Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais By Suzanne Fagence Cooper: A Review

Author Suzanne Fagence Cooper reads from her novel Effie Gray.

U.S. Book Cover

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (June 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312581734
ISBN-13: 978-0312581732

UK Cover from 2010. 
I love this cover it's beautiful. 

Effie Gray, a beautiful and intelligent young socialite, rattled the foundations of England's Victorian age. Married at nineteen to John Ruskin, the leading art critic of the time, she found herself trapped in a loveless, unconsummated union after Ruskin rejected her on their wedding night. On a trip to Scotland she met John Everett Millais, Ruskin's protégé, and fell passionately in love with him. In a daring act, Effie left Ruskin, had their marriage annulled and entered into a long, happy marriage with Millais.

Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie’s extensive and previously unseen letters and diaries to reveal the reality behind this great Victorian love story. A major critical reassessment of the Victorian art world, the book addresses the careers of Ruskin and Millais from a new angle, with Effie emerging as a key figure in the artistic development of both men. Effie, her sisters and daughters appear in many of Millais’ most haunting images, embodying Victorian society’s fears about female sexuality and freedom. 'Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais' is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary woman behind some of the most beautiful and celebrated pre-Raphaelite paintings.

Effie Gray

What I thoroughly enjoyed about this novel was the fact that the author went to great lengths researching the life of Effie Gray and those around her. What she didn't expect was to be given, by surviving family members, boxes of correspondence of the Gray, Ruskin, and Millais'.
Could you ask for anything better as a writer? As a result, Effie Gray comes to life before your eyes. The reader takes a genuine interest in the life of this young innocent Victorian girl who meets John Ruskin early in young adulthood thinking he is the answer to all of her romantic dreams. How mistaken she was. John Ruskin although fond of young Effie never truly was physically attracted to her. He never truly fell in love with her. So, why he decided Effie was the girl to marry, no one will ever know. The treasure trove of letters only touches upon various moments throughout their six year marriage. The letters give a wonderful glimpse into the mindset of Effie Gray but what provides other clues are the extraordinary Pre-Raphaelite paintings of second husband John Everett Millais whom she called 'Everett'.

The Gray Family and John Everett Millais at St Andrews, studio photograph, 1855.
From left to right: George Gray Jnr. with John and Albert, Sophia Gray (Effie's mother), Jeannie with baby Everett, George Gray snr. (Effie's father) with Alice and Sophy, Melville, Effie and Everett Millais sitting and standing together far right. Private Collection.

The love story truly begins in Scotland during a working vacation for The Ruskin's when John asks Millais to come along. In a tiny cottage in The Trossachs of the Highlands in Scotland, a young, still virginal, married Effie Gray falls in love with a young handsome painter Everett. Everett pays attention to her, enjoys spending time with her and their friendship gives her the confidence and courage to divorce John Ruskin. As a woman during the Victorian age, this was unheard of and legally could not have occurred without the support of biological family members of the long suffering wife as well as other factors.

John Ruskin

I never truly understood the reasons why John Ruskin made most of his life decisions. Although, he seemed to be ruled by religion and his medieval themed love of nature and art. This took precedence over marriage and any type of physical and sexual relationship.

The author uses Millais' Pre-Raphaelite paintings, of which Effie modeled for most of them, to bring their love story to life, as well as, providing a fundamental understanding for the depth of their love for each other.

This might have been my favorite aspect of the novel and something which has not happened to me before. Being able to look at paintings that you've known and loved for years with 'fresh eyes'. Having read the letters between Effie and her parents she provides background anecdotal information as to the how, why, and where the paintings might have taken place shining a fresh light on its surroundings and reasons for being!

King's Bedroom, Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent, England

Effie's correspondence tells us that after they were married Everett took Effie to Knole in Kent and painted her standing in the middle of the King's bedroom: "In the autumn of 1862 Everett returned to a subject that brought to mind the early days of their love. He wanted to paint a new version of The Eve of St. Agnes. Sending the children away to her parents, Effie and Everett were free to begin work on the picture. Everett had found the ideal background, the King's Room in the great house at Knole in Kent. Dominated by a shadowy curtained bed, this would be Madeline's chamber. In his poem Keats described a young woman dreamily disrobing, unaware that her lover Porphyro was watching her, unseen. Everett puts his audience in Porphyro's hiding place. He offers a glimpse of Madeline 'loosening her fragrant bodice', with her shimmering skirts sliding from her hips. The blue and silver of her gown glints in the moonlight. She thinks she is alone in the vast room. She is bare shouldered in white linen and lace" ( P.151) Effie Gray US Edition Hardcover.

