The Paris Attacks: a Few Thoughts


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Prayer in the Mosque by Jean-Léon Gérôme (Photo credit: Metropolitan Museum)

The massacre in Paris has led me to wonder whether there is a solution to terrorist attacks other than strikes. I keep reaching the same conclusion. I doubt that there can be an effective resolution unless it comes to a significant extent from within Islam. If a person is attacked, self-defense is instinctive. One puts up a fight. However, nearly two weeks after the attacks on Paris and earlier attacks, it would seem that, if at all possible, leaders should continue to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis as retaliation could intensify and perpetuate the current atrocities.

My reasoning is based on the cultural prevalence in the Middle East, including Israel, of the lex talionis, “an eye for an eye.” I am using the word “prevalence” because humans tend to retaliate when they are harmed.

However, I am glad to see that there is unanimity at the United Nations. I note, moreover, that Ban Ki-moon did not mention a country which was judicious on his part. The wording is “terrorists and ideology extremists[.]”  There are a large number of “ideology extremists[.]”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on Russia and the US to join their efforts to combat terrorism. He told the annual East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur that terrorists and ideology extremists must be “defeated in the name of humanity.”





For the time being, the United States and Russia will not join forces in combating terrorism. This matter was mentioned during French President François Hollande’s visit to Washington, on 24 November.


It is within the nature of retaliation to perpetuate conflicts. An act of terrorism leads to strikes that lead to other acts of terrorism and to further strikes. There is no end to this process. For retaliation to be effective, all terrorists would have to be rounded up and exterminated, which will not and should not happen.

It appears that two of the assailants in the Paris tragedy entered Europe looking like refugees, which has created greater fear of the refugees. Some of the assailants, however, already lived in Europe. There are Isis terrorists in various countries. We will not have a precise account of the facts regarding the Paris attacks until the investigation is over. There has to be an investigation.

In the meantime, a Russian fighter jet was shot down in Turkey. This matter must also be investigated, but it could be an act of retaliation on the part of Isis, now called Daesh.


Given that the West has mingled in the Middle East, we must also take into consideration the consequences of ill-considered actions. When George W Bush entered Iraq, he violated the sovereignty of a country. In fact, mere intervention is often viewed as interference. It may also be viewed as a rejection of a country’s ability to govern itself. Under such circumstances, countries may lapse into an interpretation of laws that has long fallen into obsolescence. It’s a form of résistance.

In most countries of the Middle East, there is no separation of faith and state, which complicates matters. Sharia law is state and faith combined.

“Sharia and sharia law is the basic Islamic legal system derived from the religious precepts of Islam.” (See Sharia, Wikipedia.)

Therefore, heads fall, limbs are chopped off, and women taken in adultery are stoned to death.

“In the Name of Humanity”

Since 2011, nearly five million Syrians have taken refuge in neighbouring countries and are now seeking asylum in European countries. Canada was to give a home to 25,000 refugees in January, but this process has now been delayed. Yet, the refugees are leaving a country that has been ruined.

Moreover, on 21 August 2013, sarin was used against an enemy sect. Among the 400 to 1,200 people killed were several children. (See Use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war and the Ghouta Attack, Wikipedia.)


After the Paris attacks, presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, a relative of George W Bush, was ready to enter into a war against Isis. It was his first reaction, one that could change. But…

Let me return to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s statement:

…ideology extremists must be ‘defeated in the name of humanity.’

President Obama is still at the helm and he continues to believe that a diplomatic resolution of the crisis in the Middle East is possible. But, as I wrote at the opening of this post, no resolution will be effective unless it comes to a greater than lesser extent from within Islam. Yet Isis “must be defeated in the name of humanity.”

It must be excruciating for Muslims all over the world to watch Isis kill innocent people in the name of Allah. A fire damaged a mosque in Toronto, which is regrettable. Isis is not Islam. It’s a group of terrorists.

I apologize for not posting for several days. It has not been possible. I’m facing a number of difficulties. The Paris attacks have had a nefarious effect on me, as they have on a large number of people. In fact, I’m feeling quite ill.

My kindest regards  


© Micheline Walker
26 November 2015




Art in 19th-century England


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Boreas by John Willam Waterhouse, 1903 (Photo credit: )


Britain’s Golden Age of illustration, the illustration of children’s literature in particular, was ushered in, at least in part, by Japonism. Other factors contributed to the flourishing of children’s literature adorned with exquisite illustrations, but the beauty of the Japanese prints that flooded Europe after the Sakoku period elevated the status of illustrators whose art was engraved and printed. Moreover, the illustration of children’s literature allowed and sometimes required substantial creativity on the part of illustrators. For instance, as discussed in a previous post, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871), featured literary nonsense.

