Archive for January, 2011

Happy Birthsdays to you.

26/01/2011

{No the title isn’t spelling mistake…read on.}

It’s my birthday today!

Some people my age don’t have them any more but I am not one of those. I don’t care how many years I have been here or about going backwards ( like some people do with their ages), I still like my birthday. Actually I am lucky and nearly every year have a birthday week or sometimes month with things strung out as far as I can push it! 🙂 This is because my friends and family are so far flung that it takes a while to get everyone in!

Enough of this frivolity.

I thought on my birthday I would introduce you to my favourite dummy board.

If I had a lot of money and she was for sale…this is the very little girl I would own. Of all the dummy boards I have seen ( and that is now in excess of 500!) This is the one I would live with.

Girl with orange, c. 1630 Flemish, Wilberforce House, Yorkshire.

She is nothing short of delightful.

Stephen and I recently went up to the York Festival of Folk Dance with our Brackley Morris Men and took the opportunity to go and look at dear little Alys ( as we have named her ) at the house where the famous Mr Wilberforce ( he of the anti slavery campaign) used to live. Actually they have quite a few dummy boards, some interesting, some a puzzle and some downright ugly! 🙂

Alys is the best one in the collection, no doubt about it.

BUT she isn’t actually kosher….”Aw…. that’s sad” I hear you cry!

Yes it is. But it doesn’t make her any less lovely…or any less convincing.

When I first saw this picture, I had no idea of how large she was. It’s hard to judge with the background and I had no details at first. SO, I assumed she was a full sized child of about four or five. She is in fact quite tiny and only about 3 feet high.

Does this ring alarm bells? It should. If she was a figure from the 17th century, and her costume tells us about 1630 Flemish, she would be life sized. No point in having a dummy board, at the beginning of the art form, when they were supposed to be visual jokes designed to make people jump and laugh, a bit on the wee side for reality. So, she can’t be what she is telling us she is…ie: a real 17th century dummy board.

What she can be is a real 17th century portrait!

There is no doubt that a girl like this lived somewhere in Belgium or Holland at the beginning of the 17th century and she was painted then, perhaps in with her brothers and sisters. Then at some time in the late 18th or the 19th century she was cut out of her canvas and mounted on wood to become a dummy board.

Divided from her siblings perhaps….to stand alone.

Aw… again…..

Never mind she makes a super dummy board and so sweet.

She holds an orange, at this time, a rare and valuable fruit,  in one hand and a small flower in the other. She wears an over skirt and bodice of brown silk over a stiffened frame, a stomacher of the same material and an under petticoat of tan silk upon which has been applied flattened woven gold guipuire ribbon. Her cuffs and  collar are of the highest quality dense Flemish bobbin lace, the  tiny patterned variety of which became fashionable in the early 17th century and she wears the coral bracelets that a young child wore in those days to protect them from evil. We can see one little black shoe peeping from under her dress and the curling blond tendrils which escape her close cap. She is from a wealthy family and is probably protestant. If you look at the post The Girl in the Red Dress, you will see what I mean about being Protestant. The other little girl is wearing a cross ( something definitely not allowed to Protestants) and her costume is much more colourful.

Before I knew quite how small Alys really was I painted one for myself…life sized…and this dummy board lives with us in our dining room. Here she is taken standing outside the Auricula theatre in my garden.

Alys in the garden

And of course I must paint a teeny tiny one mustn’t I?

Alys..three inches. Now belongs to Sue and John Hodgson, those two experts of miniature furniture and painting fame.

And guess what? I painted her, well finished her, on my birthday in January 2006. So she shares a birthday with me.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALYS!

She’s a lot older than me < ahem> you understand!

😉

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A Gathering of Gainsboroughs.

13/01/2011

We shall draw a veil over the scene at Sir Bumptious Grandly’s house and fly forward to the late 18th century to see what has happened to the miniature dummy board figures that Lyn Silcock bought before Christmas in my Massive Never to be Repeated Sale.

Lyn has kindly sent me some photos of her dollshouse and where she has put the two Gainsborough figures she acquired and the one early 18th century figure of the Rotterdam Sweeper, ( though truthfully she could be the sort of maid anyone might have from the early to the end of the 18th century. Their costumes didn’t change much.)

The figure of Lady Sheffield, pretty in blue, is standing in the Dining Room. ( Please click the pictures for a larger version).

Lady Sheffield, PastMastery dummy board 5 inches.

