Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wounding Your Cavaliers

It's Sunday and, if you are like me, you would like to see something beautiful.

I finds this strange Pre-Raphaelite painting to be oddly gorgeous. This is The Wounded Cavalier by the delightfully-named William Shakespeare Burton (1824-1916).

Although this was painted around 1855, the depicted scene is from the English Civil War. Personally, I think it's reasonable to read the painting allegorically; otherwise, I'm not sure how you explain the presence of the dour, Bible-holding Puritan who looks on disapprovingly. Oh Puritans, is there anything you don't hate? Also, an allegorical reading may help to account for such oddities as the broken blade stuck in the tree and the small butterfly that is perched on it. (But no, I'm not going to do the allegorical reading for you.) Also, why in the hell is there a tree running down the center of the painting? And why is the Puritan hiding behind it? These are the kinds of questions that, to my mind, make this a worthwhile painting.

As far as I can determine, this painting is in the permanent collection of the Guildhall Museum of Art in London (although it does not appear on their website). There is a smaller "study" for this painting in the Tate collection, although its colors are very different and it is (on the whole) much less appealing.

A note on the coloration. There are numerous images of this painting online and the colors are different in every one. As Fosco has never seen the original (nor is it, apparently, on display except by appointment), he has chosen the version that is most appealing to him. You may find this image to be a little "washed out," but Fosco much prefers the faint mist in this image to some of the gaudier versions.

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