But there is more to tell. We will now introduce Britain’s following  movements or style:

  1. the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1848)
  2. the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880-1910)
  3. the Anglo-Japanese style (c. 1850)
  4. the Aesthetic Movement (c. 1850)

I will also refer to the curvilinear and very popular and influential Art Nouveau. British illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (21 August 1872 – 16 March 1898; aged 25) is a representative of the style, but Art Nouveau is usually associated with Czech artist Alfons Mucha. It is a characteristic of art produced in the last decade of the 19th century and in the years preceding World War I.

The Anglo-Japanese Style

In Britain, Japonisme was applied to furniture making and was referred to as the Anglo-Japanese style. The Anglo-Japanese style was true to the idealism of the Pre-Raphaelites in that it rejected the depiction of “any thing [sic] or any person of a commonplace or conventional kind.” (See Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Wikipedia.)

For instance, the sideboard shown below, designed in the Anglo-Japanese style by Arthur William Godwin (26 May 1833 – 6 October 1886), cannot be considered  “conventional”. It may reflect Japanese furniture, but it is also consistent with the concept of art for art’s sake, l’art pour l’art, advocated by French poet Théophile Gautier (30 August 1811 – 23 October 1872) and shared by certain members of the Aesthetic Movement, such as James Abbott McNeil Whistler. Yet, as noted above, the Anglo-Japanese style is partly rooted in the creed of members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It is innovative, Charles Baudelaire‘s “du nouveau, newness.

Plonger au fond du gouffre, Enfer ou Ciel, qu’importe?
Au fond de l’Inconnu pour trouver du nouveau!

(See “Le Voyage” VIII, Les Fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil].)

Sideboard by Arthur Godwin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sideboard by Arthur William Godwin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848 by British artists William Hunt (2 April 1827 – 7 September 1910), John Everett Millais (8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882). As noted below (see 3), it would not allow any thing [sic] or person “of a commonplace or conventional kind.”

  1. The movement was called brotherhood, which could suggest equality and fraternity, but members of the brotherhood were brothers in that they rejected Sir Joshua Reynolds, (16 July 1723 -23 February 1792), renamed Sir ‘Sloshua’, the founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts.
  2. Pre-Raphaelites also wished to return to the art preceding the High Renaissance  paintings of Raphael (6 April or 28 March 1483 – 6 April 1520).
  3. Pre-Raphaelites would not allow “anything lax or scamped in the process of painting … and hence … any thing [sic] or person of a commonplace or conventional kind.”[1] (See Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Wikipedia.)
  4. But the group “continued to accept the concepts of history painting, mimesis, imitation of nature as central to the purpose of art.” (See Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Wikipedia.)
  5. The Pre-Raphaelites’ mentor was John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900), the most prominent art critic of the Victorian era who advocated “truth to nature.”
  6. It would be joined by other artists.[2]
    (See Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Wikipedia.)
Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse, 1903 (Photo credit: WikiArt)

Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse, 1903 (Photo credit:

The Aesthetic Movement

  • roots in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
  • roots in the Gothic (William Morris & Edward Burne-Jones)
  • roots in Japonism (Impressionism)

The Aesthetic Movement promoted the concept of art for art’s sake, l’art pour l’art. Consequently, there are affinities between the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Aesthetic Movement. They may differ however in that the Pre-Raphaelites “continued to accept the concepts of history painting, mimesis, imitation of nature as central to the purpose of art.” This could explain why John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) praised the movement (see 5). He advocated “truth to nature”.

For Ruskin “truth to nature” did not seem consistent with the allusive nature of McNeill’s Impressionism. John Ruskin therefore criticized American, but London-based artist James McNeill Whistler stating that Whistler was a “coxcomb” who “asked two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.” (See James Abbott McNeil Whistler, Wikipedia.) Such was John Ruskin’s description of Whistler’s “Nocture in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket”. Whistler sued and won, but he had to declare bankruptcy and lost the “White House” designed for him by Arthur William Godwin, the cabinet-maker who created the “sideboard” shown above.

Yet if the Pre-Raphaelites are to be linked to another 19th-century British art movement, it would be the art for art’s sake Aesthetic Movement which paralleled, albeit to a lesser extent, the decadence of French poets and artists of the second half of 19th-century. French poets were drinking absinthe, which contained an hallucinogen, thujone. For his part, Dante Gabriel Rossetti took chloral.

Although James McNeill Whistler introduced Dante Gabriel Rossetti to Japonism in 1860, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is not related to Japonism. It remains however that if the Aesthetic movement could accommodate “Ruskinian Gothic”, not to mention the medievalism of such devotees as William Morris and Sir Edward Burne-Jones, one wonders why it would reject Ruskinian “truth to nature”.

