Friday, October 17, 2008

Delicious Autumn


"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." -- George Eliot

OK, OK, I hear you. A few Peeper readers have written to point out the similarities between Cardinal John Henry Newman (see post below) and the Crypt Keeper from the old HBO series Tales From the Crypt, and to beg me to replace that image in their minds with something, er, prettier.

So, as an antidote, here's one of my favorite paintings, the beautiful and serene Chill October, painted by John Everett Millais in Scotland around 1870. It's currently part of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's spectacular and priceless collection of Victorian art.

Millais attached the following note to the back of the painting:

"Chill October was painted from a backwater of the Tay just below Kinfauns, near Perth. The scene, simple as it is, had impressed me years before I painted it. The traveller between Perth and Dundee passes the spot where I stood. Danger on either side -- the tide which once carried away my platform and the trains which threatened to blow my work into the river. I chose the subject for the sentiment it always conveyed to my mind, and I am happy to think that the transcript touched the public in a like manner, although many of my friends at the time were at a loss to understand what I saw to paint in such a scene. I made no sketch for it, but painted every touch from nature, on the canvas itself, under irritating trials of wind and rain."

Another Millais work, Autumn Leaves (at left) seems perfect for this Friday, surrounded as I am (in Michigan) by crisp air and flaming autumn trees. Millais wanted this painting to inspire "the deepest religious reflection" in its viewers. Today, it's putting me in mind of caramel apples and candy corn. Sorry, Sir John.


Resources:

"Poetic Encounters: Kathleen Jamie on Millais's Chill October" (Tate Britain)

"Sir John Everett Millais's Landscapes -- The Pursuit of Truth and Beauty in Nature" (The Victorian Web)



3 comments:

john hopper said...

Thanks for the painting. Yes Cardinal Newman was beginning to freak me out, not a good look for him.

I used to live in Dundee when I was working on my textile degree. I would go for long walks up and down the Tay, and they are some of my favourite memories. The painting is quite accurate in its depiction, so thanks again.

Nothing Elegant said...

I just wanted to say thank you for your amazing blog. I am reading for my PhD exams in Victorian and Modern literature right now, and it is nice to go to your blog to get some fun, cultural tidbits I don't necessarily get in classes/books. I have given you an award. You can link to my blog to read the details of the award: http://nothing-elegant.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Now that I live down South I'm missing the Great Lakes' every season. Thanks for the Fall reminder.

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