Culture Magazine

Wednesday 6th December: The Virgin at the Loom

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata
I thought I'd give you a bit of a break from all the annunciating (completely a word) and bring you this rather smashing lady and her frankly massive loom...

Wednesday 6th December: The Virgin at the Loom

The Virgin at the Loom (1895) William Henry Margetson

It's a piece of few colours and yet the impact of the lavender and the fiery red is amazing. The image of the Virgin at the Loom is not a particularly common one, certainly not as common as the surprising angel or the donkey, but apparently from the eighth century it became part of the Virgin's story to show her weaving or spinning, using the thread of life, which is probably even nicer than alpaca.  She can be seen embroidering, spinning or weaving, practicing proper lady handicrafts but with a celestial edge.

Wednesday 6th December: The Virgin at the Loom

When Adam Delved and Eve Span (1892) William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones

 The only other Biblical spinning that I could remember bothering the Victorians was the interpretation of John Ball's text by William Morris as a Garden of Eden Socialist utopia where we all do our bit and are equal and semi-dressed, or something.  I'm learning to spin next year but I intend to remain dressed while doing it.  I don't think the Weald and Downland Museum appreciate you handling their spinning wheels with your bosoms out.

Wednesday 6th December: The Virgin at the Loom

The Siren (1896)

William Henry Margetson (1861-1940) specialised in beautiful women, artistically speaking.  His many paintings featured art nouveau beauties with flowing locks, draping themselves in gorgeous fabrics.  He liked the play of colours between skin, hair and background, with ivory skinned maidens and chestnut hair against blue seas and pale walls.  He also did a famous portrait of Alfred Lord Tennyson who looks slightly incongruous among the bevy of beauty, but there you go.  When you look at Margetson's images on a page they look like a classy pin-up calendar and then there is Tennyson.  You can't help but think 'Blimey, look at the beard on Miss November...'
On that note, I'll see you tomorrow...

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