The latest Reading Art talk, which I gave, was on particular works in the BMAG collection, focusing on works inspired by Dante and Arthurian myths. The subjects appeal to my own interest in myth, and I talked about two Dante-inspired works: Alexander Munro’s Paolo and Francesca (which I blogged about before), and the ever-popular Beata Beatrix. I read relevant extracts of poetry (from Rossetti’s translation, of course) and talked about the literary context. This is the sonnet from the Vita Nuova which I read to accompany Beata Beatrix:
To every heart which the sweet pain doth move,
And unto which these words may now be brought
For true interpretation and kind thought,
Be greeting in our Lord’s name, which is Love.
Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,
Wake and keep watch, the third was almost nought,
When Love was shown me with such terrors fraught
As may not carelessly be spoken of.
He seemed like one who is full of joy, and had
My heart within his hand, and on his arm
My lady, with a mantle round her, slept;
Whom (having wakened her) anon he made
To eat that heart; she ate, as fearing harm.
Then he went out; and as he went, he wept.
We also looked at Emma Sandys’ Lady Holding a Rose, and discussed her representations of Arthurian women, followed by her brother Frederick’s depiction of Morgan le Fay. Finally, I talked about his Medea, which I’ve written about in more detail here.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of these talks is that people ask such interesting questions; afterwards, I spoke to a number of people who had attended, including a clergyman, a researcher and an A-level Art student, which was wonderful; it’s fascinating to hear the different approaches people have, and to enjoy stimulating conversation about mutual interests.
The next talk is this Saturday, April 16th, by Louise Chapman of Birmingham City University, talking about ‘Performing Aestheticism: Aesthetic Dress as Performance’.