Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dew-Drenched Furze

On my morning walks to the Underground this week I have passed front gardens strewn with delicate dewy cobwebs, as you can see from the photograph above.  I realise there is a beer bottle in this particular bush too, but this, after all, is London, not a remote forest glade (as the great Charles Reznikoff once said, 'this smoky winter morning - / do not despise the green jewel shining among the twigs / because it is a traffic light.')  It must have been on some such autumn morning that John Everett Millais set out to paint Dew-Drenched Furze (1881), a work recently acquired by the Tate.  Millais got his title from In Memoriam, where Tennyson wrote ‘Calm and deep peace on this high wold, / And on the dews that drench the furze, / And all the silvery gossamers / That twinkle into green and gold...’  According to his son, Millais aimed 'to capture the morning sun streaming through a clearing of gorse illuminated by droplets of dew, a subject ‘probably never painted before’, and one that as he begun he feared ‘might be unpaintable.’'  This son, the ornithological artist J.G. Millais, added a cock pheasant in the right foreground of the painting, but this was subsequently removed (no doubt as distracting as a stray beer bottle).  The result is a beautiful and surprisingly abstract landscape painting, which draws the eye over sunlit spider's webs and feathery gorse towards a veil of distant golden mist. 

John Everett Millais, Dew-Drenched Furze, 1881


Anonymous said...

very lovely post

Mrs P

Plinius said...

Glad you liked it. When I came to update my index I realised I had already mentioned this painting five years ago... Oh well, at least I included a different photograph this time.

Gardener in the Distance said...

Stray beer bottles or not, Plinius, is the softly-glowing light and the feeling of everlastingness that makes English gardens so memorable.