This life sized dummy board based on the picture painted by Thomas Gainsborough  ( 1727-1788), in 1785 of Sophia Charlotte, Lady Sheffield when she was just 18, was sold into in private collection in the U.S.A. in 1985, from a museum collection. It was common practice for dummy board artists to insert the face of the patron or his wife or children, into existing  historical costumes depicted on famous paintings
and many boards of this kind were made in the late Georgian era and into the 19th century.Some of them are really exceptional as is this very decorative and beautifully rendered portrait of a lady of whom we know absolutely nothing, except that she is modelled on a very elegant Gainsborough portrait now in the Rothschild collection, at Waddesdon Manor.

I live a stone’s throw from this beautiful house and go there often, not just for the beautiful collection of antiques there, nor the lovely and friendly exotic birds in the equally lovely garden but for the CREAM TEAS which are to expire for. You have never seen such enormous scones. ( But I digress…..) So that is why I know that this dummy board does not have the same face as the original.

Waddesdon, between Aylesbury and Oxford.

Lyn also tells me that there is a feature in the monthly magazine Period Ideas ( for those of us who love Period houses this is a MUST ), on Waddesdon and in one of the illustrations in the article, there is a reflection of this portrait of Lady Sheffield in a mirror. How very Romantic! If you don’t buy the magazine then have a peek when you next go into W.H. Smith’s or your local newsagent. I would have put a link to the online magazine here…but there doesn’t seem to be one.

Below we have my favourite Gainsborough figure. Or should that be figures. This is the most complicated one I have ever done. Two ladies and a dog painted in 2008.

The Girls in the Sitting Room

Sadly, it’s not an existing dummy board but one of the the largest PastMastery miniature figures I executed and one based on the portrait of Thomas Gainsborough’s  (1727- 1788) two daughters Margaret
and Mary  painted in 1777. I have long thought this picture would make a wonderful subject as the shape is good and the costume a real challenge- it’s a shame we know nothing about the little dog!
Fashionable ladies in all centuries had themselves painted as dummy boards, though  few really higher class ones have survived from a much earlier age. Anecdotal evidence suggested that they were so fashionable,late 18th and early 19th century dummy board makers even cut out suitable existing figures from older oil paintings and mounted them on wood, as dummy boards. What cannibalisation.These two girls though are still alright and are in the Whitbread  collection.

On the left we see Margaret ( born 1748). She married an oboe player and was so unhappy in her marriage that her mental balance became disturbed. The other daughter, Mary was born in 1752 and remained unmarried, devoting herself to her sick sister’s care. This is one of Gainsborough’s most endearing portraits, to my mind, though the art critics talk of it as being slick and stiff! Hmmmmm?

Finally, here is The Rotterdam Sweeper, that little hussy, with her broom, making light work of the dust on the kitchen floor.

The Rotterdam Sweeper, c. 1730 5 inches

This figure is doing exactly what she should be doing. Lurking in the shadows, of a dimly lit room. See how effective it is?

There are many sweeping lady dummy board figures, ( as you know those who have followed this blog for a while ) some dating back as far as the middle of the 17th century. This life -sized Dutch maid dates to between 1720 and 1740 and according to records
at the Historical Museum in Rotterdam Holland where she is kept, it is said that she was placed in a corridor or hallway as a visual warning that cleaning was in  progress in the house and that the family or more
properly, the Mistress, was not receiving visitors that day. She is made on one plank of pine and originally had one brace on the reverse at the base. Later in her history a rebated stand has been made for her feet to
sink into. She may have been copied by an English dummy board maker for she has an early 19th century sister figure in the museum at Southwold in Suffolk U.K.

I like this figure.She has a certain spark. It’s probably the way she is looking at you. Few dummy boards do this. They are often engaging something that is, so to speak, over your left shoulder or they are in profile. This one is really looking at YOU and is almost daring you to say something.

Told you…she is a bit of a Madam.

Talking of Madams. 🙂

I haven’t done many Gainsborough figures. When people want figures done of themselves in full sized, they mostly go for the less complicated types of costume as the late 18th century with its satin, lace and embroidery can be quite highly priced in time and effort to execute. ( Notice I didn’t say expensive ).

But here is one figure which is known to you all.

The full sized ( or almost, at nearly 5  foot) Lady Bon, Lady Bonnie Looks. ( actually not her real name at all, but a friend in The U.S.A. who had her portrait painted by me as a Gainsborough lady.)

