Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:48 am by M.   No comments
The Telegraph reports that the so-called 'earliest known painting of the Brontë Sisters' has been sold. The article seems to be written only reading the press release of the auctioneers, therefore it seems appropriate to double check some 'facts'.
A painting acquired “by mistake” after an auction house mix-up has sold for £50,000 after it was identified as the earliest known portrait of the Bronte sisters.
Actually it was £40,550 (£50,038 including buyers premium).
Landseer is thought to have met Charlotte, Anne and Emily in 1833 when they visited Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire, where he was an artist in residence. At the time he was a young painter, yet to become a favourite of Queen Victoria. The portrait is dated 1834.
This is pure speculation and it has never been substantiated in fact.
 Clues in the picture include the detail of “Charlotte’s protruding front tooth” and jewellery that matches objects on display in the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth, Mr Humbert said.
Again, this is wishful thinking at its best.
“We are never going to be able to prove anything 100 per cent because this is a cold case,” he said.
“But it has been widely accepted by the establishment as a Landseer portrait of the Brontës, as shown by the fact that it came from nowhere and sold for £50,000.” (Anita Singh)
Not widely and decidedly not by the Brontë experts and institutions.

We leave the best for last. This comment by the auctioneer on BBC News/Daily Express is priceless:
"The evidence was compelling that this is the Brontes as painted by Landseer and its successful sale has proved that research and factual evidence will overcome apathy and negativity."  (...)
There's too many details for naysayers to say this is not right.
On Keighley News we also read:
Brontë Parsonage Museum executive director Kitty Wright declined to comment on the sale of the painting.
Of course, solid proof, no mere speculation or wishful thinking aka 'alternative facts', has nothing to do when there is a successful sale. Paraphrasing naysayer Carl Sagan: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary (apathetic and negative as it may be) evidence. It speaks volumes that the most extraordinary evidence supplied is that someone has paid 50000 GBP.

The Antiques Trade Gazette also covers the news in a more objective way.

Keighley News talks about some of the most ambitious projects of the Brontë Society:
A centre for women’s writing could be built in an underground former reservoir above the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
And a long-lost barn could be rebuilt alongside the Haworth attraction to house a visitor centre dedicated to the famous literary family.
The proposed projects – both in the very early stages – have been revealed in interviews this month by Brontë Society executive director Kitty Wright. (...)
The ideas for new buildings on land owned by the Brontë Society near the museum were put forward in the Brontë Society’s recent successful bid to become an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation.
Kitty said that such accreditation with the Arts Council allowed the society spend time and money looking at the feasibility of such projects, but stressed major funding would have to be found to actually carry them out.
She said the large Victorian underground reservoir lay on land behind the parsonage.
She said: “It was built after Patrick Brontë commissioned the Babbage report into public health in Haworth. The village needed a fresh water supply.
“It’s fantastic to have the reservoir for its own historical reasons, with its links with Patrick Brontë."
Kitty said the Brontë Society would have to carry out detailed investigations into utility supplies, engineering, drainage and access, as well as environmental surveys and extensive consultation with local people. (...)
“We have to keep looking to secure or future but we have to be very clear about preserving the things that make us special. It’s absolutely about being true to our heritage and finding a way of expressing that.”
Kitty stressed that the other idea, rebuilding the barn, was only a tentative suggestion at the moment.
During the Brontës’ lifetimes the barn stood on a small hill between the Parsonage Museum and the car park, but there are now mature trees on the land. (David Knights)
Also in Keighley News, great news for the Parsonage:
The international popularity of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth is expanding across the entire county.
Yorkshire saw a 30 per cent increase in overseas visitors in the first three months of 2017, with 267,000 people spending £99 million.
International spend in Yorkshire is almost double the national average which is up 16 per cent year on year.
The Brontë museum recently reported a 24 per cent increase in visitors during the Easter weekend including its busiest Easter Saturday to 10 years.
This was blamed on the ‘Brontë buzz’ both locally and around the world from the ongoing five-year bicentennial celebrations for the births of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne.
