rose marie

Today’s rose is Rose-Marie, available here, very like yesterday’s rose but one can’t have too many of these glorious white roses. And tomorrow it will be the David Austin rose which rampages over the Persephone Books garden!


It seems very trivial merely to have roses on the Post when we should be commemorating the D-Day landings by quoting from Vere Hodgson or Mollie Panter-Downes. But roses are a crucial part of life and would have been in 1944. This rose is called Desdemona.


This rose is called Olivia and is available here. Really, at this moment of political doom and gloom the only thing to do is plant roses. And eat chocolate. And perhaps get a puppy (we are planning to do so). Apart from reading novels of course. We are having an Alice Adams binge, she was SO brilliant but  perhaps a bit left-field for most of our British readers; quite apart from the fact that there is a young modern novelist with the same name.


The roses are simply extraordinary in the UK at the moment, even in our tiny back garden at the shop (they will feature on Friday’s Post). For the other days this week here are some David Austin stars. Today The Alnwick Rose.

The Laden Table c.1908 by Edouard Vuillard 1868-1940

‘Vuillard has been overlooked because – for all his innovations, which influenced subsequent artists, including Matisse – he foregrounded feminine domesticity: a subject that male art historians have tended to ignore. “Vuillard engaged profoundly with aspects of his mother’s life – and, indeed, of women’s domestic life, in general,” Francesca Berry writes. “In the 1890s, that was unique.”’ Indeed: it was unique to choose to paint a subject like The Laden Table.


madame v and pregnant sister

‘Early critics noticed the intimate, mysterious nature of Vuillard’s everyday domestic scenes, which have a subtly theatrical quality (he was a keen devotee of Ibsen and Strindberg, and designed theatrical costumes and scenery). As one writer put it in the 1890s, his pictures speak, as it were, “in a low tone, suitable to confidences”. Yet, for all their quiet modesty, and debt to traditional domestic interiors by Vermeer, Vuillard’s “intimiste” paintings (as they are known) have a surprisingly radical quality. In part, this is due to the way he manipulated paint: frequently, his brushwork appears crude and unresolved. He also painted on cheap, unconventional surfaces, such as cardboard. His subject matter  was avant-garde, since, in an unexpected way, it dramatised modern life. Before Vuillard, few artists depicted bourgeois women performing housework – that was done by servants. Moreover, by painting his mother toiling in her dressmaking workshop, alongside the seamstresses she employed, Vuillard was shining a light upon something hitherto undocumented: the thousands of women in Paris’s garment industry who worked from home. The Lullaby (1894), which Vuillard kept until his death – after which it was acquired by Picasso – provides a good example: Madame Vuillard, seen in profile, watches over the artist’s sister, Marie, her body hidden beneath a vibrant diamond-patterned bedspread, her face a milky blur. At the time, Marie was pregnant, and the painting documents a serious illness that sadly resulted in a stillbirth.’

madame vuillard arranging her hair 1900

‘The snapshot effect here suggests that Vuillard based this painting on one of the numerous family photographs that he took with his Kodak camera.  The artist’s mother ran a dressmaking business from their home and Vuillard’s style was influenced by the textiles that surrounded him… Early fans of the painter intuitively understood this relationship between his art and textiles: “He seems to embroider his canvases with glorious, old-fashioned wools,” wrote one Belgian critic, in a review of an exhibition held in Brussels in 1901, referring to Madame Vuillard Arranging Her Hair (1900)’ (Alastair Sooke in the Telegraph here.)


The Vuillard exhibition has opened at the Holburne in Bath. This is how the Telegraph began its review last week: ‘Edouard Vuillard rarely left the Paris apartment he shared with his elderly mother and at first sight his paintings appear inconsequential: a woman standing in blurred profile in a doorway, a man’s back silhouetted against patterned wallpaper – all rendered in rather blotchy oil paint.’ But they are not inconsequential, not at all, the paintings are extraordinary. This is Two Seamstresses in the Workroom 1893 normally at the National Gallery of Scotland.

Friday Gilman

Interior 1917 by Harold Gilman is owned by the British Council – which means it is lent to British outposts abroad – well it would have been before the heartbreak that is Brexit. This was painted around the time that Gilman married for the second time. Alas, two years later he had died. (Next week more domestic interiors, by Vuillard; but not on Monday as it is a Bank Holiday in the UK.)


Interior with Artist’s Mother was painted just before Gilman’s death, in 1917-18. There is another painting of his mother reading here.

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