These photos were taken in my garden and the original portrait is in the Frick Collection in Washington and is of The Honourable Frances Duncombe in 1777. The frock is to die for!

 

Twelfth Night – Beware! ( Part Two)

06/01/2011

And so it is Twelfth Night.

The time when the whole world is topsy turvy.

Our French Chef, M. Yves Grosseteste ( otherwise known as Ivor Bighead ) is busy serving up a Punch that is packed with an absolutely REAL punch. The Maid of All Works down the street a little, Iris Kalot is putting the finishing touches to her ” Fish Pie” which she KNOWS will send her Mistress into paroxysms! The poor Lady Bon can’t abide a fish, she is about to eat, staring at her with glassy eyes! There will be a lot of screaming and yelling in the Grandly and Looks households tonight. And there is not a thing they can do about it. It is all perfectly legitimate and no one should be disciplined for anything they have done especially if it is at the behest of the Master of the Revels or from the Master himself. Oh Dear!

Sir Bumptious…old skinflint that he is, has engaged some ‘entertainment’ for the evening. Not for him the accomplished ( and costly) players of the Globe Theatre, no mention of the Admiral’s Men or the Lord Chamberlain’s men, both troupes “Shakespearean” actors to the ends of their fingers.

No  – he has hired some louts from the Market Square that he saw performing some rumbustious rustic play with dancing bears and ‘maidens’ dressed as Arabic Princesses.

From the York Mystery plays actually but similar to our Rustics.

Here they are now…entering the house yard ( from the back door of course ) and setting up their  < ahem> scenery. A cart with a curtain and a few paltry props made of pasteboard. A hush falls over the assembly. The lights are dim, a drum roll announces the action. The curtain is drawn back. ” ahhhhh”.

Guards of the Kingdom of Bogoff, two 19thc. theatre dummy boards...how apt.

On the back of the cart we see a chair ( seen better days  and rather rickety ) which has been crudely painted with gold paint. Above it is a carved sunburst. This, we are told by the players is to symbolise the throne of  King Tat of that arid Realm -Bogoff. His “daughter “, Princess  Sharlaton, she with the large brown cow eyes peering flutteringly over her veil and wavy lustrous black locks cascading down her back, is to be auctioned off to the man who can rid the Kingdom of the dreaded Beast… ( the man dressed as a bear ). The King, flanked by two guards, sits on his throne and declares

Oh woe to the Kingdom of Bogoff

Is there no one who’s brave and who’s true?

The beast has devoured my peasants

And he’s coming to eat you up too!

Oh dear…. well no…it’s NOT Shakespeare. It’s not even poetry. Still..it’s traditional Twelfth Night fare, a little play of some sort and the onlookers, simple people most, are transfixed. They have rarely seen anything like it. It wasn’t all that long ago when Theatre was a banned entertainment.

Just look at Sir Bumptious! His eyes are like saucers. His hands are fidgety. His brow is beaded in sweat. Can the potion have taken hold so quickly? A glance around the other staff…no…..they are all fixed upon the action with wide eyes.

Sir Bumptious Grandly takes out his handkerchief and coyly flutters it in front of his face. What ever is the matter with him? He smiles inanely and purses his lips. He is blowing a kiss. Princess Sharlaton catches the movement in the crowd; the white hanky fluttering in the darkness and her eyes ( above her veil ) narrow. She cocks her head to the side to see more clearly in the gloom. This only serves to make her more attractive and fey. Sir Bumptious is captivated. Princess Sharlaton shields her eyes from the glare of the torches and it looks as if she is waving at the crowd.

Sir Bumptious loud voice is heard.

In this land of the heathen and pagan

Here’s  one who’ll not labour in vain

I will slay the beast of Bogoff

( who is at this moment lumbering up to the tail of the cart, threatening the maiden with  growling and slashing with sharp, but false, talons)

And the Princess will be mine.

HANG ON A MINUTE!

The players are at a loss. They stand in silence. They are used to the audience booing and hissing. They are immune to the catcalls and whistles. They are even expectant of the odd rotten egg or rock hard dog turd landing in their midst. BUT STEALING THE ACTION? MAKING UP NEW LINES…? DOING A PLAYER OUT OF HIS PART!? The true hero, his mouth poised for the next line is…well…Gobsmacked!

They stare with open mouths as Sir Grandly hobbles, with his bad leg up to the cart and propels himself on to it with his trusty stick.