More Haworth news. The Haworth Primary School has collaborated in the Claire Twomey Wuthering Heights - A Manuscript project:
Pupils at the school visited the Haworth museum this month to each write a line with support from volunteer Stuart Davies.
Sue Newby, the museum Learning Officer, said ‘Wuthering Heights – A Manuscript’ had captured the imagination of visitors from all over the world.
She said: “We were really pleased to offer pupils from our local primary school the opportunity to sit in the house where Emily wrote her famous novel and take their turn to copy out a line.
“All the children seemed to relish the sense of occasion and we hope they will return next year with their families to see the finished manuscript.” (David Knights in Keighley News)
Haworth's foot-paths have been cleaned:
Parish councillors have spearheaded the clearing of footpaths around Haworth.
Work has been carried out to improve access to footpaths that become impassable due to poor grounding and overgrown weeds.
Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council worked with Bradford Council and Community Payback to carry out the work.
The footpath at North Street, leading from the Sun Inn car park behind the West Lane churches, was strimmed.
Work on the footpath from Cold Street to Woodlands Rise has included weedkiller treatment, and footpaths from Heathcliff flats to the Bronte Parsonage Museum have also been improved. (David Knights in Keighley News)
The Hindu's Book Shelf includes today Wuthering Heights:
Emily Brontë's magnum opus Wuthering Heights showcased the hypocrisy, social classes and gender inequality in the Victorian Era.
Most of the authors, especially in the 19th century, had to write no fewer than four-five books to create a space for them in the revered literary circles. For some, even 20 books might have not sufficed. But, that is not the case of the daughter of an Irish clergyman, who spent much of her life in Hawthorn (sic), England.
Considered one of the best women authors who have put their thoughts to paper, Emily Bronte was as intense, intellectual and elusive as her solo book Wuthering Heights . Alas, she didn't know the profound legacy she was to leave behind, as she had died suddenly at the age of 30. (Arathi M) (Read more)
Psychology Today on ghosts:
When I was seven years old, my aunt Hazel, the youngest of my mother's sisters read me the first two chapters of “Jane Eyre” in the big green nursery with its black board across one wall, at Crossways, the house where my father had just died. You will remember how Jane is carried off unceremoniously and locked in the Red Room where she thinks she sees her uncle’s ghost.
It seems a strange choice of lecture for a seven year old, though my sister who was present was two and older than I.
It had a terrifying effect on me, one that has lasted all my life, and perhaps led me, too, to become a writer in an effort to render active what I had submitted to passively. Mr Reed, Jane’s uncle, in the book, like my own father just down the corridor from the nursery in the big bedroom, with the mauve velvet curtains, has died in this somber, silent room with its crimson curtains.Jane believes her uncle has come back to see if his wife, Jane’s cruel aunt, Mrs. Reed, has carried out his death-bed wishes and is taking good care of little Jane, his sister’s child. (Sheila Kohler)
Pen names in Jezabel:
The Wall Street Journal reports that the tides have turned since the Brontë sisters and George Elliot were publishing under manly names. Or perhaps they haven’t turned—for instance, read Catherine Nichols’s Jezebel essay on the different reception she received when submitting her work as somebody named “George”—so much as there is a huge market demand for psychological “Girl Who” thrillers, often featuring dead or missing women, written largely by women for female audiences. And the guys—and their publishers—want in. (Kelly Faircloth)
And Daily Star:
Anonymity can be liberating. The pen names Currer and Ellis Bell, respectively, allowed Charlotte and Emily Brontë to use influences from their local neighbourhood to craft Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. George Elliott, the famed writer of Middlemarch, was actually Mary Anne Evans. (Sarah Anjum Bari)
Austen vs Brontë tidbits:
Women like Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and especially the Brontë sisters. Charlotte, Emily and Anne are in the middle of 200th anniversaries of their own, as we remember the bicentenaries of their births in the years 1816 to 1820. Along with Austen they crafted brilliant works of genius that are the equal of any novels written by men, and in the public’s eye the Brontës and Jane have become inextricably linked.
