Culture Magazine

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata
One of my favorite stories about Evelyn de Morgan is when her sister, Mrs Anna Stirling visited the Russell-Cotes at Gallery and saw their massive painting Aurora Triumphs by, er, Edward Burne-Jones...

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

Hang on a minute...

It had been bought as a Burne-Jones by the Russell-Cotes family, but as Mrs Pickering informed the rather startled curator, that was definitely her sister's work because the figure of Aurora was her nursemaid. Although Herbert Russell-Cotes had bought what he thought was a splendid Burne-Jones in 1922, what he had actually bought was one of de Morgan's finest paintings, recognised because of the unforgettable face of a nursemaid called Jane Hales.

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

Study of Jane Hales (1872-1887) Evelyn de Morgan

There's been a bit written about Miss Hales of late, or rather about her and Mrs de Morgan and possible readings of their relationship. For the record, I neither known nor care if Evelyn and Jane were in love or if Evelyn fancied Jane, because all that detracts from the fact that people can find other people aesthetically pleasing without it being about sex. We're not all Rossetti, you know.  Anyway, Jane appears so often and so strikingly in Evelyn's work, she is almost her touchstone, the constant in her artistic vision.  So, who was Jane Hales?

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

The Dryad (1884) Evelyn de Morgan

Mary Jane Hales was born in the summer of 1851 to John and Maria Hales of Leverington, Cambridgeshire.  Her father was an agricultural labourer and Jane was at school only as long as a child of that class was allowed before being sent off into the world of work. As it was, Jane's first job was the only one she would have and she dedicated herself to it whole heartedly.  At 15, in 1866, Jane joined the Pickering household as nurse to look after one year old Anna Maria Wilhelmina Pickering. Mr Pickering had apparently become so worried about child kidnappers that he insisted on a nurse-companion for each child to keep them safe.  His choice of Jane was apposite as she proved a loyal and dedicated companion to Anna and her sister.

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

Boreas and Oreithyia (1896) Evelyn de Morgan

She was initially paid £11 a year which rose to £16 after she took time away from the Pickerings to return home, possible to nurse a family member.  Her brother William died in 1873, but he was already married so it seems unlikely Jane would have been needed to care for him.  Looking at Jane's family tree, not many of her siblings make it to adulthood, seemingly only her sister Henrietta and Jane making a decent age, so it could have been there was a lot of illness in the family home.  Anyway, Jane returned to the Pickerings in 1871, where her pay was raised to £16 per year.  Jane's Uncle had also worked for the Pickerings which is possibly where the opportunity for Jane came from.  Evelyn Pickering (later de Morgan) was 11 when Jane came to work for them, and already a determined artist.  As her talent grew, her need for life models increased and Jane, described as 'pretty' in Anna Stirling's biography of her sister, was always to hand to be 'bullied or cajoled' (as Anna recorded in her biography) into posing.

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

Luna (1885) Evelyn de Morgan

Evelyn's mother had chronic back problems (which makes you wonder about Evelyn's later relationship with Jane Morris, another sufferer and only a little younger than Evelyn's mother) and so Jane became a close substitute for the little Pickering children as well as a companion for Evelyn.  She spent nine months abroad with the family at a spa in Germany as Mrs Pickering took a rest cure, and traveled over England with the children.

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

Lux in Tenebris (1895) Evelyn de Morgan

The classically proportioned and beautiful Jane enabled Evelyn to always have a model to hand and she inspired works of art from the young artist.  As Evelyn developed an interest in the spiritual side of life, I wonder if Jane's kind and caring nature and role within the family is what inspired the beauty of Evelyn's art.

Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

Helen of Troy (1898) Evelyn de Morgan

Even when Anna married in 1901, Jane remained, a necessity to the family, a member of the family.  In 1911, she is still there, listed in Anna's home - Anna had become Mrs Stirling and pleasingly the head of the household as an author (Mr Stirling was a university lecturer) - and Jane had graduated from nursemaid to lady's maid to her 45 year old charge.  Jane died, aged 75, and was buried in the plot adjacent to Evelyn, who predeceased her by seven years.  Jane's inclusion in the Pickering/de Morgan/Stirling graves marks the closeness of the girls of the family and how Jane had dedicated herself to them.  Beyond whether or not Evelyn de Morgan was sexually attracted to her model, is the story of a woman who was valued in another family as being their own necessity and given a grave among them because they could not bear to be separated from her, even in death.
See you tomorrow.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Big Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy in China

    Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy China

    Coca-Cola is at it again. As soda sales decline in the United States and Europe, beverage companies look to emerging economies like China for growth. And, it... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dietdoctor
  • Jewellery for a Precious You

    Jewellery Precious

    Jewellery is always close to a woman’s heart. It completes her look and boost confidence. Considering the changing trends in jewellery fashion, it becomes... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dr.jenifer Sayyed
  • Rajshri Productions’ Next Is A Film On Friendship | Hum Chaar | Trailer

    Abhishek Dixit’s debut feature film Hum Chaar is a Bollywood film made under the banner of Rajshri’s film. Hum Chaar is written and directed by Abhishek Dixit. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • Saint Paul the First Hermit

    Saint Paul First Hermit

    Today is the feast day of Saint Paul the hermit. This is a sweet and delicate Oatmeal Bread topped with rolled oats and naturally sweetened with agave. Saint... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Veronica46
  • Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu | Teaser | Pranav Mohanlal | Arun Gopy

    Arun Gopy’s Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is an upcoming Malayalam action-drama feature film starring Pranav Mohanlal and Zaya David in the lead roles. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • A Year Of Body Positivity

    Year Body Positivity

    Last January, as I sat there on New Years eve all set to make the same old resolutions I've made year after year for as long as I can remember, I realised how... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Sparklesandstretchmarks
  • Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

    Garden Bloggers Bloom 2019

    Euphorbia rigidaWhen I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Patientgardener