The Master of Revels is smirking. Any minute now……

Sir Bumptious Grandly goes down, painfully on his knees in front of the Princess.

The other players splutter. He intones.

” Oh princess, you are quite Divine

Give us a kiss and you’ll be mine”

( well Sir Bumptious is no Shakespoke either!)

He leans forward, grasps the ( rather tall ) maiden around the < ahem> area of the buttocks and squeezes. It’s as far up as he can reach.

He closes his eyes and purses his lips. ( Silly Old Codger, Sir Bumptious Grandly is in LOVE! ) He expects the kiss.

He buries his face in the Maiden’s lap…”ahhhhh.”

Uh oh.

Quick as a flash the ‘Maiden’, who of course is no maiden but a strapping lad of fifteen with a pair of  falsies, a falsetto voice and ‘lap’ that is most certainly NOT to be squashed, steps back and takes a swipe at the totally unprepared Knight of the Realm.

Just as the punch is about to land on the chin of  the unsuspecting member of the aristocracy, there is a loud rumble from below him.

And an enormous melifluous fart!

And the lad falters….screws up his face and utters ” PHEWARGH!”

The Master of Revels grins. IT HAS BEGUN!

Mais Oui!

A LOUD SCREAM reverberates around the courtyard.

The Maid of all works Iris…who after this night might be a Maid of NO works, comes flying in through the gate….pursued by a flying fish, and another and …another.

Ah yes….. Lady Bon has been served her dinner!

The Master of Revels twirls his mustache…..and laughs and laughs and laughs.

Mais Oui!

Lady Bon enters the courtyard, the last of the fish in her hand. A mangy dog makes a grab for it.

( Did I say that the players had brought a dog with them?)

Lady Bon Looks, is a cat person, you understand but she has a soft spot for dogs. But not this one. She takes swipe at it. ” Get away you noisome beast!”

The fish lands smack bang in the middle of  M. Grosseteste’s physog!

There are more enormous eructations emanating from the courtyard.

Half the audience are clutching their stomachs, the other half are crossing their legs.Those that are, for the moment, unaffected are holding their noses.

Sir Bumptious Grandly’s household is quite a populous one.

And there is only one outside convenience!

Mais Oui!

Mais wee.

The Lord of Misrule – Prepare! ( part one )

05/01/2011

I thought it was time we wended our way back into the mists of the past to re-visit our old friends from the 17th century.

And one or two from the 18th too.

And since it is Twelfth Night shall we see what they are up to at the end of the Christmas festivities?

Yes…it is Twelfth Night and no…it’s not just a play of that name by one William  Shakespeare. Twelfth Night marks the end of the Winter celebrations which began with the ceremonies of All Hallows Eve…Halloween to you.

A person would be appointed to be the overseer of the festivities and this person would be The Lord Of Misrule.

The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day, even the King and Queen and all those who were highly placed would become the servants and the servants and the peasantry got a chance to see what it was like to GIVE the orders! To a point of course.

Special cakes were baked and eaten. Other food was prepared ( remember this is a lean time of the year… not a lot of food about) and for many, it was a chance to eat drink and make merry, for you never quite knew where your next meal was coming from. Winter was still biting hard.

SO who is to be our Lord of Misrule?

Let’s eavesdrop on the household of the 17th century dummy board, V&A Gentleman with Cane otherwise known as Sir Bumptious Grandly!

Ah poor thing!

Ah yes…here he is….and Oh dear… I think he has been overdoing the port a bit over Christmas… maybe he has gout….he seems to have a gammy leg!

” Gammy leg indeed” we hear him cry…” Nothin’ to do with the port. Damned icy steps.. I’ll crack the head of the servant , if I ever find him, who failed to sweep the step properly and lay down salt.”

( Actually we happen to know that Sir Bumptious is rather mean and he forbade his poor servants to use up the rather expensive salt rations, on the outside steps. Hmmmmm)

” Goin’ about my lawful business at the coffee house and th’exchange was Hellish labyrinthine I can tell you. Me Sedan men were slippin’ and slidin’ all over. And it was Mortal cold …I can tell you.

The sedan chair with a lighter load than Sir Bumptious

( Sir Bumptious is not known for his plain speaking.

