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Mad old bats in stereo


Uncle B’s mother is in the hizzouse. Okay for me; I get along with her just peachy, but I think the poor bastard feels like he’s in a mad old bat sandwich, and he’s the olive loaf.

Today, we all drove to the beautiful, haunted town of Winchelsea in East Sussex. Old Winchelsea was a large and important medieval town, until it was swept into the sea by a massive flood in 1287. Edward I ordered Winchelsea rebuilt on the hill above. A newfangled planned town, with the streets built on a grid.

The new Winchelsea was likewise a thriving port. But it was sacked by the French and the Spanish a few times and especially hard hit by the Black Death of 1348. When the harbor silted up in the 16th C, that was pretty much it. Winchelsea today is tiny and spooky and lovely and full of terribly, terribly rich people.

The surviving church — actually, the surviving chunk of the surviving church — is at the center of the grid, and it’s spectacular. For two months in 1855, John Everett Millais stood about where I’m standing inside and painted L’Enfant du Regiment, a wounded little girl asleep on the tomb of a knight (from a fictional story about an orphan adopted by her father’s regiment).

Well, he painted the tomb on this spot; he painted the little girl later in his studio. And a damn fine job he made of it, too. Millais is hit or miss — when he’s good, he’s very, very good and when he’s not, he isn’t so much. This one is very fine. It’s oil on paper laid on canvas mounted on board. It lives in Connecticut at the Yale Center for British Art.

And tomorrow? Dunno yet. Presumably, two old bats and Olive Loaf hit the road again…


Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: August 26, 2009, 9:01 am

Massive floods, black death… Isn’t history fun? Are frogs next?

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 27, 2009, 1:51 am

The Millais painting is interesting.

It was inspired by Donizetti’s opera La Fille du Regiment. The opera is a comic opera, and takes place when the girl has grown up. The girl’s origin is explained, but there’s no tale of her being injured in a battle as a child.

Thus Millais’ subject is entirely his imagination of a scene in the back story.

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