Culture Magazine

Tuesday 10th December - Home from the Sea

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata
After all the sadness of lost loves and bladder stones yesterday, I thought I'd move the scene outdoors today...

Tuesday 10th December - Home from the Sea

Home from Sea (1857) Arthur Hughes

This is probably one of the better known paintings in Sobvent, which depicts a brother and sister in the graveyard, presumably at a grave of one of their parents.  Or maybe both.  Why do things by half?  She's been at home, sorting out burials and the suchlike while he's been off at sea in a wide straw hat and very fetching sailor suit.  He's returned, with his hankie on a stick (which I thought only existed in Tom and Jerry cartoons when Tom got kicked out of the house for not catching Jerry).  All he said was 'I'm looking forward to seeing Mum and Dad', and this is where his sister took him.  I bet she didn't know how to break it to him otherwise.  'You won't exactly be seeing them, but you will be within six foot of them...'
When this was exhibited in 1857 it was entitled The Mother's Grave but I like to think that they are now both penniless orphans and the sister will be reduced to playing Whitesnake hits on her accordion in the high street to save from starving.  If you fancy re-enacting the scene, Hughes used the churchyard in Chingford as the background, so you could get your hankie on a stick and throw yourself down dramatically under a tree, for fun.  Everyone needs a hobby.
He added the figure of the sister in 1862 when he changed the title to Home from Sea.  The girl is his wife, the lovely Tryphena Foord, who featured in last year's Blogvent.  She looks every inch the spaniel-haired Victorian girl, who is just a heap of black fabric with a tiny lace collar.  There is no fun in her future, just a lot of heavy, black mourning clothes and an afternoon trying to get grass-stains out of white trousers.  The orange of her brother's belongings bundle are a jolly, jarring note of color which tonally makes reference to the roof of the church.  There are tiny flowers in the grass and in the bushes, just as the girl in her deep mourning has a tiny white collar.  I think it means that even while sorrow and grief are fresh and raw, there is hope and things will move on and get better again.
Oh dear, that's an awfully optimistic note to end on.  I'll do better tomorrow...

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