If you are curious or just want to learn a bit more about the lives of John Ruskin, Effie Gray, and John Everett Millais, I urge you to pick up this novel. If you love Pre-Raphaelite art then this is a no brainer, buy it!

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments,

Lady Margaret Beaufort Countess of Richmond and Derby (31 May 1443 or 1441 – 29 June 1509)

The above video provides clips from Historian David Starkey narrating the life of Lady Margaret Beaufort. However, Starkey is not a fan of Richard III so Richardians be warned!

Lady Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII and grandmother of King Henry VIII of England. She was a key figure in the Wars of the Roses, an influential matriarch of the House of Tudor and foundress of two Cambridge colleges. In 1509, she briefly served as regent (head of state) of England for her grandson who was a minor at the time. She was the daughter and heiress of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset.

Margaret was born at Bletso Castle, Bedfordshire, on 31 May 1443 or 1441. The date and month are not disputed, as she required Westminster Abbey to celebrate her birthday on 31 May. The year of her birth is more uncertain.

She was the daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and Margaret Beauchamp of Bletso. At the moment of her birth, Margaret's father was preparing to go to France and lead an important military expedition for King Henry VI. Somerset negotiated with the king to ensure that, in case of his death, the rights to Margaret's wardship and marriage would belong only to his wife. However, Somerset fell out with the king after coming back from France. He was banished from the court and was about to be charged with treason. He died shortly afterwards. Margaret, as his only child, was the heiress to his fortunes.

On Margaret's first birthday, the King broke his arrangement with Margaret's father and gave her wardship to William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, though Margaret remained with her mother. Margaret's mother was pregnant at the time of Somerset's death but her sibling did not survive and Margaret remained sole heiress. Although she was her father's only legitimate child, Margaret had two half-brothers and three half-sisters from her mother's first marriage whom she supported after her son's accession.

Margaret was first married to Suffolk's son, John de la Pole. The wedding was held between 28 January and 7 February 1450. Papal dispensation was granted on 18 August 1450 because the spouses were too closely related. Three years later, the marriage was dissolved and the king granted Margaret's wardship to his own half-brothers, Jasper and Edmund Tudor. Margaret never recognized this marriage. In her will, made in 1472, Margaret refers to Edmund Tudor as her first husband. Under canon law, Margaret was not bound by the marriage contract anyway, as she entered the marriage before reaching the age of twelve.

Even before the annulment of her first marriage, Henry VI chose Margaret as a suitable bride for his half-brother, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond. Edmund was the eldest son of the king's mother, Dowager Queen Catherine, by her liaison with Owen Tudor.

Margaret was 12 when she married 24-year old Edmund Tudor on 1 November 1455. The Wars of the Roses had just broken out; Edmund, a Lancastrian, was taken prisoner by Yorkist forces less than a year later. He died in captivity the following November, leaving a 13-year-old widow who was seven months pregnant with their child. At Pembroke Castle on 28 January 1457, the Countess gave birth to her only child, Henry Tudor. The birth was particularly difficult; at one point, both the Countess and her child were close to death, due to her young age and small size.

Margaret and her son remained in Pembroke until the York triumphs of 1461. Margaret Beaufort's relationship with her only child was extraordinary. The mother had barely seen her son since he was a young child; from the age of two, Henry lived with his father's family in Wales and from the age of fourteen, he lived in exile in France. During this period, their relationship was sustained by letters and a few visits.

The Countess always respected the name and memory of Edmund for he was the father of her only child. In 1472, sixteen years after his death, Margaret specified in her will that she wanted to be buried alongside Edmund, although she enjoyed a long, stable and close relationship with her third husband who died in 1471. She had no children with her future husbands. The birth of her only child when she was only thirteen years old was difficult enough to render her infertile.

On 3 January 1462, Margaret married Henry Stafford (c.1425–1471), son of Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham. The dispensation for the marriage, necessary because Margaret and Stafford were first cousins, was granted on 6 April. The Countess enjoyed a fairly long and harmonious relationship for the first time during her marriage to Stafford. Margaret and her husband were given 400 marks worth of land by Buckingham, but Margaret's own estates were still the main source of income. Margaret's estates enabled the pair to enjoy an aristocratic lifestyle. They had no children. She became a widow again in 1471.