The Gothic

  • William Morris
  • Edward Burne-Jones

Arthur William Godwin‘s “sideboard” is in the Anglo-Japanese style,  which, as is the case with all the movements listed above, is a forerunner of Aestheticism. As an architect-designer, Godwin, who designed the desk displayed above, also drew his inspiration from “Ruskinian Gothic”. Although exotic Japonism helped shape the art of 19th-century Britain, the stained-glass pieces of Sir Edward Burne-Jones (28 August 1833 – 17 June 1898) reached into the Medieval era, as did Arthur William Godwin’s gothic Northampton Guildhall. Morris and Burne-Jones met as students at Oxford and both were attracted to the Middle Ages, or Gothic, praised by John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) who was not only the most prominent art historian and critic of the Victorian era, but also a fine artist.

Northampton Guildhall, built 1861–64, displays Godwin's "Ruskinian Gothic" style.

Northampton Guildhall, built 1861–64, displays Godwin’s “Ruskinian Gothic”style. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Ruskin: The Stones of Venice

John Ruskin is the author of the Stones of Venice, published in three volumes between 1851 and 1853. William Morris was so impressed by a chapter entitled “On the Nature of the Gothic”, that he had it printed separately by Kelmscott Press, the Arts and Crafts press, named after Kelmscott Manor, the Morris family’s country residence. (See Morris and the Kelmscott Press, the Victorian Web.) In 1861, William Morris founded a firm, the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (See Peter Paul Marschall and Charles Joseph Faulkner, Wikipedia.)

The Peacock room, The Princess from the land of porcelain by William McNeill Whistler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Peacock room, The Princess from the Land of Porcelain by William McNeill Whistler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Japonism and the Aesthetic Movement

Whistler was one of the first to appreciate the true significance of the Japanese prints which had begun to appear in the West after Japan’s centuries of isolation ended in the 1850s, and to see that such works, whose subject matter was generally unknown or without much meaning even when it was ascertainable, forced people to think and to see entirely in terms of pictorial qualities, of line and pattern and color; to adapt them as demonstrations of the principle that Reality in painting is intrinsic, not a matter of copying anything outside itself.[3] 

Japonism, however, would characterize the art of American but London-based James McNeill Whistler and American impressionist William Merritt Chase (1 November 1849 – 25 October 1916). Their Japonism is one of subject matter mainly, but exotic subject matter depicted in the rather allusive manner of Impressionism. Both showed blue and white porcelain, fans, screens and ladies wearing kimonos that displayed an oriental motif. “The Blue Kimono”, featured below, is one of the finest paintings created by William Merritt Chase.

The Blue Kimono by William Meritt Chase, 1898 (Photo credit:

The Blue Kimono by William Merritt Chase, 1898 (Photo credit:

Cult of Beauty or Symphony in White no 2 (The Little White Girl) by James McNeill Whistler

Cult of Beauty or Symphony in White no 2 (The Little White Girl) by James McNeill Whistler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whistler and Chase: the Decorative Arts

  • rooms copied
  • studios copied

Ironically, it could be said of both Whistler and Chase that their Japonism was of a decorative nature. The rooms they showed became fashionable and so did the clothes worn by the ladies they portrayed. Whistler’s “Peacock Room” is not altogether consistent with the domestication of the arts advocated by the Arts and Crafts Movement, founded by William Morris. Whistler’s “Peacock Room” is a room, but it borders on art for art’s sake. It was designed in the Anglo-Japanese style and is housed in the Freer Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C..

The Teenth Street Studio by William Merrit Chase

The Tenth Street Studio by William Merritt Chase (Photo credit:


  • the broadening of the arts
  • the versatility of artists

Anglo-Japanese Style was applied to cabinet-making. However, the 19th-century British art movement we tend to associate with interior design and the decorative arts is the Arts and Crafts Movement, founded by William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896). The Arts and Crafts Movement will be discussed in a separate post, but we have already witnessed a certain domestication of the art and a broadening of the field of art. Henceforth, it will include applied arts and such artists as William Morris and Sir Edward Burne-Jones will be extremely versatile. Whistler, who designed the luxurious “Peacock Room” and sued revered Ruskin, was an interior designer, a painter, and a printmaker.


Sources and Resources


[1] Timothy Hilton, The Pre-Raphaelites (Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 46.

[2] They would be joined by painters James Collinson and Frederic George Stephens, Rossetti’s brother, poet and critic William Michael Rossetti, and sculptor Thomas Woolner,  Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and John William Waterhouse.

[3]  Alan Gowans, The Restless Art: a History of Painters and Painting 1760-1960 (Philadelphia and New York:  J. B. Lippincott Company, 1966), p. 237.

Nathan Milstein plays Jules Massenet’s Méditation from Thaïs


© Micheline Walker
19 November 2015




The Massacre in Paris


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The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci

The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci (Louvre paintings)

I haven’t been able to write for several days because of flu symptoms. But I thought I should “drop in”.


The events in Paris have left me numb. I looked at the photograph of persons who died at the Bataclan. Some were very young. President François Hollande called the massacre an act of war.

