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

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On this day: Victorian Children

Zeichnung_Kate_Greenaway_26th_March_1891 Kate Greenaway 26th March 1891

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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.

On this day: the death of Granny Smith

Granny_Smith Maria Ann Sherwood known as Granny Smith Granny Smith Apple Inventor 19th Century Victorian Australia Victorian Era

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Maria Ann Smith – known as Granny Smith – the creator of the green “Granny Smith” apple, died in the colony of New South Wales, Australia on the 9th of March, 1870.

In 1868 Smith was handed a box of French crab apples from Tasmania at a market in Sydney. After she used them for baking, she discovered a seed in the discarded peels had sprouted in a compost heap. She continued to tend it in its place near a creek.

After her death the property’s new owner marketed the fruit as “Granny Smith”.

Smith married in England, having eight children (who survived early childhood) before emigrating to Australia in 1838.

On this day: a future Queen arrives in Britain

The_Landing_of_HRH_The_Princess_Alexandra_at_Gravesend,_7th_March_1863_by_Henry_Nelson_O'NeilThe Landing of HRH The Princess Alexandra at Gravesend, 7th March 1863 Henry Nelson O'Neil di

Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the future Queen of the United Kingdom, is depicted in this painting by Henry Nelson O’Neil arriving in England on the 7th of March, 1863.

Alexandra travelled to Gravesend in Kent, England by royal yacht to marry Prince Albert Edward, the future King Edward VII.

The royal couple married three days later, on the 10th.

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

I definitely have my issues with the man himself, but there’s no denying Charles Dickens’ incredible influence on the world.

The English author was born on this day 207 years ago.

You can see some pictures from my 2017 visit to his London house HERE.

Dickens_Gurney_head Charles Dickens (1812-1870) between 1868 and 1867

On this day…

Frederick Farrand Trollope, aged almost three, in his Sunday best and holding a toy sabre. Photographed in Grafton on the 29th of December, 1878. New South Wales Australia VIctorian Era

Frederick Farrand Trollope, aged almost three, in his Sunday best and holding a toy sabre. Photographed in Grafton on the 29th of December, 1878.

On the Clarence River, in the north of New South Wales, Australia, Grafton received city status in 1885.