In June 1472, Margaret married Thomas Stanley, the Lord High Constable and King of Mann. Their marriage was at first a marriage of convenience. Recent historians have suggested that Margaret never considered herself a member of the Stanley family.

The Countess conspired against Richard III with the dowager queen, Elizabeth Woodville. As Elizabeth's sons, the Princes in the Tower, were presumed murdered, the two women agreed on the betrothal of Margaret's son, Henry, to Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Edward IV. Margaret's husband also secretly conspired against Richard. When summouned to fight at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, Thomas Stanley stayed aloof from the battle, even though his eldest son, George Stanley was held hostage by Richard. After the battle, it was Stanley who placed the crown on the head of his stepson, who later made him Earl of Derby. Margaret was now styled "Countess of Richmond and Derby".

Later in her marriage, the Countess preferred living alone. In 1499, with her husband's permission, she took a vow of chastity in the presence of Richard FitzJames, Bishop of London. Taking a vow of chastity while being married was unusual, but not unprecedented, as around 1413 Margery Kempe also negotiated a vow of chastity with her husband. The Countess moved away from her husband and lived alone at Collyweston. She was regularly visited by her husband, who had rooms reserved for him. Margaret renewed her vows in 1504.

With her son winning the crown at Bosworth Field, the Countess was now referred to in court as "My Lady the King's Mother". As such, she enjoyed legal and social independence which other married women could not. Her son's first parliament recognized her right to hold property independently from her husband, as if she were unmarried.

Henry now married Elizabeth of York. The Countess herself was reluctant to accept a lower status than the dowager queen Elizabeth, or even her daughter-in-law, the queen consort. She wore robes of the same quality as the queen consort and walked only half a pace behind her.

Margaret had signed herself M. Richmond for years since the 1460s. In 1499, she changed her signature to Margaret R., perhaps signifiying her royal authority (R standing either for regina – queen in Latin as customarily employed by female monarchs – or for Richmond). Furthermore, she included the Tudor crown and the caption et mater Henrici septimi regis Angliæ et Hiberniæ("and mother of Henry VII, king of England and Ireland").

Many historians believe the banishment of dowager queen Elizabeth in 1487 by Henry VII was partly at the behest of his influential mother. The Countess was known for her education and her piety, and her son is said to have been devoted to her. He died on 21 April 1509, having designated his mother chief executor of his will. She arranged her son's funeral and her grandson's coronation; at the former, the Countess was given precedence over all the other women of the royal family. On the death of Henry VII, the Countess was declared to be regent for her grandson, Henry VIII, who was considered too young to reign on his own.

Her regency was short lived, however, as the Countess died on the 29th of June 1509, the day after her grandson's 18th birthday, in the Deanery of Westminster Abbey, just over two months after the death of her son. She is buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel of the Abbey, in a black marble tomb topped with a bronze gilded effigy and canopy, between the graves of William and Mary and the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The words inscribed on Lady Margaret's tomb in Westminster Abbey - perhaps composed by Erasmus - commemorate her above all as a patron of learning. The inscription reads:
Margaret of Richmond, mother of Henry VII, grandmother of Henry VIII, who gave a salary to three monks of this convent and founded a grammar school at Wimborne, and to a preacher throughout England, and to two interpreters of Scripture, one at Oxford, the other at Cambridge, where she likewise founded two colleges, one to Christ, and the other to St John, his disciple.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Legacy: The Acclaimed Novel of Elizabeth, England's Most Passionate Queen -- and the Three Men Who Loved Her by Susan Kay

We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep -- Skakespeare, The Tempest

Within the labyrinth she walked slowly down the corridor, knowing it to be the longest and the last. She had conquered and no fear informed her stately progress now, only idle curiousity to see what waited at the end of this journey inwards. When she found the door she was not unduly surprised; and since she had nothing better to do, and there was no one here to do it for her--as there had been as far back as she remembered--she chose to open that door herself. The door gave out on to an unfathomable expanse of darkness, cold, empty, remarkably uninviting, it made her hesitate and look back down the endless passage, a narrow tunnel that ended in a bright pin-prick of light--the world she was about to leave.

