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2 March 2020

So sixty-six years ago, on 2 March 1955, Claudette got on a bus and took a window seat near the exit door. The driver instructed her to give up her seat for a white passenger standing nearby. She refused and two white police officers dragged her from the bus. This  was the result.

1 March 2021

The Persephone Post this week celebrates the life of Claudette Colvin, someone most of us will not have heard of, but by the end of the week you will know exactly who she is and why she should be celebrated. Here she is at fifteen, in Montgomery, Alabama. 

26 February 2021

And today a picture of the sisters themselves and an article about them here.

25 February 2021

Cézanne frequently visited the hills of l'Estaque, a short distance to the west of Marseilles. This midday view of them, called The Francois Zola Dam, was painted on paper laid down on canvas in the late 1870s or early 1880s. Cézanne's wrote that the Provençal landscape was 'like a playing card, red roofs over the blue sea...The sun is so terrific here that it seems to me as if the objects were silhouetted in blue, red, brown, and violet.' Gwendoline Davies purchased this in Paris in 1918 (it says this on the Welsh National Museum's website, but can she really have been in Paris that year?). It's a painting that makes one long for the south of France – will we ever be allowed to go there again? – and Keats's words are at the forefront of one's brain when looking at this picture: 

     O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
         Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
    Tasting of Flora and the country green,
         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
     O for a beaker full of the warm South...

24 February 2021

This Madonna and Child, painted in the late 1480s, may be by Botticelli. The fruit is a pomegranate, a Christian symbol of the resurrection. It was of course Persephone's fruit and she was resurrected in the spring, which is why it is no coincidence that Easter and the beginning of spring are synonymous in most people's minds: interesting how these ancient myths, whether of Persephone or Christ's resurrection, still influence our everyday lives. This year, a few weeks after Easter, some lucky people will be able to go to the National Museum of Wales (for the first time for months) and see it. 


23 February 2021

The two sisters made their first major acquisition in 1910, when each bought a Corot landscape, and in fact they bought four more that year. This 1865 landscape is Margaret's; it was then sold in 1960 and again in 2004 and 2011..

22 February 2021

Gwendoline Davies (1882-1951) and her sister Margaret (known as Daisy) Davies (1884-1963) were art collectors in a (usually) very male-dominated world. Their money came from their grandfather, who built seven railway lines in Wales and was an important figure in the coal industry. The sisters inherited the equivalent today of fifty million pounds each and spent it in a wonderful way – they were amateur art historians and collected paintings. They bought Renoir's La Parisienne (1874) in 1913 and it is now part of the collection they gave to the National Museum of Wales in 1952. It shows Madame Henriette Henriot but 'by giving the painting the title La Parisienne, Renoir indicated that it represents a type, rather than a particular individual. A reviewer of the 1874 exhibition in which it was first shown wrote "The toe of her ankle boot is almost invisible, and peeps out like a little black mouse. Her hat is tilted over one ear and is daringly coquettish...The smile is false, and the face is a strange mixture of the old and the childish. But there is still something naive about her. One gets the impression that this little lady is trying hard to look chaste. The dress, which is extremely well painted, is a heavenly blue."'

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