Culture Magazine

Down the Hatch!

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata
Valentine's Day is almost upon us, my lovely readers, and may your day be filled with lots of hugs, kisses and chocolate!  If any of these feel decidedly lacking, I'm here to provide a bit of romantic imagery to your day...

Down the Hatch!

Fill in the blank as you will...
(or ring the police)

Now, if you are feeling a little underwhelmed by love this weekend, have you considered a little assistance in the form of a love potion?

Down the Hatch!

The Love Philtre (1914) John William Waterhouse

Waterhouse knew a thing or two about pretty girls and drugs.  He returned again and again to girls and dodgy drinks, including the above image which I wish I could find in color.  Never mind, here's a corker...

Down the Hatch!

Love Philtre J W Waterhouse

Pretty, pretty, and speaking of which, in terms of Victorian art the ones handing out the love potions are always beautiful women who you would probably not have any problem falling in love with anyway.  All glam and gorgeous, these women are drugging your wine, gentlemen, so beware!

Down the Hatch!

The Love Potion Evelyn de Morgan

With sorceress overtones, exotic and mystical women mixed their potions in order to either ensnare a lucky gentleman of their own or assist other hapless maidens to claim the man of their dreams.  Long before women were advised to keep their thumb over the top of their bottles in Tiger Tiger, men would be well advised to be wary of any beverage handed to them by a lovelorn maiden who looked a bit desperate.  Especially if it came in a pretty cup.  That's a dead giveaway....

Down the Hatch!

The Love Potion (1890) Beatrice Offor

I think if it was one of these mystical women who gave you your drink you would be suspicious.  Add a bit of animal print or a little cat, then really you only have yourself to blame if you eat or drink anything given to you.  It's interesting how leopard print equated to sorceress, as if skinning a leopard was part of sorceress basic training (it's week three, before caldron care).  Nowadays it doesn't seem to be so mysterious - I have a gleefully fake leopard print coat which I was told looked kind of tacky, but suited me.  I'm not sure how to take that.  My favorite compliment I got while wearing it was that I looked like a black-marketeer's mistress.  I'm fine with that.

Down the Hatch!

Love Philtre (1885) Henry Glindoni

For the more Tudor amongst you, you have to go and see a man about the potion.  He looks more official and has books and stuff.  There isn't a hint of leopard print and no cats.  It's sort of disappointing and takes all the excitement out of it.  It's supposed to be about love and desire, for heaven's sake, you wouldn't want to go to Boots for something to do with love and desire.  Oh, hang on. Sigh. Well, that kicks the excitement out of it.  Where's my romance?

Down the Hatch!

Tristram and Isolde (or Tristan and Iseult)  J W Waterhouse

Thank you Waterhouse, I knew I could rely on you.  For the flimsiest excuse for falling in love with the wrong person ever, you have to turn to gorgeous Tristram and the equally lovely Isolde.  When King Mark sent the hot knight to fetch his bride how did he not see it coming?  I learned that lesson at about 8 when I let one of my pretty friends tell a boy I liked him and she ended up holding his hand in the playground. So Tristram and Isolde are merrily sailing back to her husband when she accidentally drinks the love potion from the picnic basket....

Down the Hatch!

Tristram and Isolde Herbert Draper

If any of you are familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer then a similar thing happens to all the yokels of the village where they drink the dodgy tea and all fall in love with deeply in appropriate people.  While singing.  Well in the legend of Tris and Issie, she has some fizzy tea and the first person she sets eyes on is the hot knight.  How very convenient.

Down the Hatch!

Tristram and Isolde John Duncan

The whole matter would be far less pretty if she had laid eyes on some bloke covered in barnacles who smelt like kippers.  Luckily for the art-loving public, she fell in love with Tristram, but going by Duncan's image, she knocked back the potion while staring at him so that really isn't 'by chance' is it?  The upshot is not pretty which I suppose should be a warning toi us all.  Don't be meddling with magical potions to woo your beloved.  The £10 meal deal from M&S might have a fairly similar effect.
Especially if you add a walnut whip.
Good luck!
Down the Hatch!

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