"It will go on without you, you know."
She whirled round, wild with hope, "Robin!"
"You were expecting perhaps the Devil in person?"
His voice was exactly as she remembered it, amused, cynical, slightly peevish. She laughed a little shakily and took an uncertain step towards the darkness.
"I don't know what I was expecting. What place is this?"
"Oh, this is no-where. The boundary between our two worlds."
"Then--then I'm not dead."
"No, you're not dead." The voice paused, sighed, seemed to consider.
"You may return even now if you wish. Or you may come with me. But if you go back now, I shall not wait for you again."
She took another step towards the engulfing abyss and stretched out desperate hands.
"But I can't see you!" she cried. "How do I know this isn't a dream, or some trick of the Devil's? How do I know you are really there?"
"You don't know," he said quietly. "That is the final test of your love, you see--to take me on trust in death, as you never did in life."
For a moment she was silent."
What must I do to reach you?" she asked at last.
"You must step off the edge," he said.
Instinctively she recoiled from the prospect and drew back from the emptiness.
"Will you not do that for me, even now?" he asked sadly. "Are you still afraid to fall?"
She smiled and flung up her head with pride.
"I'm not afraid of anything--in this world or the next."
"I don't believe you," he said with soft challenge. "Prove it to me."

She walked alone into the void. The corridor was gone and the light at the end of it; the darkness around her was absolute. She mastered a scream and held out one hand.
"I am here."
Joyfully, triumphantly, he took her hand and pulled her forward into infinity.

Have you sufficiently recovered yet? The Epilogue provides you with just a taste of the love and lifelong relationship between Elizabeth Tudor and Robert Dudley. However, that is just one aspect of this beautifully written, touching, emotionally charged novel. Bringing to life Elizabeth Tudor born a princess, became a bastard, part abandoned toddler, part little girl lost, part heartbroken princess, part desirable woman but always Gloriana! Playing the part of The Virgin Queen til the end not wanting to disappoint her loyal subjects, the people who loved her most and the country in which she ruled!

Yes, 'Legacy' is the birth to death retelling of one of the most enigmatic rulers England or the world has ever seen! What people forget is that Elizabeth Tudor was very much a human being, flesh and bone, heart, spirit, and soul! That is what I have been searching for these many years. An author, who would not only bravely attempt to fictionalize a life such as hers historically and accurately but not forget the motherless child who had no choice but to rule a kingdom fate saw to that upon the death of her half-sister Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary).

Susan Kay weaves together three instrumental men guiding her course through life with dedication, loyalty, trust, and adoration. Elizabeth’s lover, Robert Dudley, and her chief minister, William Cecil who many times put his loyalty to his queen above his own wife. Lastly, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and son of Lettice Knollys (rival of Elizabeth I) who kept her going after Dudley's death until his foolish pride intervened and she put him to death!

This is the difference between Legacy and the myriad of other novels of Elizabeth I. For me, Susan Kay stays with the main players in Elizabeth Tudors's life: her parents, her nanny's, her tutors, Robert Dudley and her loyal men of the privy council. Susan Kay does not include any other historical figures except for the ones necessary to the plot. Otherwise, you are awash with confusion and the plot drags and the reader loses interest.

This novel is a winner for any Tudor history lover. Over six hundred pages long, you are never bored just left with a desire to read on. It took the author fifteen years to write this novel, it won two literary awards upon being published in the early nineteen eighties. Republished last year I urge anyone to pick it up and get lost in Elizabethan England!

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Arrest of Thomas Cromwell: Machiavellian Minister of Henry VIII: 10 June 1540

Thomas Cromwell being taken to the Tower of London
after being sentenced to death.

1540: Thomas Cromwell
It was on this date in 1540 that Thomas Cromwell fell by the instrument he had wielded so ably against so many others. While Henry strove to get his end away, Thomas Cromwell made the Reformation, setting his energetic hand to the needfully violent reordering of England. In almost a decade as the king’s chief minister, he had dissolved so many monasteries, annulled so many noble prerogatives, backstabbed so many courtiers, and sent so many of every class to the scaffold that most at court had some reason to hate him. (Cranmer was the only one to (cautiously) object to his old partner’s arrest.)

Every matter of importance in 1530′s England concerned Cromwell. He raised and then destroyed Anne Boleyn; he managed the realm’s religious turmoil so fearsomely that his ouster was one of the demands of the Pilgrimage of Grace; he did what he had to do in the matter of Sir Thomas More.

