Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Chronicle (Duke University) features the exhibition
“Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work,” the exhibition housed within the room and the adjacent Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room and Stone Family Gallery. The exhibition displays works from the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, a set of thousands of manuscripts and artifacts related to the history of working women.  [...]
Other notable items include a letter from Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey, a display of books bound or illustrated by women and the memoir of the Chevalière d’Eon, an eighteenth-century French noble who was born a man but lived as a woman for over thirty years. (Matthew Griffin)
The items which are part of the exhibition can be seen online and there are actually two belonging to Charlotte Brontë, a letter which Margaret Smith included in her Letters vol. 1 but cited as 'MS untraced' and which has a lovely couple of sketches.
Brontë, Charlotte
Letter to Ellen Nussey
[Haworth Parsonage, Yorkshire]: 12 November 1840
Charlotte Brontë begins this letter to her lifelong friend with an update on her efforts to secure work as a governess. She goes on to relate a visit from the wife of a curate whose husband ruined their family through his drinking and “treated her and her child savagely.” Brontë attests to her own distaste for the curate even before she knew about his abusive character. Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell quotes this section of the letter in her biography of Brontë, noting that it “shows her instinctive aversion to a particular class of men, whose vices some have supposed she looked upon with indulgence.”
Brontë, Charlotte, Letter to Ellen Nussey, [Haworth Parsonage, Yorkshire]: 12 November 1840, Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Accessed March 26, 2019, https://exhibits2.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/baskin/item/4133
And part of a sampler.
Brontë, Charlotte
[ca. 1840s]
The collection contains a significant gathering of materials written by and relating to Charlotte, Ann, and Emily Brontë. Charlotte used the newly fashionable style of embroidery known as “Berlin woolwork” to create this needlework in wool yarn on canvas. The style was being promoted at a time when a greater number of women had leisure time that might be devoted to decorative needlework. The single sheet patterns were inexpensive and easy to translate to the canvas. The design relates to a watercolor by Charlotte Brontë, circa 1831–1832, now in the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Brontë, Charlotte, [Flowers], [ca. 1840s], Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Accessed March 26, 2019, https://exhibits2.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/baskin/item/4131
The Telegraph and Argus features Branwell Brontë's artistic endeavours.
He's often known as the ‘forgotten Brontë’, outshadowed by his famous literary sisters. But had Branwell Brontë’s work as an artist been recognised, would he have been so self-destructive?
Colin Neville is the founder and curator of website Not Just Hockney, showcasing 375 artists, past and present, with a Bradford connection.
Here Colin pays tribute to Branwell, whose work is exhibited at Haworth’s Brontë Parsonage Museum and now [for many years now] also at the National Portrait Gallery in London:
If he could have anticipated this honour in his lifetime, it may have extended his life - which became more aimless, desolate and self-destructive with every passing year until his early death.
As the only son of the family, the ‘bright star’, there was pressure on him to succeed in life. But at what? He did not possess the strength of faith to follow his father as a curate. His talents, in common with his sisters, inclined him in a literary and artistic direction.
His father paid for him and his sisters to have drawing lessons, in 1829-30 from John Bradley, a Keighley artist, then, in 1834, from William Robinson, a society portrait painter.
Rev Brontë paid Robinson two guineas per lesson - an enormous sum then - which may have (according to Brontë biographer Dr Juliet Barker) caused the penurious Robinson to encourage Branwell beyond his talents to aspire to be a professional artist.
In 1835, aged 18, convinced that art was the career direction to take, Branwell drafted a letter of application to the Royal Academy. However, there is no evidence the letter was sent, and no record of such a letter received by the Royal Academy.
It is likely that the Rev Brontë would have found it financially difficult to support Branwell in London.
Between 1835 and 1838, Branwell pursued a literary career but in 1838 came back to his artistic ambitions and established a studio at Fountain Street, Bradford.
He painted portraits of his landlord and landlady and other Bradford worthies introduced by the Rev William Morgan, a family friend.
However, after less than a year, Branwell had given up the studio, and any hopes of making a living from portrait painting.
He enjoyed alcohol-fuelled social encounters with other artists and writers in Bradford, but it seems he did not have the persistence or temperament to succeed as an artist.
It is likely that more affluent clients would have gone to Leeds, or London, to find a professional artist. It is also likely that Branwell’s network of friends dried up as a source of work and that he lacked the drive to pursue new commissions.
Branwell’s art was often at its most engaging when he worked spontaneously, responding to his emotions, rather than to order.
His life after his retreat from portrait painting was a downward spiral, with spells of short-lived work as a clerk and tutor punctuated by bouts of drunkeness and addiction to opiates.
He died at Haworth Parsonage in 1848, most likely of tuberculosis, his body weakened by alcoholism and drug addiction.
One of his final sketches presents a self-summary of his life: Our Lady of Greif [sic]. (Emma Clayton)
The Times reviews the Van Gogh and Britain exhibition at Tate Britain.
The exhibition is in two halves. In the first, a visitor will discover a Van Gogh who spoke four languages fluently; who loved literature, especially the “quivering” mysteries of Shakespeare, the emotion of Brontë, the social realism of Dickens; who immersed himself in London’s cultural life — the four paintings that had the most impact on him, including Constable’s Valley Farm and Millais’s Chill October — are among several of the now gathered; who, while in London, discovered the value of prints and would eventually build up a collection of more than 2,000, using their images as models from which he would develop his own style. (Rachel Campbell-Johnston)
And so does The Independent.
What’s perhaps surprising is that it was the literary, rather than artistic, culture that excited van Gogh most. His letters make 100 (usually very positive) mentions of British novels and poems – by Dickens, Tennyson, George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë and others. (Alastair Smart)
A contributor to The Epoch Times thinks about the books she would and wouldn't like to be in.
Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë (1816–1855, 1818–1848, 1820–1849, English)
👎 I would always rather be happy than be in their books.
These gals can write! But they can write me out of their novels. Gothic romance and melodrama is not for everyone. The damp English weather may not have been conducive to good health and cheerfulness for these young ladies, but it did wonders for their creative imagination. As a potential character in their books, I opt for less of the moors. (Susannah Pearce)
Aimee Johnston, a ‘barefoot bookseller’ in the Maldives, writes in The Irish Times about her experience.
In school, I had incredibly passionate English teachers. They spoke about fiction with such fervour, they spoke about made-up places and made-up people as if they were real, as if they mattered. They taught me that they did. They introduced me to Wide Sargasso Sea and the writing of Jean Rhys. It was the first time I considered the importance of writing, of voices and landscapes and lives different to my own. Rhys was writing in response, writing to tell the world they couldn’t define who she was. At 17, nothing had struck me as more powerful, and I wanted to tell as many people about it as I could. Evidently, I still do.
The Herald (Scotland) has an obituary on the singer and songwriter Scott Walker.
There was always something slightly different, something slightly mysterious about the Walker Brothers and their songs, which sound as fresh, as edgy, as poignant today as the day they were cut. Scott and John laid down some great harmonies.
It was not just that this was good pop music - these guys were young, darkly handsome (no Ringo in this group), and with a real sense of drama both in the music, which combined melody and a pounding beat, and in the presentation. It went beyond drama to tragedy. This was Heathcliff and Byron reincarnated as pop.


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