Merry Christmas – again.

Today is Christmas Eve according to the old calendar, and tonight millions of people (including Ukrainians like me) celebrate with a twelve-dish dinner.

With the disaster surrounding us and a house full of smoke, this is going to be an odd one.

ПимоненкоСтрастныйчетвергUkrainian Easter by Mykola Pymonenko 1887

A Prison Camp Christmas

Ruhleben_Prison_Camp_-_Christmas_Dinner_Art_IWMART528 1917 Frist world War One German Camp British Empire Prisoners

This painting depicts Christmas dinner in the Ruhleben internment camp in Germany in 1917. The camp, located west of Berlin, housed between 4000 and 5500 mainly British prisoners during the First World War.

The work was created by Anglo-Dutch artist Nico Jungmann, who was interned at Ruhleben because he was a naturalised British citizen.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.

On this day: Australia joins the war

A First World War One Australian propaganda poster by Norman Lindsay. Lindsay_quick

A World War One Australian propaganda poster by Norman Lindsay.

On the 4th of August, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. As part of the British Empire, Australia – who had already begun war preparations – immediately became involved in the conflict.

Nearly 422 000 Australians – of a population of less than 5 million – served in the military during the First World War. More than half of them were killed or wounded.

100 years ago today: Edith Cavell returns home

Nurse Cavell at Westminster Abbey - After the Armistice her body was brought in state at Westminster Abbey, 15th May 1919.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museums

The body of British nurse Edith Cavell is depicted here being taken to Westminster Abbey in London for a state funeral on the 15th of May, 1919. The image was created by English artist Henry Rushbury.

Cavell, who had helped Allied soldiers escape German-occupied Belgium during the First World War, was arrested by German authorities and executed by firing squad on the 12th of October, 1915.

Cavell’s killing sparked international outrage, and the incident was used in war propaganda in the years following her death.

Love & Desire at the National Gallery

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Canberrans are so lucky to have the National Gallery of Australia. It’s one of the best galleries you’ll find anywhere, and we have some of the best special exhibitions.

At the moment, that special exhibition is Love & Desire – a collection of many of the world’s most famous Pre-Raphaelite works, visiting Canberra from all over (but mostly from the Tate Britain) for several months. We went to see it on Sunday, (and then we walked along the lake to the National Library for lunch on the terrace – it’s still really warm, considering it is mid-autumn here, as in summer-dress warm).

Something I didn’t learn until yesterday was how much William Morris stuff the gallery here actually owns.

Also, it was great to see some of the most famous Ballet Russes costumes out of storage and on display on the way in (we had the common sense to buy them all up before anybody else in the world realised their value. Now, if you want to see – say – Nijinsky’s most famous costumes, you have to come to Canberra!).

Here are a few of the famous works in the exhibition:

John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott 1888

John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott 1888

John Everett Millais Ophelia 1851-52

John Everett Millais Ophelia 1851-52

William Holman Hunt The awakening conscience 1853

(This is supposed to be a Victorian mistress waking up to how she shouldn’t be living in sin!)

William Holman Hunt The awakening conscience 1853

Ford Madox Brown The last of England 1864-66

(This is MUCH smaller than I always imagined it!)

Ford Madox Brown The last of England 1864-66

Dante Gabriel Rossetti Ecce ancilla domini! (The Annunciation) 1849-50

(This one is amazing and before its time, as it depicts the Virgin Mary being told she will give birth to Jesus as a terrifying moment.)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti Ecce ancilla domini! (The Annunciation) 1849-50

On this day: Victorian Children

Zeichnung_Kate_Greenaway_26th_March_1891 Kate Greenaway 26th March 1891

Source

This Victorian illustration was created by Englishwoman Kate Greenaway, and is dated the 26th of March, 1891.

Greenaway, who was born in London in 1846, was an internationally successful creator of children’s books and a painter of many watercolours.

The artist died in London in 1901.

Prisoners of War in The Mikado

The_Gala_Performance_-_The_Mikado_at_the_Theatre_of_the_British_Civilian_Pow_Camp_Ruhleben_Germany_Art_IWMART6173 1916 First World War One

The comic opera The Mikado, created by Englishmen Gilbert & Sullivan, premiered at the Savoy Theatre in London on the 14th of March, 1885.

This painting depicts the show being performed in the Ruhleben internment camp west of Berlin in Germany in 1916. British prisoners, interned during the First World War, staged the show from memory.

The painting is by Anglo-Dutch artist Nico Jungmann, who was interned at Ruhleben because he was a naturalised British citizen.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.