“Who cannot be sorrowful and amazed that he should be a traitor against your majesty? He that was so advanced by your majesty, he whose surety was only by your majesty, he who loved your majesty, as I ever thought, no less than God; he who studied always to set forward whatsoever was your majesty’s will and pleasure; he that cared for no man’s displeasure to serve your majesty; he that was such a servant, in my judgment, in wisdom, diligence, faithfulness, and experience, as no prince in this realm ever had …
If he be a Traitor, I am sorry that ever I loved him, or trusted him, and I am very glad that his treason is discovered in time; but yet again I am very sorrowful; for who shall your grace trust hereafter, if you might not trust him? Alas!”

-Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, writing to King Henry VIII upon news of the arrest of Thomas Cromwell

Though it may be, as Edward Hall recorded, that “many lamented but more rejoiced” at Cromwell’s fall from the very height of his power “and specially such as either had been religious men, or favoured religious persons; for they banqueted and triumphed together that night [of his execution], many wishing that that day had been seven year before” the reasons for it are murky.

The bedroom politics get all the press: Cromwell’s bit of marital statecraft arranging Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was a famous dud, but negotiations to end it were well on their way by the time of Cromwell’s arrest.

Why, too, should the minister have been ennobled Duke of Essex in April 1540, months after the disastrous union? That Cromwell, whose own security rested upon the stability of the realm, was a radical Protestant promulgating inflammatory religious ideas and he was condemned for both treason and heresy, incidentally giving the king wide latitude for just how painfully to kill his former servant seems to beggar belief.

Once fallen, Cromwell was kept alive long enough to add testimony to the Cleves divorce; that much is clear. But then why keep him alive still three weeks more?
In the end, maybe it was inevitable that one in his position, at his time and place, had to follow to the scaffold the many he had sent thither, just the Tudor version of that familiar “bad advisors” trope: it were not treason to murmur against the aide whose ill counsel did wrong by His Majesty, and so Cromwell stood to accumulate the share of hostility that properly belonged to his sovereign. As an expert practitioner of the game of power politics, Thomas Cromwell could hardly be in a position to complain.

Oh, and by the way with the German princess on the outs, the king’s wandering eye had fallen upon a niece of Cromwell’s enemy. On the day that Cromwell lost his head, Henry married Catherine Howard. No matter your brilliance, in Henrican England you only had to lose at court politics once, even if the king would be lamenting this injudicious trade within months.
Henry gave his loyal servant the easiest death, beheading on Tower Hill (although it turned out to be a botched job) alongside a Walter Hungerford, the first person executed under the Buggery Act.

Here are the events of the day from a more 'objective' perspective; a Charles Carlton: A Study in Interrogation explains:
On the afternoon of Thursday, the 10th of June 1540, a squad of Yeoman of the guard burst into the Council Chamber in Westminster Hall, and arrested Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief minister. They escorted him out through a postern to a boat waiting at Westminster Steps, rowed him down the Thames, and through Traitors' Gate into the Tower of London. Within this gaunt prison Cromwell was held till the early morning of July 28th, when the Yeoman marched him to Tower Hill to be executed for treason, heresy, bribery,and misuse of power. He climbed the scaffold, and addressed the crowd. He had come here to die, he confessed, and not to justify himself. He was a grievous wretch, who sought God's pardon. He had offended the King, and asked the crowd to pray that Henry VIII would forgive him. Finally, Cromwell insisted that he would die a Catholic, and that he had never waivered in a single article of the Catholic faith. Then, after a short paryer commending his soul to the Almighty, Cromwell laid his head on the block, and, as John Foxe records, "patiently suffered the stroke of the axe" swung "by a ragged and butcherly miser (who) very ungodly performed the office."

Edward Hall records Cromwell playing ball with a fine entry in the scaffold-speech genre that kept his son in the peerage.
I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my self, as maie happen, some thynke that I will, for if I should do so, I wer a very wretche and miser: I am by the Lawe comdempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For sithence the tyme that I have had yeres of discrecion, I have lived a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes. And it is not unknowne to many of you, that I have been a great traveler in this worlde, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithes the tyme I came thereunto, I have offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeve me. O father forgeve me. O sonne forgeve me, O holy Ghost forgeve me: O thre persons in one God forgeve me. And now I praie you that be here, to beare me record, I die in the Catholicke faithe, not doubtyng in any article of my faith, no nor doubtyng in any Sacrament of the Churche.* Many hath sclaundered me, and reported that I have been a bearer, of suche as hath mainteigned evill opinions, whiche is untrue, but I confesse that like as God by his holy spirite, doth instruct us in the truthe, so the devill is redy to seduce us, and I have been seduced: but beare me witnes that I dye in the Catholicke faithe of the holy Churche. And I hartely desire you to praie for the Kynges grace, that he maie long live with you, maie long reigne over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remaigneth in this fleshe, I waver nothyng in my faithe.
And then made he his praier, whiche was long, but not so long, as bothe Godly and learned, and after committed his soule, into the handes of God, and so paciently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged and Boocherly miser, whiche very ungoodly perfourmed the Office.

