Mary Ellen Edwards – A Victorian Woman Illustrator

mary-ellen-edwards-later-mrs-freer-later-mrs-staples
Mary Ellen Edwards (later Mrs Freer, later Mrs Staples) by Unknown photographer, albumen carte-de-visite with black masking paint, 1860s, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Illustrator Mary Ellen Edwards was born to Mary (née Johnson, c.1809-1898) and Downes Edwards (c. 1805-1882) on the 6th November 1838 on her father’s farm in Surbiton just outside London. The family had nine children of which two died in infancy. The Edwards moved frequently. Her father was an engineer and inventor and had by 1848 enough funds to built a family residence, Ravenscliffe in Douglas on the Isle of Man. Eventually they settled in London and lived there at various addresses in fashionable parts of town such as Pimlico, South Kensington and Chelsea.

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Exploring the School of Art Collection 2017

Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm, Corinna Button, drypoint with monotype, 2006

Three women sit on a bench huddled close together. Backs to us, their arms wrap around each other snuggly, they look intimate and protected. Heads bent forward with faces close, these women are in the middle of a private moment, excluding the rest of the world. Rain falls from black clouds in the sky above, whilst overhead telephone wires stretch across poles from either side of the women, as if framing them. They are centre and focus of the print.

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Joseph Wolf – “The best all-round animal painter that ever lived.”

Joseph Wolf, Lance Chalkin, 1890, the Zoological Society of London (Source: Wikipedia)
Joseph Wolf, Lance Chalkin, 1890, the Zoological Society of London (Source: Wikipedia)

Joseph (Mathias) Wolf was born on the 22nd January 1820 in the little village of Mörz, near Koblenz, Germany. His father, Anton Wolf (1788-1859) was a farmer and headman of the village. As a boy, Wolf loved spending time outdoors, observing and sketching the local wildlife. Sometimes, he would shoot specimens to dissect them at home in order to achieve a better understanding of their anatomy, plumage or fur. He would also capture live birds and mammals to draw them. He built special traps to catch large birds of prey without harming them. His obsession, apparently, earned him the unflattering nickname ‘bird fool’ from his father. Watching wildlife became a lifelong passion and, although he killed some for study, he abhorred the mindless slaughter of animals that many Victorians regarded as a ‘manly’ pastime and sport. According to his biographer and friend Alfred Herbert Palmer (1853-1931), son of artist Samuel Palmer (1805-81), Wolf accused these ‘sportsmen’ of having “no desire to know about a thing. Their only desire is to kill it.” He also called man “the most destructive and carnivorous animal in the world.”

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Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities December 2017

 

(Click on images to enlarge them.)

Curiosity: 2 miniature portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte

Created: 1824

Artist: Maestro di Pavia

Measurements: Full-length portrait: 183×118 mm

                              Head portrait: 74×62 mm

These two miniature portraits have come to the University museum’s collection through the bequest of George Powell of Nanteos. As with so many of his objects, we have unfortunately no idea how, when and where he bought them. Holland and Meyrick explain that “Powell was very taken with Romantic struggles for liberty and nationhood. Like many other collectors in the 19th century he collected material associated with Napoleon Bonaparte.” This and the exquisite execution of the portraits might have been his reasons for acquiring them. Continue reading

Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities August 2017

opium-pipe-full-iii-e1505565781228.jpgCuriosity: Opium pipe

Country of origin: China

Maker: Unknown

Created: 19th century (?)

Measurements: 558mm

Material: Bamboo and metal (possibly tin or brass)

 

 

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Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities July 2017

 

Haida Argillite Carving Complete II Jul 2017

Curiosity: Panel pipe

Creator: Haida people

Origin: Haida Gwaii

(formerly Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia, Canada

Date of creation: ca. 1820-1900

Material: Argillite

Measurements: 330 x 117mm

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Alternative Facts: Interpreting Works from the School of Art Collection: 22 May to 29 September 2017 at the School of Art Gallery, Aberystwyth University

AltFactsPoster_web_mailThe phrase ‘alternative facts’ is a recent addition to our vocabulary.  It has come to prominence in a political climate in which views and actions are shaped more by emotions than by reliable intelligence.  Reflecting this shift, Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ to be Word of the Year 2016.  And yet, alternative facts are as old as language itself. Continue reading