I once asked one of the hard working guides at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth what question they are asked more than any other. It was ‘Which of the Brontë sisters wrote Pride and Prejudice?’ followed closely by, ‘Is this where Jane Austen wrote her novels?’ (Nick Holland in The History Press) (Read more)
Treinta años después, en 1847, Charlotte Brontë publicaba Cumbres borrascosas y declaraba que no entendía el interés que despertaban las historias de Austen, a las que calificaba peyorativamente de “jardines bellos, cultivados y aseados” (Rodrigo González in La Tercera) (Translation)
 The nouns are harsh; it’s the verb, though—be prevailed on—that’s key. Even in its superficial passivity, it understands that Lizzy, at least at this moment, is the one with the power. Charlotte Brontë once scoffed of Austen that “the Passions are perfectly unknown to her”; this was, it seems, a misreading. Austen was acutely aware not merely of such Passions, but also, indeed, of the freedoms they could offer. (Megan Garber in The Atlantic)
Certo, nell’Ottocento [Darcy] ha dovuto vedersela con l’imperfetto Rochester, l’eroe romantico di Charlotte Brontë, ma dalla seconda metà del Novecento regna incontrastato nelle fantasie femminili, anche quelle ormai contaminate dall’hardcore. (Il Dubbio)(Translation)
Para muitos, Austen é a rainha da literatura inglesa. Bem... Melhor deixar esse assunto para outro momento. Não é intenção provocar os fãs das irmãs Brontë com esse fato. Porém, a autora consegue transitar entre a Academia e o grande público, composto pelo leitor comum - para citar o termo de Virginia Woolf, que inclusive era leitora e admiradora de Austen. (Ricelly Jáder in Diário de Nordeste) (Translation)
Anders als etwa die Brontë-Schwestern flüchtet sie sich beim Schreiben nicht in eine Fantasiewelt, sondern bewegt sich dicht an der Realität. Allerdings karikiert und parodiert sie ihre Mitmenschen, deren Beziehungen und auch die herrschenden Verhältnisse nach Herzenslust. (Stephanie Pieper in NDR) (Translation)
The death of the film director George A. Romero is reported in this article of Metro which traces a genealogy of zombie films:
George A. Romero didn’t invent the word “zombie,” but he might as well have. Before he unleashed “Night of the Living Dead” upon an unsuspecting world in 1968, the word didn’t instantly conjure up what it would mean from then on out: white terror, hungry corpses, gnawed-upon flesh. “Zombie” simply meant the undead, the deceased reanimated. Sometimes they were bad: Frankenstein’s monster was a zombie. Sometimes they were not: The blank-faced, not-quite-dead wife of Val Lewton’s “I Walked with a Zombie” (a stealth adaptation of “Jane Eyre,” amazingly) was also a zombie. (Matt Prigge)
Image Journal interviews film director Rodrigo García:
I was fascinated by the stories in the Bible, and these are stories that live in the realm of stories, in our heads. I think the world where Hitler lives is the same world where Captain Ahab or Jane Eyre live. We don’t know them. We’ve never seen them. I am not trying to say that Ahab is Hitler or that Jesus is like Madame Bovary, just a fiction; but in our heads, they are all stories. (Gareth Higgins and Scott Teems)
La Repubblica (Italy) interviews the writer Karin Slaughter:
Come ti sei rapportata all’ondata di thriller psicologici che presentano protagoniste femminili?  "Non credo si possa parlare di un’ondata. In realtà si tratta di un fenomeno letterario che ha origini lontane, credo fin da Cime tempestose. (Eva Grippa) (Translation)
Linda's BookBag recommends A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf by Emily Midorikjawa and Emma Claire Sweeney. CBC does the same with Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley. The Book Lovers Boudoir hated Wuthering Heights. Vesna Armstrong Photography posts recent pictures of Ponden Hall and Brontë country.

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