If Cromwell’s dying sentiment concealed any lasting bitterness for the crown, maybe his spirit would take some satisfaction a century later when another of his name and family rose high enough to behead a king.

So died one of England's greatest statesmen the architect of the Reformation and the Tudor Revolution Government. Just as his career has been the source of much historical debate, the events of the last seven weeks of his life, from his arrest to his execution,and his scaffold address especially, have been an irritant of contradiction and confusion.

Thomas Cromwell: A Study in Interrogation, Charles Carlton, Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer, 1973), pp. 116-127.

Edward Hall, The Union of the two noble and illustre families of York and Lancaster (London, 1548), pp. 246-47.

John Foxe, Actes and Monuments, ed. George Townsend, 8 vols. (London, 1834), V:402-03.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Sir John Everett Millais 8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896

Sir John Everett Millais

Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA was an English painter and illustrator and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His prodigious artistic talent won him a place at the Royal Academy schools at the unprecedented age of eleven. While there, he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (known as the "PRB") in September 1848 in his family home on Gower Street, off Bedford Square.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti Self-Portrait
 by George Frederic Watts

William Holman Hunt in his Eastern dress 
Photo taken by Julia Margaret Cameron

Millais' Christ In The House Of His Parents (1850) was highly controversial because of its realistic portrayal of a working class Holy Family labouring in a messy carpentry workshop. Later works were also controversial, though less so. Millais achieved popular success with A Huguenot (1852), which depicts a young couple about to be separated because of religious conflicts. He repeated this theme in many later works. All these early works were painted with great attention to detail, often concentrating on the beauty and complexity of the natural world. In paintings such as Ophelia (1852) Millais created dense and elaborate pictorial surfaces based on the integration of naturalistic elements. This approach has been described as a kind of "pictorial eco-system".
This style was promoted by the critic John Ruskin, who had defended the Pre-Raphaelites against their critics. Millais' friendship with Ruskin introduced him to Ruskin's wife Effie. Soon after they met she modelled for his painting The Order of Release. As Millais painted Effie they fell in love. Despite having been married to Ruskin for several years, Effie was still a virgin. Her parents realized something was wrong and she filed for an annulment. In 1855, after her marriage to Ruskin was annulled, Effie and John Millais married. He and Effie eventually had eight children: Everett, born in 1856; George, born in 1857; Effie, born in 1858; Mary, born in 1860; Alice, born in 1862; Geoffroy, born in 1863; John in 1865; and Sophie in 1868. Their youngest son, John Guille Millais, became a notable naturalist and wildlife artist. Effie's younger sister Sophy Gray sat for several pictures by Millais, prompting some speculation about the nature of their apparently fond relationship.
Christ In The House Of His Parents (1850)

A Huguenot (1852), 

Ophelia (1852) 

The Order of Release, 1746 (Effie) (1853)

After his marriage, Millais began to paint in a broader style, which was condemned by Ruskin as "a catastrophe". It has been argued that this change of style resulted from Millais' need to increase his output to support his growing family. Unsympathetic critics such as William Morris accused him of "selling out" to achieve popularity and wealth. His admirers, in contrast, pointed to the artist's connections with Whistler and Albert Moore, and influence on John Singer Sargent. Millais himself argued that as he grew more confident as an artist, he could paint with greater boldness. Paintings such as The Eve of St. Agnes and The Somnambulist clearly show an ongoing dialogue between the artist and Whistler, whose work Millais strongly supported. Other paintings of the late 1850s and 1860s can be interpreted as anticipating aspects of the Aesthetic Movement.