It is my understanding that Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is pulling Canada out of the Middle East. I wonder whether or not he will reconsider this decision in light of Friday’s brutal and senseless attacks.

This time, President Hollande was blamed. Terrorists always find a scapegoat.

The attacks will no doubt complicate the migration crisis. Europeans may fear some refugees are terrorists in disguise.

In Canada, tout le bataclan is translated as “the whole kit and caboodle”. But the word “bataclan” has acquired a new meaning.

I feel so sorry for the victims, their families, their friends. France has lost one of the Four Freedoms, freedom from fear. I grieve for France. French Canadians look upon the French as cousins.

My kindest regards to all of you.

Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor, sings Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
“Sì dolce è il tormento” (1624)

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

© Micheline Walker
15 November 2015

Veterans Honoured: a Moment of Grace


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Poppies by Sarah Hair Olson (Photo:

Veterans honoured in Sherbrooke

Roland Moisan

Roland Moisan

Yesterday, my uncle Roland Moisan, now more than 92 years old, a veteran who survived D-Day, received the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest award, for his role during World War II.

My uncle was a volunteer who left for Europe in 1941. It was a long trip: three weeks. The ships had to avoid German submarines. When they got to Liverpool, bombs were falling.

The day my uncle and fellow soldiers left England, they did not know what duty had been assigned to them. The débarquement, D-Day, had to be a secret. The soldiers loaded what they were told to load unto boats and it turned out their destination was Normandy.

I visited all the beaches and cliffs of the débarquement. How did they survive? My uncle says that those who should be decorated are his fallen comrades. He was then tall, strong, nimble and the soldiers had been well-trained.

There was no disorder, but they were in hell. Men were falling. It must have been horrible to see comrades killed. When this happens, one must wonder why one is spared death.

A Moment of Grace

As the soldiers who had survived travelled north, towards Germany, my uncle was transporting young prisoners of war. Two of them got ahold of him and lowered his head. He lost his rifle. If these prisoners had not lowered my uncle’s head, it would have been severed by a wire. They had saved his life. One of the prisoners then picked up the fallen rifle and returned it to my uncle, smiling.

These soldiers were the innocent victims of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. That’s what they were, and so was my uncle. Roland Moisan says he will never forget that one moment. It was a moment of grace.

Poppy Field

df924e25-b01b-495f-b6e7-c084bc8a7086_profile© Micheline Walker
9 November 2015

Johann Amos Comenius: Word and Art


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Relief Komensky in Dolany, Czech Republic

Relief Komensky in Dolany, Czech Republic (Photo credit: Michal Manas)

I reread the post I published yesterday and it seems complete. It simply leads to related subjects.

Johann Amos Comenius

However, I added titles to the post and mentioned a related article. The related post is about Czech educator John Amos Comenius (28 March 1592 – 15 November 1670) who advocated combining text and a relevant illustration in textbooks. He was the first to do so. In textbooks, the combination of word and art is essential.

Comenius lived after the invention of the printing-press, in the mid 1400s. He could therefore have the books he wrote printed quickly and then add illustrations.

Educator John Comenius might be our best example of persons who realized that the invention of the printing-press could have an immense influence on literacy, which the inclusion of illustrations could enhance.

Adding illustrations was difficult, and they were white and black.

Comenius’ books may now be read online.

I added pictures and a video to invigorate my old post. Here is our link:

Comenius: Orbis Sensualium Pictus (13 November 2011)

Music: Carmina Burana, Carl Orff

Johann Comenius
Johann Comenius

© Micheline Walker
7 November 2015

Word and Art


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A Mad Tea-Party by Arthur Rackham (Photo credit:

A Mad Tea-Party by Arthur Rackham (Photo credit: Wikipedia.commons)

Japonisme is a French term. It was first used by Jules Claretie (3 December 1840 – 23 December 1913) in L’Art français en 1872 (French Art in 1872). I chose it to describe, in part, the Golden Age of illustration in Britain. The art work that was flooding Europe after Japan’s Sakoku (locked country) period were mere wood-block prints, or ukiyo-e, but no one could question their beauty. They were in fact not only genuine art, but in many cases, masterpieces.

the Writer and the Illustrator

In Britain, Japonisme ushered in the Golden Age of illustrations. Both word and art could be reproduced very quickly. An author retained the services of an artist, John Tenniel, who, for his part, retained the services of an engraver or engravers. The engravers of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871) are the Brothers Daziel.

Although some artists could illustrate their text, which was the case with Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943), the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, in most cases, illustrating a book successfully required the collaboration and compatibility of a writer and an artist. The illustrations were then engraved, unless the illustrator was also an engraver.