Shall we translate. ) ( See I like Coffee, I like Tea )

” Going to work at the Coffee House…no he doesn’t wait on tables but sits around drinking the stuff till it sends him dizzy, talking to his friends, playing cards and speculating on stocks and shares..oh and pinching the bottom of the (only) lady who is allowed in, The Coffee Drawer or maker of the drinks. The Exchange of course is where he goes to actually fiddle about with his money.Labrynthine? He just means it took him a long time to get there and that his Sedan chair men, those poor unfortunates who are engaged to lift him up in a covered seat and ferry him to and fro, were rather uncertain of their foothold on the ice.

The servants are all standing in a row in front of him.

The life sized Brighton Man as one of the servants

He points his stick at them.

” Now….in this season I want no daffing about, no darraigning and any man I see deboshed will go straight in the ice house! ”

Ah- this means that anyone who fools around too much, who sets the place in disarray whilst drunk, will go straight in the cold pantry.

” Who have you chosen to be the Lord tonight then? ”

The French Chef steps forward.This is the much celebrated Monsieur Yves Grosseteste. ( IN English he would be Ivor BigHead…but you don’t tell him that!)

” T’is Moi Sir….I ‘ave all thee fud orgeenized. Zere ees little to do now. I go and put on my corstume.”

This is the only member of staff Sir Grandly cannot intimidate. Something to do with the large French meat cleaver he likes to stuff into his belt. His Hachoir…mmm sounds scary doesn’t it?

Anyway off goes Ivor to get ready for his role as Master of the revels. The others disperse and Sir Grandly goes back to his bottle of claret.

Ivor is to wear a special outfit for the Lord of Misrule.

He has a small hat for his head with a peak and a feather. He wears a many coloured striped doublet, which just about fits around his skinny middle, pantaloon breeches for his rather large bottom and an enormous ruff. He carries a staff with ribbons and bells on. He looks frankly, quite a sight. He will give the orders and the rest must obey. Oh and he still has his meat cleaver in his ( straining) belt, along with his gentlemanly sword. Remember, he is no longer a servant. ( If he ever though he was !)

Monsieur Yves Grosseteste as Lord of Misrule.

We can hear him singing in his kitchen!

To the tune of Lilibulero ( a very famous 17th c. tune )

” Champs Elysees, et La Tour Eiffel

I’m going to geeve zem all merry ‘ell!

Feexing a meal to fill zem all up

Somesing quite naughty in ze wine cup.

Drinkit, stinkit, I am so clever

Zey will be running all night to ze pot

Zey never will guess it,  zey never no never

Zey never can blame me, never can not!”

Oh dear it looks like Sir Grandly’s household is in for a bit of a shock! Of course he is quite right….. they can’t blame him. He’s the BOSS! He can do what he likes.

I think we will go down the road and see what is happening in the house of our other friend, Sir Filthy Looks and his wife, Lady Bonnie Looks.

The young Sir Filthy Looks.

Lady Bon in her garden

Here it’s a little more decorous it seems. There is quite a bit of partying going on but no one is drunk yet and the chef isn’t threatening them with a meat cleaver, ( or with a nasty potion in the wine).

Ah…our little maidservant, the one we met doing the shopping in A Messy Business, I think her name is Iris Kalot, she is putting the finishing touches to the Twelfth Night Pie. She is a maid of all work and so she has to do some of the cooking as well.

The Chertsey Maid as the Maid of all work, Iris Kalot.

She too is singing. It’s a nice sweet, three four melody… ah that’s better….

“Ha ha ha, he he he, how I love little fish, love to buy and to serve little fish!

First I cut off their heads, then I pull out their bones,

However they are -they’re delish!

Ha Ha Ha He He He they are all food to me,

With a  cleaver I hack them in two

Then I pull out what’s inside and I serve it up fried

‘Cos I love little fishes don’t you?

Oh dear…can’t we get away from cleavers in this street?

“Here is something for tempting the palate

Prepared in the classic technique.

First you pound the fish flat with a mallett

Then you slash through the skin, give the belly a slice,

The you rub some salt in, ‘cos that

m a k e s  i t  t a s t e  n i c e.”

Ah…I think she has been having lessons from Monsieur Grosseteste….

Deary Me, don’t forget, that we must keep you wet

Ah… I think she means moist but of course it doesn’t rhyme. Ivor…sorry, Yves, doesn’t know that word.

Then we stuff you with bread, it don’t ‘urt ‘ cos yer dead

And yer certainly lucky you are.

‘Cos it’s goin’ to be ‘ot in my big boiling pot,

Tooda loo, little fishy, au revoir!”