Later works, from the 1870s onwards demonstrate Millais' reverence for old masters such as Joshua Reynolds and Velázquez. Many of these paintings were of an historical theme and were further examples of Millais' talent. Notable among these are: The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower (1878) depicting the Princes in the Tower, The Northwest Passage (1874) and the Boyhood of Raleigh (1871). Such paintings indicate Millais' interest in subjects connected to Britain's history and expanding empire. His last project (1896) was to be a painting entitled The Last Trek. Based on his illustration for his son's book, it depicted a white hunter lying dead in the African veldt, his body contemplated by two Africans.

The Eve of St. Agnes (1863)

The Somnambulist AKA (The Woman In White) 1871

The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483 (1878) 

Millais was also very successful as a book illustrator, notably for the works of Anthony Trollope and the poems of Tennyson. His complex illustrations of the parables of Jesus were published in 1864. His father-in-law commissioned stained-glass windows based on them for Kinnoull parish church, Perth. He also provided illustrations for magazines such as Good Words. In 1869 he was recruited as an artist for the newly founded weekly newspaper The Graphic.

Millais was elected as an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1853, and was soon elected as a full member of the Academy, in which he was a prominent and active participant. He was granted a baronetcy in 1885, the first artist to be honoured with a hereditary title. After the death of The Lord Leighton in 1896, Millais was elected President of the Royal Academy, but he died later in the same year from throat cancer. He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

When Millais died in 1896, the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII) chaired a memorial committee, which commissioned a statue of the artist. This was installed at the front of the National Gallery of British Art (now Tate Britain) in the garden on the east side in 1905. On 23 November that year, the Pall Mall Gazette called it "a breezy statue, representing the man in the characteristic attitude in which we all knew him".
In 1953, Tate Director, Sir Norman Reid, attempted to have it replaced by Auguste Rodin's John the Baptist, and in 1962 again proposed its removal, calling its presence "positively harmful". His efforts were frustrated by the statue's owner, the Ministry of Works. Ownership was transferred from the Ministry to English Heritage in 1996, and by them in turn to the Tate. In 2000, under Stephen Deuchar's directorship, the statue was removed to the rear of the building.

Millais' relationship with Ruskin and Effie has been the subject of several dramas, beginning with the silent film The Love of John Ruskin from 1912. There have also been stage and radio plays and an opera. The PRB as a whole have been the subjects of two BBC period dramas. The first, entitled The Love School, was shown in 1975, starring Peter Egan as Millais. The second was Desperate Romantics, in which Millais is played by Samuel Barnett. It was first broadcast on BBC 2 Tuesday, 21 July 2009.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Coronation of Anne Boleyn 1 June 1533

Late 16th Century Portrait of Anne Boleyn by unknown artist

This account of Anne Boleyn's coronation was written by the Tudor chronicler Edward Hall.

Henry only provided coronations for his first two wives. Katharine of Aragon shared his coronation in 1509; Anne's lavish ceremony took place on 29 May 1533. She would be executed almost exactly three years later.

The coronation was not a success, despite its expense. Anne was not popular. Insults were shouted; mocking laughter was heard. Anne was already two months pregnant with the future Queen Elizabeth I. This undoubtedly hastened her secret marriage and coronation. Henry VIII wanted no one to doubt the legitimacy of his son or the nobility of his parentage.

On Thursday 29 May, 1533 Lady Anne, Marquess of Pembroke, was received as Queen of England by all the Lords of England. And the mayor and aldermen, with all the guilds of the City of London, went to Greenwich in their barges after the best fashion, with also a barge of bachelors of the mayor's guild richly hung with cloth of gold with a great number to wait on her. And so all the lords with the mayor and all the guilds of London brought her by water from Greenwich to the Tower of London, and there the king's grace received her as she landed, and then over a thousand guns were fired at the Tower, and others were fired at Limehouse, and on other ships lying in the Thames.

And on Saturday, the last day of May, she rode from the Tower of London through the City with a goodly company of lords, knights and gentlemen, with all the peers of the realm, richly appareled. She herself rode in a rich chariot covered with cloth of silver, and a rich canopy of cloth of silver borne over her head by the four Lords of the Ports, in gowns of scarlet, followed by four richly hung chariots of ladies; and also several other ladies and gentlewoman riding on horseback, all in gowns made of crimson velvet. And there were various pageant made on scaffolds in the city; and all the guilds were standing in their liveries, every one in order, the mayor and aldermen standing in Cheapside. And when she came before them the Recorder of London made a goodly presentation to her, and then the mayor gave her a purse of cloth of fold with a thousand marks of angel nobles in it, as a present from the whole of the city; and so the lords brought her to the palace of Westminster and left her there that night.

