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6th January 2022

This 1936 portrait of Louis MacNeice is by Nancy Sharp, then Nancy Coldstream and later Nancy Spender ((women artists and writers whose names change on marriage have been less recognised than women who keep the same name throughout their working life): it's shameful that Nancy Sharp has been forgotten in the history of C20th painting, and it's not just the name change being a problem. It was domesticity, the men prioritising their own work, love affairs, when you read about Nancy Sharp's life in Carolyn Trant's book it's a wonder she did any painting at all.

5 January 2022

Mary Adshead has been on the Post and the Letter before, as has Daphne Charlton, and in fact without wanting to sound boastful/cpmplacent – so have most of the women artists in Carolyn Trant's book. But naturally she makes  observations one had never thought of, and points to fascinating connections between them. And most importantly, pays homage. This is by Elinor Bellingham-Smith, it's A London Garden, undated, at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

4 January 2022

Happy New Year to all readers of the Persephone Post. And thank you so much to some of you who sent cards, they are so much appreciated. Of course the Post has become slightly old-fashioned (unsurprisingly, since it's twenty years old!) but there are enough Persephone readers who enjoy it for us to want to continue. So here we go with 2022. One of our Christmas presents was Voyaging Out: British Women Artists from Suffrage to the Sixties (2019) by Carolyn Trant. The chapters are partly chronological and partly thematic, this week on the Post four of the (numerous) women painters who studied at the Slade. Here is Mary Adshead's 1935 Portrait of Daphne Charlton.

23 December 2021

'The mysterious Giorgione (1477-1510) left very few works at his premature death, but this one is a masterpiece of contemplation. The elderly Joseph is deep in prayer, Mary holds a pose of silent worship before the Christ child, whose hazy face appears so inward-looking. The shepherds, in their ragged clothes, are speechless and spellbound, but full of love for the baby. They are the first to arrive, the first to understand what they are seeing, before the rest of the crowd arrives. The scene is very close and intimate, against the distant Venetian landscape. Not a sheep in sight. By their humility shall you know the shepherds' (here), This is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. And it's a rather appropriate painting with which to end a year of Persephone Posts: because of the intimacy, the landscape in the background, the image of maternity, the story being told, all of which are defining qualities of our books (we hope). The Post is now on holiday until Tuesday January 4th. The office/shop is open as normal today and until 2 tomorrow (Christmas Eve) and then is open on the 29th, 30th and 31st, Covid willing. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers, thank you SO much for all your support, which is warmly appreciated, and see you (virtually) in the New Year.

22 December 2021

The Census at Bethlehem by Bruegel (the Elder). “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered… Joseph went to Bethlehem to be registered with Mary, who was with child.” For Bruegel, the event is contemporary, taking place in his native Belgium in the harshest of winters. Mary and Joseph are just two more poor people trudging through the freezing air to queue for this ruthlessly imposed bureaucracy. The only thing that distinguishes them in the general misery and chaos is the proverbial donkey' (here).

21 December 2021

The Procession of the Magi by Benozo Gozzoli (1421-97), at the Medici Riccardi Palace in Florence: because of course this is a fifteenth century version set in Florence. It's a fresco and once seen IRL never forgotten. 

20 December 2021

The last week before Christmas and while we scramble to get the final orders in the post, here on the Persephone Post: Christmas paintings to soothe the spirit. This is The Annunciation by Fra Angelico, it's at St Marco in Florence. Some of us, including the writer of the Post, first saw this when they were 18 and it must have influenced their sense of colour and form forever. The composition, and the pink especially, are miraculously beautiful.

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