The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Therefore, when John Tenniel accepted to illustrate Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871), he and Lewis Carroll had long discussions. John Tenniel was accepting his first commission as the illustrator of children’s literature. Until he agreed to illustrate Lewis Carroll’s Alice, John Tenniel had been working as a political cartoonist for Punch magazine. He could draw, but the subject matter was brand new. Consequently, if successful, illustrating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass could make history. Besides given that Lewis Carroll was a pioneer in the area of official literary nonsense, his task was all the more challenging. What was John Tenniel to do each time the text grew “curiouser and couriouser”?

Literary nonsense

Edward Lear (12 or 13 May 1812 – 29 January 1888) had published his Book of Nonsense, in 1846, a few decades before the Golden Age of Illustration. In particular, he had popularized limericks, a literary genre, poetry to be precise. Witty literature was not new. It found a rich expression in the Salons of the first half of the 17th century in France and it was, to a certain extent, related to the conceit (la pointe), the witty and ingenious metaphors of the metaphysical poets of 17th-century England. Literary nonsense would become a feature of children’s literature.


The flowers are beginning their masquerade as people. Sir Jonquil begins the fun by Walter Crane, 1899 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass were very successful and all the more so because children had gained importance. Although the mortality rate among children had not abated drastically, advances in medicine allowed parents to expect their children to survive childhood. Queen Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a Prince consort, and gave birth to nine healthy children who married royals.

Gutenberg continued: the Instantaneous, yet…

Moreover the success of Lewis Carroll‘s and Tenniel’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, word and art, did make history. Johannes Gutenberg‘s invention of the printing-press in the middle of the 15th century had been major revolution, one of the most significant in European history. Well, a book had been produced that included fine reproductions of beautiful images. Printed books containing printed illustrations had been produced between 1500 and 1865 but Japonisme had eased the task.

The Calligrapher & the Artist

Compared to the labour of monks who copied books one at a time, Gutenberg’s invention made printing a text seem instantaneous, hence the revolutionary character of the invention of the printing-press. Let us also consider that the printing-press led to the growth of literacy which, in 19th-century Britain, was being extended to children as children’s literature was popular. However, if an illustrated book were to be a commercial success, producing the book demanded that word and art match in an almost inextricable manner.

What comes to mind is the collaboration between the calligrapher and the artist who illuminated such books as Books of Hours, laicity’s Liber Usualis. The printing-press had been invented but, as noted above, a good relationship between the author and the illustrator was crucial:

“There was a physical relation of the illustrations to the text, intended to subtly mesh illustrations with certain points of the text.” (See John Tenniel, Wikipedia.)


Printing illustrations, however, constituted a more challenging task than printing a text, a challenge that was eased by Japonisme. First, Japonisme allowed the rapid printing of illustrations. Second, it validated the work of illustrators. But third, it also simplified the duplication of illustrations.

Typically, the art of Japan featured:

  • a diagonal line crossing a vertical or horizontal line;
  • flat or lightly shaded colours;
  • a stark outline;
  • &c

Composition did not ease a printer’s labour, but flat colours and a stark outline, i.e. the linearity of Japanese wood-block prints, did help the illustrator and the printer. So did the use of flat colours.

Rackham’s work is often described as a fusion of a northern European ‘Nordic’ style strongly influenced by the Japanese woodblock tradition of the early 19th century. (See Arthur Rackham, Wikipedia.)

Rackham’s “Mad Tea-Party”, featured above, exhibits a diagonal line and it is a linear work of art. The colours are poured inside lines, which reminds me of colouring books for children. But note that there are few shadows. The cups and saucer do not cast a shadow, nor does the teapot. As for dimensionality, it is expressed through the use of lines rather than a juxtaposition of shades of the same colour or the juxtaposition of different colours. Wood-block printing allowed for a measure of dimensionality through the use of lighter or darker tones of a colour or colours. However, by and large, Japanese wood-block prints do not show the shadow of the objects they depict.

With respect to linearity, one need only compare Katsushika Hokusai‘s (c. 31 October 1760 – 10 May 1849) “Self-Portrait” and Rackham’s illustration of the “Town mouse and Country mouse”, shown in a previous post. Moreover, draping or dimensionality is achieved by using less lines (pale: close) or more lines (dark: distant).


Self-Portrait by Hokusai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Town mouse and Country Mouse by Arthur Rackham (

Town Mouse and Country Mouse by Arthur Rackham (Photo credit:


Arthur Rackham’s illustrations are close to ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”). Walter Crane, however, is the most prolific among Japoniste illustrators of children’s books. He illustrated a very large number of literary works. We are acquainted with his Baby’s Own Æsop (Gutenberg [EBook #25433]), but he also illustrated The Baby’s Own Opera (Gutenberg [EBook #25418]), songs for children. Folklorists, however, had collected and classified a very large number of folk tales.