On 1 June Queen Anne was brought from Westminster Hall to St Peter's Abbey in procession, with all the monks of Westminster going in rich copes of gold, with thirteen mitred abbots; and after them all the king's chapel in rich copes with four bishops and two mitred archbishops, and all the lords going in their parliament robes, and the crown borne before her by the duke of Suffolk, and her two sceptres by two earls, and she herself going under a rich canopy of cloth of gold, dressed in a kirtle of crimson velvet decorated with ermine, and a robe of purple velvet decorated with ermine over that, and a rich coronet with a cap of pearls and stones on her head; and the old duchess of Norfolk carrying her train in a robe of scarlet with a coronet of gold on her cap, and Lord Burgh, the queen's Chamberlain, supporting the train in the middle.

After her followed ten ladies in robes of scarlet trimmed with ermine and round coronets of gold on their heads; and next after them all the queen's maids in gowns of scarlet edged with white Baltic fur. And so she was brought to St Peter's church at Westminster, and there set in her high royal seat, which was made on a high platform before the altar. And there she was anointed and crowned queen of England by the archbishop of Canterbury and the archbishop of York, and so sat, crowned, in her royal seat all through the mass, and she offered at the said mass. And when the mass was done they left, every man in his order, to Westminster Hall, she still going under the canopy, crowned, with two sceptres in her hands, my Lord Wiltshire her father, and Lord Talbot leading her, and so dined there; and there was made the most honourable feast that has been seen.

The great hall at Westminster was richly hung with rich cloth of Arras, and a table was set at the upper end of the hall, going up twelve steps, where the queen dined; and a rich cloth of estate hung over her head. There were also four other tables along the hall; and it was railed on every side, from the high dais in Westminster Hall to the platform in the church in the abbey.

And when she went to church to her coronation there was a striped blue cloth spread from the high dais of the king's bench to the high altar of Westminster on which she went.

And when the queen's Grace had washed her hands, then came the duke of Suffolk, high constable for that day and steward of the feast, riding on horseback, richly dressed and decorated, and with him, also riding on horseback, Lord William Howard as deputy for the duke of Norfolk in his office of marshall of England, and there came the queen's service followed by the archbishop's with a certain space between, which was all borne by knights; the archbishop sitting at the queen's board, at the end on her left hand. The earl of Sussex was sewer, earl of Essex carver, earl of Derby cup bearer, earl of Arundel butler, Viscount Lisle panter, and Lord Grey almoner.

Because there is so little we know about the life of Anne Boleyn, it is always frustrating trying to find something new but I think I found atleast something interesting regarding Anne Boleyn's Coronation Day:

Anne Boleyn's copy of Clément Marot’s Le Pastor evangélique

This is an elite copy of Le Pastor evangelique presented to Anne Boleyn, possibly by Jean de Dinteville the French ambassador, on the occasion of her coronation. The major French poet and religious reformer, Clement Marot, customized an existing poem with lines celebrating Henry as a religious reformer and added a final prophecy that the Good Shepherd (Christ) would give Anne a son in Henry's image, whom the couple would live to see grow into manhood. He writes:

‘Oh Anne my lady, Oh incomparable queen
This Good Sheppard who favours you
will give you a son who will be the living image
of the king his father, and he will live and flourish,
until the two of you can see him reach the age when a man is mature'.

The manuscript demonstrates the strength of Anne's links with French religious reformers.

 The falcon pendant to Anne Boleyn' arms was originally silver but is now oxidized.

The Noble Tryumphaunt Coronacyon of Quene Anne - Wyfe unto the Noble Kynge Henry the VIII (printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1533)

A description of Anne Boleyn’s coronation was set down in pamphlet form shortly after the festivities by the London printer Wynkin de Worde. Entitled The Noble Tryumphaunt Coronacyon of Quene Anne - Wyfe unto the Noble Kynge Henry the VIII, it consisted of 11 typeset pages with a rather crude woodcut of a courtly scene on the front cover.

The coronation book is a transcription done by hand of Wynkin de Worde’s pamphlet. The book (measuring 4” x 5”) was done on calfskin vellum with illustrations and miniature portraits in watercolor. Gold leaf was applied throughout.

Man & Monarch Henry VIII, Catalogue edited by Susan Doran, Exhibition guest curated by David Starkey, British Library. Page 151.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments.

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