Oh dear… I think we know what is being served up in the Looks household this evening.

Sounds a fishy business to me.

😉

AH..yes.....fish pie! They're lookin' at you...

It’s a New Year Treat!

03/01/2011

Happy New Year to all my lovely blogees!

And thank you for helping me out with my miniature dummy board figures before Christmas. I only have a very few left now…and will try to use these as prizes in a little quiz that I am about to run here on PastMastery.

I also have a few photographic ones still hanging about. If you would like to have one ..please refer to this post ( bottom) to see what they look like, let me know and they will be on their way to you. All I need is the price of the postage and you can send that in stamps. E mail me and I’ll let you know how much your parcel costs. They are of no use to me and I would rather they decorated a dollshouse somewhere than go in the bin!

The hand painted ones are no use to me either…someone must have them!

And so….Now for my little  2011 quiz….

I have some questions about dummy boards…the first second and third persons ( and so on ) to email me at

sue@pastmastery.com

will have the choice from these Hand Painted figures featured here,

The Wilberforce House gardener ( 5 ins

Mrs Anne Osborne has this one now.

The Mistletoe Girl 4.5 ins

The poor lonely lady from the theatre pair. 4 ins.

DAISY CARPI HAS WON THIS FIGURE (January 4th)

Lady with red rose 5 ins.

Lacemaker 2

Miss Angela Newstead ( no relation ) picked this one.

 

And I have decided to give away all my photographic figures as prizes when the real ones have gone, too! ONLY THREE REAL ONES LEFT NOW! Somebody must like Mozart or The Red Rose Lady or The Mistletoe Girl.

A young Mozart 4.5 ins...Yes...I know he WAS bigger than this....

IT”S A GIVE AWAY!

Here we go.

1. Where did dummy boards originate? WAS IT  a. England b. France c. Holland

2.When do we think they were invented? WAS IT  a. in the 19th century b. in the 17th century c. in the 12th century

3. Where does Thomas Peartree live? IS IT  a. Ipswich b. Winchester c. Yarmouth

There! It’s really easy.

AND The first person to tell me what THIS IS… ( yes -it too is a hand painted one )

A mystery object...No! you can't have it any bigger!

WINS IT! AND WITHIN THE HOUR MARY WILLIAMS HAD SUPPLIED THE CORRECT ANSWER OF THE OUDRY FIREBOARD. SHE WINS IT!

So PLEASE still  have a go at the rest……

Now for some other news.

You all know that  I have painted over many years, replica figures of life sized dummy boards from collections all over the place. These have been for sale on the website and have come and gone over the 9 years or so I have had PastMastery.

A lady emailed me before Christmas to make inquiries about having one of them for her Mother as a present.

It was the figure which is one of a pair housed in the National Trust collection at Chirk Castle in the north of England. I call these two 17th century figures Matty and Toby.

They are Dutch children, c.1600. The boy with a rudimentary golf club and the girl with a basket of apples; one seems to be doing service as a golf ball. They are dressed in the typical costume of the well to do middle classes seen in the paintings of the age, plenty of lace. Of course the young man wears skirts as did all the young boys of his age.We think, by the expressions on their faces that they are “up to no good”!
Here they are shown on the oak staircase at Abington Manor,
Northamptonshire, England, which is contemporary with them of course.

Tobias and Matilda ( their Sunday names of course) 🙂

Duly, this figure was parceled up and sent into deepest darkest Kent!

My customer was so delighted with it, that, this week, this lady emailed and has ordered Toby as well.

Good…I was beginning to have a lot of trouble with him. He was getting quite out of hand – missing the steadying influence of his little sister! < ahem!>

Humphry Clinker

And guess what? She has also got a place for Humphry Clinker and for  Sir John Thursby too!

Humphry is a fanciful evocation of the character from Tobias Smollett’s novel ” The Expedition of Humphry Clinker ” – a very funny book ( I urge you to read it ).

Here he is seen in the Oak room- a panelled dining room in his own house of Ablington, in Northants.

John was a real person and he owned Ablington Manor  near Northampton. I painted him from a portrait which hangs in the house, for a special exhibition as part of Open Studios week in  2005. His beautiful two tone blue/ gold coat was a challenge to paint as was the lovely brocade of his waistcoat.

Well… as you can see…for me it IS a Happy New Year! It’s working a treat!

Hope it will be for you too…. when you win my competition!