Illustrators had countless tales to illustrate: those produced by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian AndersenPerrault, Madame d’Aulnoy. Anyone can rewrite the “Little Red Riding Hood” and illustrate it. Carl Larsson illustrated the “Little Red Riding Hood” in 1881. The Arts and Crafts movement was international. (to be cont’d)

I apologize for the delay. My computer is nearly dead and life has a way of making demands.

With my kindest regards.

The Little Red Riding Hood by Carl Larsson

The Little Red Riding Hood by Carl Larsson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Japanese Artists

Japonisme in France & Britain


Sources and Resources

“Alice in Wonderland” Tim Burton 2010 by Danny Elfman
Jane Burden Morris

066118© Micheline Walker
6 November 2015

The Golden Age of Illustration in Britain


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Alice in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham (Photo credit:

The Golden Age of Illustration

Browsing through Women Painters of the World, from the time of Caterina Vigri, 1413–1463, to Rosa Bonheur and the present day, Walter Shaw Sparrow‘s selection of paintings by women and associated articles (1862 – 1940), I found works by Kate Greenaway and remembered the diversity Japonism had introduced in European art. Japonism swept Europe. It influenced Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, and numerous other artists. But is also led to the Golden Age of illustration in Britain, the age of Walter Crane (1845-1895), Randolph Caldecott, Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914), Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), Beatrix Potter

For the moment, however, we will glimpse the art of British artists, some of whom had been or were members of the Arts and Crafts movement (1890 – 1920) or had benefited from the broadening of objects and styles considered artistic introduced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, founded in 1848. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood conferred acceptability to areas of the visual arts that had seemed marginal in earlier years, such as history painting and the illustration of books, children’s literature especially, and artwork that was reproduced, or prints.

Such movements broke with the constraints of academic painting and introduced a democratization of art. The “beautiful” could be found in a piece of textile or wallpaper, the decoration of a room, or to put it in a nutshell: design. Given the breadth of this subject, I will show art by Walter Crane, Arthur Rackham and Sir John Tenniel. This particular post is an illustrated introduction.

C.59.g.11 97 detail Courtesy of The British Library

A Mad Tea-Party, Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel (25)
(Courtesy of The British Library)

By clicking on British children’s literature illustrators, you will find a list of illustrators of children’s literature:
They are also listed at the foot of this post.

Town mouse and country mouse by Arthur Rackham

Town mouse and country mouse by Arthur Rackham (Photo credit: Google Images)

Centuries of Childhood

  • acceptance of childhood
  • moralistic literature
  • oral tradition

As it flourished, the illustration of children’s literature reflected a major transformation. Childhood was not born until recently, which can be explained, at least in part, by the high mortality rate among children. Too few reached adulthood. Besides, children’s literature had been put into the service of education. It was didactic and moralistic, or so people thought. (See Philippe Ariès and Centuries of Childhood, Wikipedia.) It was as though children were born tainted with the original sin, a condition baptism did not correct fully.

In literature, Æsopic fables flourished long before Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit). There are several illustrators of Æsopic fables who are also, to a large extent, illustrators of Jean de La Fontaine. Jean de La Fontaine retold a large number of Æsopic fables that had been taken away from the realm of oral tradition beginning with Latin author Phædrus (1st century CE) and Greek author Babrius (2nd century CE). (See Phædrus [fabulist], Wikipedia.) These were supposedly didactic, but the Horatian ideal, to inform and to delight, was not always served. Children were delighted and did not necessarily identify with the careless behaviour of a mere grasshopper. The tale was not about the behaviour of children; it was about the behaviour of a grasshopper. Children knew the difference.


  • the Sakoku (locked country) period
  • incunabula
  • art reproduced: prints

Illustrations have solid roots in Western culture. Jean de France, duc de Berry paid a fortune for his illustrated Très Riches Heures. But it could well be that Japonism triggered the British Golden Age of illustration and its large European counterpart. Japan had isolated itself in the 17th century (1633–39). No one could enter or leave Japan under penalty of death. That period of Japan’s history is called the Sakoku period, which ended in 1853 with the forcible entry of the Black Ships of Commodore Matthew Perry.

However, as of 1860, Europe was flooded with Japanese prints. As prints, these were not the unique works of art Europeans created (beginning with the 8th-century Book of Kells). After the invention the printing press, certain books were still illuminated by hand. But, as of 1501, printers no longer left room on a page for an illustrator to illuminate a printed text. The hand-painted printed books produced during the period that spans the invention of printing and the demise of hand-painted books are called incunabula (les incunables).

Contrary to Europeans, the Japanese printed their artwork and these were considered by Europeans to be genuine artwork, despite duplication. Even Vincent van Gogh could afford a Japanese print of which he liked both the style and the subject matter. He did not learn a printing technique, but Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Mary Cassatt did. Art had become affordable and it spread to design, to use a broad term. Moreover, certain artists’ Japonism consisted in including the objects of the Orient in their paintings: white and blue porcelain, fans, screens… Many artists also liked the beau idéal Japan proposed.

