Sunday, 28 December 2014
Janey Morris last call in 2014
ROSSETTI’S OBSESSION at the William Morris Gallery has it last day next Sunday 4 January, so my thanks to everyone who helped remember her in 2014, those at the National Portrait Gallery, Kelmscott Manor, Bradford City Art Galleries, Lady Lever Gallery and WMG as well as everyone who visited the exhibitions and posted or tweeted. I feel that Janey has now been accorded the visual and biographical attention she deserves. Thinking on, however, one aspect of her life remains under-appraised: her textile work is unsigned, scattered and of course fragile, therefore hard to research.
And her after-life continues beyond the centenary of her death, in the paintings and drawings that remain on view and in circulation. A very nice and characteristic drawing by DGR is on sale at Bonhams a short while hence. It shows Janey reading, rather than dozing as in other drawings (which are often taken as reflections of her supposedly languorous demeanour when they were in fact poses it was possible to hold for the hour or so the artist required) and demonstrates her life-long love of literature. It's likely that as a child she had no access to books, only to stories in cheap magazines and maybe religious tracts, so in adulthood she made up for this by voracious reading, alongside William Morris, who said he 'devoured' books. Jane's favourite reading was poetry, though she also loved ghost stories - a true child her of her time in this respect.
And her image still appears in unexpected places - my latest sighting was of the V&A's Daydream on a tin of Hungarian marzipan at Budapest airport.