Webb accepted the brief for a three-story studio house. Tennyson told Watts, ‘Your house here promises to be a very handsome one.’ 

 The Briary photographed and used in a 19th century article

Two years later, in January 1874, Watts’ home on the Isle of Wight, “The Briary,” was named after the roses in the hedgegrows by the foot of High Down and looked across the garden towards the sea. The three-storied red brick house had white painted dormers, and two cypress trees that flanked the entrance to the drive. Philip Webb recalled, ‘Light shone through the south-facing dining and drawing rooms; especially in the ground floor suite of Thoby Prinsep, where windows faced south and became the gathering place of friends and family.’ There was a covered brick verandah for Thoby to sit under which enabled him to enjoy the air in all types of weather. Watts had a thirty-foot studio, with a huge, north window, stretching the length of the butler’s quarters, the housekeeper’s and the kitchen. He curtained off the southern section below the gallery to create a private sitting room. Outside, the lawns were laid out with terraces of arching elm trees overhead. Blustering winds blew the sea air into the garden making nightingales sing.  Watts painted, ‘A Study from My Window’ so he could ‘examine & dwell upon beauties which are ever new.’ 
 Freshwater, near Farringford by G.F. Watts, 1874-5, Watts Gallery

The Prinseps now treated The Briary as their home while Signor went back to Little Holland House in Kensington to resume his relentless portrait schedule finishing two full-length portraits. The process of commuting back and forth between Kensington and the Isle of Wight began to take its toll on Watts’ health. He was alone at Little Holland House sick with influenza and longing for the sea air when he found out that The Prinseps had moved into The Briary before the plaster dried and a man named Tyerman was still working on the roof.  Watts told Rickards, ‘I have been losing a good deal of time & some temper in consequence.’  Thoby Prinsep on the other hand was heard to say, ‘London workman are bad enough but in the country it is almost impossible to get any thing done at all & quite impossible to get anything well done.’  The following day, he wrote to Lady Holland telling her he would give up Little Holland House at the end of the year for no other person would wish to take it on. The Prinseps were clearly better off in the country and by Easter Watts was back at Freshwater, conversing with Alice Liddell about painting a portrait of her father, Reverend Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, commissioned by the college to commemorate his twenty years in office. 

Just as there was a gate on the path connecting Mrs. Cameron’s home Dimbola to Tennyson’s home Farringford, so was a side gate between Watts’ home The Briary in the garden that opened into a lane leading over fields to Tennyson’s home Farringford, half a mile away. As one could imagine, there were numerous comings and goings between the two houses: ‘Life seemed to hum like some big wheel round the Cameron household.’ No islander or tourist was saife from her. No Fisherman, no people gazing at the sea or down the lanes. One would suddenly hear a loud voice, ‘I am Mrs. Cameron, perhaps you have heard of me, you would oblige me very much if you would let me photograph you.’ She was of a determined spirit and was known in reputation to disarm all she came in contact with by considerable charm.  These people she asked would find themselves modeling in her photographic studio and it was Watts himself who would receive her visitors! Watts loved to tell one story in particular when Julia Margaret Cameron arranged to drive Tennyson, Thoby and himself to admire the view from a new house in Freshwater, only to discover that the house was inhabited by a German tenant, a count, who objected to this invasion in his home. Julia told him, ‘the greatest living poet, our greatest Indian legislator and the greatest living painter.’  The count replied, ‘I subscribe not to that opinion. In Germany have we very good painters.’ 

Watts continued to work from sunrise until seven in the evening, rarely leaving the studio. He encouraged visitors to call for lunch, or after six. There were still problems at The Briary and Watts would write to Webb to complain with criticisms of the local workmen that were brought in. Webb understood Watts’ perspective and was equally angry over their London builder, Tyerman who was unprofessional, discourteous, and still owed thirty or forty pounds. Webb employed an independent architect named Vinall to examine Tyerman’s work and oversee further repairs. Webb wrote, ‘I must beg you to release me from any further interferance in a matter which has been so far from satisfactory to me. I have been made a fool of by a pack of fussy old women who want to direct his house as they did his married arrangements.’  This all made Watts come to realize how very much he preferred and needed a London base for his studio instead of the commute to the Isle of Wight. Yes, the idea of living there was momentarily a romantic one but a whim nonetheless. He also could not expect his patrons to cross the Solent to his studio. Val Prinsep acquired a 245 foot extension to his garden, and arranged to sublet to him for sixty pounds rent. When it came time to build a new studio he chose the architect, Frederick Pepys Cockerell who had designed Reginald Cholmondeley’s Kensington home in Palace Gate.  According to his letter of 23 December to the Academy, construction of the new house had begun. Cockerell’s plans were completed in November but would not receive official approval until 9 January 1875. He could not sign the agreement until 15 July and the Memorandum of Agreement between Val Prinsep and the Earl of Ilchester, relating its construction on the 207 foot by 135 foot plot is dated 15 February.  When Watts found out that old friend, Rickards was preserving his letters it unnerved him. He implored his patron to keep only those relating to business, ‘Being a lover of the beautiful its want of music is distasteful to me. I confess I should like to have a fine name & a great ancestry, it would have been delightful to me to feel as though a long line of worthies were looking down upon me & urging me to sustain their dignity. This I feel very strongly all the time feeling still more strongly that to do good work in the world is a better thing than an accidental place in society.’ 



SOURCE:  G. F. Watts: Reminiscences  By Mrs. Russell Barrington, New York, The Macmillan Company, London,George Allen, 1905


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mr.Turner Arriving Soon!

Movie Trailer for Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner has already been released in the U.K. and reviewed by numerous newspapers.  I have been avoiding all reviews and any mention of the movie until it is released here in the U.S. The release date will be December 19th, 2014. I will be going to see it immediately if not sooner with friends.  I have watched the trailer and am very excited to see the Royal Academy being represented in the movie. The museum shots got me very excited to say the least! The scenery looks beautiful, on land and on water.  I love the paintings of J.M.W. Turner but don't know very much about his life. So, I can watch Mr. Turner with the freedom of not recognizing any changes or 'mistakes' I feel the filmakers might have made. This will come after viewing the movie. I will then review it in full here.  This is just  a quick update and to my friends across the U.K., if you have already seen Mr. Turner, please feel free to comment but please no spoilers would be appreciated!  

See what I mean...lusciousness...


Mr. Turner depicts the last 25 years in the life of revered British artist J.M.W. Turner. Timothy Spall plays Turner and as the years roll by, the film explores his close relationship with his beloved father, his fractious relationship with the wider artistic community of the time, and his travels across Britain in search of inspiration.

A Review: Mr. Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense by Jenny Uglow

Edward Lear lived a vivid, fascinating, energetic life, but confessed, 'I hardly enjoy any one thing on earth while it is present....