Pre-Raphaelite Honeymoon

Richie Benaud died today. He had skin cancer and was 84. Cricket will not be the same without him. He loved the game and was a great ambassador. Australia never lost a series when he was captain and his commentating was unique. Thank you, Richie.

Someone else who was unique was René of Anjou. Born in 1409, René was the second son of Louis II, King of Sicily (Naples). When his father died in 1417, his brother became Louis III and René went off to live with his father-in-law, Charles II of Burgundy. But he wasn’t that keen on Burgundy so he continued to bear the arms of Anjou.

The Burgundians weren’t too impressed with him so he was imprisoned for a bit, released only when he was swapped for his sons in 1432.

There was a lot of argy bargy politics at the time and, in an effort to find peace, his daughter Margaret was married to Henry VI of England in 1444, cementing an alliance.

His first wife, Isabella of Lorraine died in 1453 and he remarried, this time to Jeanne de Laval.

Towards the end of his life, René became very interested in the artistic and promoted all manner of beautiful things. He was a bit of a painter and wrote poetry to his mate, Charles, Duke of Orléans. He also wrote a couple of books.

It was his devotion to art that the Pre-Raphaelites loved so much to the extent that a series of stained glass windows were commissioned, celebrating his honeymoon (I don’t know which one). They were originally intended for a Honeymoon Cabinet but wound up as library windows. Actually, the scenes are also painted on the cabinet.

The cabinet (and glass) was made in 1863 on a commission from Myles Birket Foster for his house at Witley in Surrey.

Architecture by Ford Maddox Brown

Architecture by Ford Maddox Brown

Each of the small windows depict a different, and terribly romantic, aspect of René’s artistic love. Architecture (above) and Music, Sculpture and Painting (below).

Music by DG Rossetti

Music by DG Rossetti

Having seen a contemporary painting of René, the depiction in these panels is highly romanticised. He was, if anything, a rather podgy looking chap and not exactly what you’d think of as a fairy tale hero.

Sculpture by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Sculpture by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

To be fair, had the artists created the images from life, they wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.

Painting by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Painting by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

My apologies for the quality of the images above. The glass is really very beautiful. For a clearer look here’s a detail from Music.

Music up close

Music up close

I found these (and the cabinet) upstairs in a dark corner of the V&A at lunch today. There’s always beautiful surprises.

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1 Response to Pre-Raphaelite Honeymoon

  1. Mum says:

    Wow wonderful cant wait to see all this for my self V&A here I come.
    love mum xx

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