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Posts Tagged ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti’

Yesterday’s post (now with English translation!) looked at the surroundings in which a feast is set, in a medieval setting. Today, I move considerably closer in time and in space to home.
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I have seen headlines for a lot of articles today about Elizabeth Siddall/Siddal, also known as Lizzie, Victorian artist and poet, who died much too young; I’m planning to Spotify said articles tomorrow, and will post the link here. Every one of these pieces is testament to Elizabeth not having been forgotten in the 186 years since she was born. She is one of my favourite artists, and it’s tragic that her adult life was so marked by illness and heartbreak, by addiction and depression, affecting her strength and ability to get the renown as an artist that her work deserved. You can read more about her life here. (more…)

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My Christmas tree (2013)

My Christmas tree (2013)

Because I started putting up the Christmas decorations at the family seat today, my eyes and my imagination are full of the many-coloured fairy lights shining on gingerbread men and women, angels, simple round baubles in many jewel-like colours, stained-glass Santas, and bells. I took the photo above last year; it’s the Christmas tree in my last flat, and my favourite decoration of all that you see is the sparkling pomegranate, bought in homage to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Proserpine. But as I’ve been pulling decorations, some older than me, from boxes, I’ve been thinking of one of the most striking lines that I have heard in any Christmas song.

Eyes full of tinsel and fire

It’s the excitement of Christmas, the beauty of the lights, and the lights’ transfiguration of simple baubles, tinsel, beads, fabric, and ribbon. It’s the smell of cinnamon and spices, in mulled wine and in cakes. It’s the mystery of creeping downstairs in the dark to see if Santa has been. It’s looking out of the window in the middle of the night to watch the snow falling. It’s such an evocative image of light that I had to include it in this series of blog posts. The line comes from Greg Lake’s song I believe in Father Christmas (1974), released in 1974. You can listen to the song by clicking on its title, and find out more about it here.

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La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896).  Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896). Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

I’ve always been impressed by the (first and second wave) Pre-Raphaelites’ many talents. They were not just artists, and as a lifelong student of languages (medieval languages in particular), William Morris’ work in translating Old French and Old Norse romances and epics, is of particular interest. When I first began researching the use of original medieval works by the Pre-Raphaelites, I was focusing more on such use in their art. Morris’ only painting, of Janey Morris as La Belle Iseult, is an obvious example (look to the left). (more…)

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Given this post is more an announcement of future regular posts resuming, as opposed to an actual post in itself, I thought I’d post some of my favourite pictures of medieval angels – on the basis that they act as heralds, and so tie into the theme of announcing. (more…)

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Roman de la Rose

The garden in the Roman de la Rose of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun is one of my favourite such spaces in all of medieval literature. The text to your left (in Old French, should you be that way inclined) gives a rich description of said garden, filled with apple trees, almond trees, fountains, flowers of all colours and perfumes. It’s a place where the normal rules don’t apply. Anything can happen in such a garden. (more…)

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La Belle Iseult, by William Morris (1858, oil on canvas, Tate Britain ; image via BBC Your Paintings)

I began the Victorian Vendredi series last week with a teaser for this week’s post. That teaser was the painting you see now to the right William Morris’s only completed painting, the model being Jane Burden, who later became his wife. On the reverse of the canvas, he wrote to her

I cannot paint you, but I love you

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By Jean-Pol Gradmont (Creative Commons 3, via Wikimedia)

The best Christmas present that I received when I was 7 was The Everyman Roget’s Thesaurus, by Dr Peter Mark Roget, rev. by D. C. Browning (London: Chancellor Press). I spent hours reading the entries; those about colours fascinated me most of all. The following year, we had to write an essay about Autumn, and during those weeks my Thesaurus was my constant companion. Words like ‘umber’, ‘ochre’, ‘crimson’, and ‘goldenrod’ were all I thought about. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get rid of that Thesaurus; where I go, it goes. (more…)

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When I was working on the dissertations for my MSc in Library and Information Studies and my MPhil Medieval and Renaissance Studies – Female Power and Responsibility in Medieval Court Narrative: A Comparative Study of the Presentation of Women in the Celtic and French Literary Courts and Illuminated Manuscripts of the Middle Ages: Access, Preservation and Relevance in the 21st Century (you can guess which dissertation goes with which course) – I wrote out an index card for every book, article, and and dissertation or thesis that I consulted, the idea being to create my own bibliographic database for future research. As I got closer to the hand-in dates, my mother sometimes took on this task. In our family, dissertations and assignments are very often a family affair, primarily for the sake of everybody’s sanity. I still have the four index card boxes full of annotated references on my desk at the family seat, and am forever finding more index cards used as bookmarks in research-related and personal reading material from the time. While studying for the MPhil, I attended a series of skills workshops organised by the Arts Faculty to support postgraduate students through their research. One of these covered EndNote; I attended it, and did start to use it, but ultimately found it easier and more efficient to continue using my own system, as I was already used to it. So, like Isla Kuhn (author of the official CPD23 Thing Fourteen blogpost), I typed up my bibliography on the computer, and inserted each reference into its correct place in the text proper. It was a difficult and exacting process, and often felt like it took as much time as writing the dissertation itself. Fortunately, there is a certain satisfaction to be had in looking at the final product, knowing how much work went into it. Don’t judge me. (more…)

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… which is not to say that I am working through an Italian encyclopedia, as much as I enjoy reading such works, and as much as I need to start revising my Italian. It is simply an apt summary of my day.

I used to go to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery in London as much as humanly possible. I would breathe them in as though my life depended on it, and did get miserable if I wasn’t able to visit them for a few weeks. Until today, I had not visited either of them in over a year, so I was blissfully happy to spend a few hours in the National Gallery, in the Sainsbury Wing’s collection of paintings from 1250 to 1500. As a self-proclaimed medieval geek, I am considerably embarrassed to have to admit that it was my first prolonged visit to that department. I now dread a knock at my door to request that I relinquish my membership of the Guild of aforementioned Medieval Geeks. (more…)

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