Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's The Story?

Today's spotlight is on narrative paintings (paintings which tell a story or represent key features or events of a story).

Nameless and Friendless
by Emily Mary Osborn
A widow ventures into an unfamiliar world to try to sell a painting.

The Orrery
by Joseph Wright
Here, a scientist/philosopher uses an orrery (an early form of planetarium) to explain the workings of the solar system. As the Derby Museum and Art Gallery says, "The audience listening to the philosopher consists of ordinary, middle-class people and their faces express surprise and wonderment at what they are hearing. It is important to remember that it was still relatively recently that Newton had claimed that the planets moved around the sun - and not around the earth."

A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge (1852)
by John Everett Millais
On St. Bartholomew's Day, 1572, a massacre of French Protestants (known as Huguenots) began. Here, a young woman tries to tie a white armband on her love so that he can pass for Catholic. He, however, pulls it off.
The flip side -- Millais' painting of a Catholic man being called to go kill Protestants on St. Bartholomew's Day.

Two by John Callcott Horsley:

Rent Day at Haddon Hall
by John Callcott Horsley

The Banker's Private Room Negotiating a Loan, 1870
by John Callcott Horsley

The Mockery of the Owl
by Jan van Kessel
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

And in the "Where DO you get this stuff, Tabatha?" Department, we have a video of Queen's The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke, written by the late, great Freddie Mercury, combined with shots of Richard Dadd's painting The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke. The Fairy Feller is a woodcutter, and his master stroke is the one he uses to cut a nut open for Queen Mab's carriage. (Queen Mab was a fairy in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet).

Mercutio says of Queen Mab:
"Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court'sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies ‘ lips, who straight on kisses dream..."

The small oil painting took nine years for Dadd to almost finish (the left corner is not completed). (Grim info that I shouldn't leave out: he painted it while he was in a psychiatric hospital for killing his father.)


M Pax said...

Oh, I still miss Mr. Mercury. I was fortunate to see Queen in concert as a teeny bopper. Fab show.

The paintings your picked out are wonderful. I love the feeling that they caught a moment in time like a snapshot. Very thought provoking.

Drivin' Down said...

Excellent choice of story-telling paintings, and an especially interesting juxtaposition of both sides of the Huguenot massacre.

And, of course, Freddie Mercutio, er, Mercury's piece was very cool.