Tuesday, 1 January 2013
Happy New Year! The quiet time after Christmas is a nice time of year for bringing out loved picture books to browse and one of my favourites is this one. It contains a series of 70 watercolours done by Diana Sperling between 1812 and 1823. Diana was born in 1791 and lived with her family until she married in 1834. She captured with comedic charm scenes from the family life at Dynes Hall near Halstead in Essex. The one above is obviously influenced by Dutch masters with its vignetted three framed spaces in one of which sits Diana's mother, Mrs Sperling, busy at her needlework - though Diana's title is Brisk near her dozing!
Above you can see the title page illustrating a lively dance - so lively that two young ladies have flopped in their seats and are fanning themselves.
This is one of my favourite scenes as it shows the fashionable delight in receiving elsectrical shocks. The human chain of participants is linked to a simple Van der Graaf generator which produces the less lethal direct current shock (as opposed to the lethal alternating current shocks we get from modern electrical supplies.) One famous scientist, Robert Boyle, noticed that false hair was easily electrified - maybe that is why the ladies are keeping their hats on?!
This too is a lovely domestic scene of the family members at their various occupations in the drawing room - not a TV or Games Box in sight. You can see this book on Amazon by clicking here.
Posted by N E E D L E P R I N T at 12:30