Ironically, appreciation of Japan’s beau idéal contributed to the emergence of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and, eventually, modernism. Art Nouveau flourished during the golden years of illustration. However, the most significant element Japonism brought to European art was an acceptance of art reproduced: prints.

Japanese artists reproduced their art, called ukiyo-e, using wood block printing. Consequently, they did not adhere to the notion that a work of art should be unique and original. Apprenticeship consisted in attempting to master the art of one’s master. For Japanese artists, beauty was not a matter of taste. They supported the concept of a beau idéal, which meant that, in their eyes, beauty was one of a kind, but not the artwork.


It is in this respect, the acceptability of prints, that Japonism paved the way for the golden age of illustrations (see Illustration, Wikipedia). Many of us do purchase original art, but a reproduction can provide the same pleasure as the original. Such is the case of my beloved Child Händel. It is an inexpensive copy of a painting by Margaret Isabel Dicksee, but I like it. So did Walter Shaw Sparrow and Ralph Peacock who either compiled, the former, or, the latter, wrote a chapter of Women Painters of the World (Gutenberg [EBook #39000]).

As it happens, a poster by Toulouse-Lautrec may cost millions. Several copies were made, but few are available and the art of Toulouse-Lautrec is considered beautiful by a large number of art lovers. Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there is a significant degree of unanimity with respect to the beauty of certain works of art.

Early Illustrators

Jean de La Fontaine‘s Fables were illustrated from the moment they proved successful. As well, given that many were rewritings of Æsopic fables, the stories they told had the merit of being familiar. La Fontaine had several illustrators, the most famous of whom is Gustave Doré. But Doré’s illustrations are monochrome. Wood engravings and etchings, an intaglio technique, may be coloured, but prints are often monochrome art. (See Wood engraving and Etching, Wikipedia.)

Pioneers of “copied” art are John Leech (Punch), George Cruikshank (illustrator &c), Hablot Knight Browne (Dickens‘ illustrator), Honoré Daumier (French caricaturist), George du Maurier (cartoonist) and others.

However, we are beginning with John Tenniel, Arthur Rackham and Walter Crane. Walter Crane illustrated The Baby’s own Æsop. (See Gutenberg [EBook #25433] and Laura Gibbs’ Early illustrations were not coloured. Gustave Doré‘s, illustration of La Fontaine are monochrome pieces. Prints, such as the oriental prints that flooded Europe after the Sakoku period, could be coloured, in which they differed substantially from monochrome prints. Both Arthur Rackham and Sir John Tenniel produced monochrome as well as coloured illustrations and both illustrated Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

They and Walter Crane are our artists, as space and the nature of weblogs do not allow me to feature Beatrix Potter—who illustrated the books she wrote, the Peter Rabbit stories, Kate Greenawayand others. All are listed at the foot of this post. Pictures can be found by clicking on the name of the artist. Their work may also be seen at Write the name of the artist and specify However, the art of other illustrators may be shown in future posts. 

Walter Crane was influenced by Japanese colour-prints (see Walter Crane, Wikipedia). As for Sir John Tenniel, he drew his illustrations which were then engraved by the Brothers Dalziel. (See Sir John Tenniel, Wikipedia.) Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice in Wonderland are a Gutenberg [EBook #114] publication.

Sir John Tenniel engaged in nonsense art and Lewis Carroll, in literary nonsense, but Carroll did not write limericks. Nonsense is an umbrella term and, although limericks can be used in children’s literature, they may be not suitable for children. Unlike Walter Crane’s The Baby’s own Æsop, “Hercules and the Waggoner” a fable by Æsop and La Fontaine, and Rudyard Kipling’s “Small boy of Quebec,” which is witty and delightfully naïve, limericks may be crude. But Walter Crane produced Toy Books inspired by Japanese art.


Toy Book by Walter Crane (Gutenberg [EBook #25433])



The Little Red Riding Hood by Walter Crane (Gutenberg [EBook #19993])


I must close this very incomplete post, but we have seen a significant expansion of the areas that could be considered legitimate art, from illustrations to design. Japonism played a role in this expansion and it also played a role in a democratization of art as did the Arts and Crafts movement.

As we know from previous posts, French artist Bernard Boutet de Monvel earned a handsome living as an etcher and designing interiors. So did Coco Chanel, designing clothes…

With kindest regards to all of you.


Sources and Resources

  • Walter Crane, The Baby’s Own Aesop (Gutenberg [EBook #25433])
  • Mabie, Hale & Forbush, Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories (Gutenberg [EBook #19993])
  • Sir John Tenniel, Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Gutenberg [EBook #114])
  • Women Painters of the World (Gutenberg [EBook #39000])

List of British illustrators (Golden Age)

Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
(music: “Lake Louise” composed by Japanese pianist Kuhki Kuramoto

Alice in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham

© Micheline Walker
30 October 2015
revised 31 October 2015

“The Child Händel” by Margaret Isabel Dicksee


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The Child Handel by Margaret Isabel Dicksee, 1893

The Child Händel by Margaret Isabel Dicksee, 1893 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Memorian

In Memoriam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When I was a child, my father built a high fidelity sound system and, in the evening, his friends came over to listen to records. I grew to love music.

