Culture Magazine

Tuesday 3rd December - One for Sorrow

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata
Well, we are but a couple of days into Sobvent and already I am feeling miserable.  I have a latent chest infection which has the faint promise of consumption about it, so I feel a velvet chaise might be in order.  I shall cough into a hankie while a spaniel looks at me mournfully, which means I need to find a spaniel from somewhere today.  In the meantime, here is today's offering...

Tuesday 3rd December - One for Sorrow

One for Sorrow (1887) Frederick Hall

The first thing I thought when I saw this painting was that someone really needs to close a window.  If the symbolic presence of the magpie wasn't enough, the bird is going above and beyond by gesturing to the lady's wedding ring.  My guess is that there is no hurry to wind in your husband's spare net, Love.  The word on the magpie telegraph is that he is very dead indeed.  Sorry about that.
I actually like magpies, crows and the suchlike, and don't ascribe to the unluckiness of magpies in the singular.  I do, however, go out of my way to say hello to them, because that's just basic politeness and they are very smart.  I, for one, would welcome an uprising of our corvid overlords.  They can't possibly do a worse job than we do in terms of basic human decency.  Maybe the magpie is just making general conversation with the woman - 'So, Beryl, how's the husband? Alive?' but as we humans are too thick to speak crow then they have to do it all in charade form.  Also, there is the 'fact' that magpies like shiny things and will steal jewellery, so maybe the magpie is just eyeing up her ring here.  However, that sounds awfully like crow-ist propaganda on behalf of the ducks.  I wouldn't put anything past those web-footed gits.
As you can probably gather from Frederick Hall's painting, he was a British Impressionist and Newlyn-botherer and friend of Frank Bramley, who is certain to make an appearance in Sobvent.  I like the quiet sense of impending doom in this picture which takes you a moment to comprehend.  Subtlety is to be admired in paintings of sorrow and there is no need to have people wailing and sobbing in order to show bad news being delivered, especially in paintings of fishermen's widows (whoops, spoiler alert, sorry Lady in the Painting).
Mind you, I don't mind a bit of wailing, as no doubt we shall see later in the month.  Right, I'm off to find a spaniel, see you tomorrow.

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