Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Home Quartette: Mrs Vernon Lushington and Her Children, Arthur Hughes, 1883

It is 1883 and you find yourself living next door to delightful Mrs Vernon Lushington and her charming, talented daughters ... now admit it, don't you just hate them? Mamma is a Victorian Tiger Mother, relentless at promoting the young ladies' talents - and it's so much more economical than shopping at Liberty when you can run up a matching trio of green velvet Aesthetic frocks out of the drawing-room curtains. No visitor escapes without being performed at, not to mention a parting lecture from Mamma on the perils of corsets. What a shame that the young gentlemen who sign her anti-tight-lacing petitions have such clammy hands.
(Now I've just Googled them out of curiosity. The real Mrs Lushington died suddenly the year after this portrait was painted and Kitty, the eldest daughter, later became the inspiration for Virginia Woolf's Clarissa Dalloway.)
Miss Anna Alma-Tadema, 1883, by her father
Fifteen is an awkward age and that shell necklace looks as if it was made in the schoolroom after the grown-ups had oysters for dinner.

Jane 'Jeanie' Elizabeth Nassau Senior, GF Watts, 1857-58, 
Mrs Nassau Senior, the model for Dorothea Brooke, was the first female civil servant - but I don't suppose she wore her purple dressing gown to the office.

Alice in Wonderland, George Dunlop Leslie, 1879

I've always had a soft spot for this painting and it was a nice surprise to come across it unexpectedly - and, anyway, I've always hankered after that sofa.

The Aesthetic Dress exhibition at the Watts Gallery is tiny but I really enjoyed it. It doesn't seem to matter that Watts is a painter I can't bring myself to love because the gallery itself is such a delight, especially at this time of year with the surrounding woods full of celandines, anemones and violets. For once we'd come on the right day for a tour of Limnerslease, the artist's Arts and Crafts house, with a very knowledgeable guide whose enthusiasm brought the place alive.


Ann said...

Always enjoy your blogs Mary and this is no exception. You seem to go to all the exhibitions I have on 'the list' and I am really impressed that you manage to go early. I am usually rushing up in the last weeks or missing them completely. Thanks for the timely reminder of the cammelia festival which I managed to catch in its last week and for the introduction to the dahlia papers.

I didn't know about Limnerslease but will definitely try and get there too on the right day.

mary said...

Hello, Ann. I find if I don't go early - when it's fresh in my mind - then I'm scurrying in on the last day! But I never catch up with everything I mean to see. I'm glad you caught the camellias in time - weren't they lovely?
It's worth timing a visit to catch LImnerslease. It seemed to put everything in context.