My grandmother realized I was a musician so she gave me the piano her children had used. Later, I received as a reward the above-featured image: The Child Händel. It was monochrome: sepia and ivory, but I thought it was a beautiful picture.

After I was married, I had it mounted on a board so that I could hang it on a wall. It has since followed me, from house to house.

Margaret Isabel Dicksee

However, I could not remember the name of the artist who had created the painting. The name was removed when the print was mounted.

I found the print and the name of the artist when searching for images of Händel, but I also found a book in which it was featured. The artist is Margaret Isabel Dicksee (22 January 1858 – 6 June 1903) and the painting is one of two paintings Walter Shaw Sparrow (1862 – 1940) selected when he published his 1905 Women Painters of the World, from the time of Caterina Vigri, 1413–1463, to Rosa Bonheur and the present day. The second painting is In Memoriam.

Women Painters of the World

I believe yesterday’s more important discovery was Mr. Sparrow’s book. Traditionally, women have been busy weaving fabric and doing needlework rather than painting. Therefore, before 1905, the year Mr. Sparrow’s collection was published, very few books, if any, had showcased women artists. Mr. Sparrow may have known Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot. He may also have known Margaret Isabel Dicksee herself. She died at the age of 45, two years before Women Painters of the World was published. Artist Ralph Peacock wrote that Miss Dicksee “left behind the evidence of a most lovable nature.”[1]

About Miss Dicksee

Margaret was the daughter of Thomas Francis Dicksee, an artist, and the sister of artists Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee PRA KCVO and Herbert Dicksee (14 June 1862 – 20 February 1942). The latter specialized in oil paintings of dogs. If you click on the following link, pooches will appear:

Several of Margaret Isabel Dicksee’s paintings are well-known pieces. Her painting showing Richard Brinsley Sheridan at the Linley’s is a familiar work, but its fame may rest, to a certain extent, on its subject matter: Sheridan at the Linley’s. Sheridan was the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan who married Elizabeth Ann Linley, an accomplished singer.

Dicksee also made a painting of Swift with his Stella. But is it the Jonathan Swift? Jonathan Swift’s Stella was a grown woman, not a child.


Although several of Miss Dicksee’s paintings portray identified and historical figures, her work can also be associated with genre paintings, or scenes from everyday life. This is a characteristic of her art. You may also notice a theme: learning and teaching.


Sheridan at the Linley’s (Photo credit: Google Images)

(Photo credit: Google Images and Corbis)

Swift and his Stella

Swift and his Stella (Photo credit: Google Images)


First Commission (Photo Credit: Google Images)


Let me invite you to look at Sparrow’s book. You will at times be twisting your neck, but it is a well-chosen selection of paintings by women. The music is by Händel, whom the British adopted. He regaled his British public with his Messiah 1741; HMV 56), his Water Music (1717; Suites 348, 349, 350), his music for the Royal Fireworks (1749; HWV 351), and other masterful compositions. He also composed intimate music, such as his pieces for the harpsichord. The video I have embedded is too long, but…

Sources and Resources

Women Painters of the World is a Gutenberg [EBook #39000] publication ←
Women Painters of the World are an Internet Archive publication
The Journal of Swift to Stella is a Gutenberg [EBook #4208] publication
Google Images: Margaret Dicksee

[1] Germaine Greer, The Obstacle Race (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979), p. 314. (Ralph Peacock, in Women Painters of the World, pp. 69 – 70. [EBook #39000])

Georg Friedrich Händel (5 March 1685 – 14 April 1759)
Christopher Hogwood, harpsichord

Feeding the Doves (

Feeding the Doves (

© Micheline Walker
26 October 2015


Limericks: “There was a small boy of Quebec…”


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A Book of Nonsense (ca. 1875 James Miller edition) by Edward Lear


A limerick (see Wikipedia) is a

  • five-line poem.
  • Its meter is predominantly anapestic (ta-ta-TUM).
  • Its rhyme scheme is AABBA.
  • The first, second and fifth lines (A) are usually longer than the third and fourth.
  • It’s intent is humorous.
  • Limericks are probably named after the Irish County of Limerick
  • The word ‘limerick’ was first used in St John, New Brunswick

    There was a young rustic named Mallory, (A)
    who drew but a very small salary. (A)
    When he went to the show, (B)
    his purse made him go (B)
    to a seat in the uppermost gallery. (A)

    Tune: Won’t you come to Limerick.

The First Limerick: Vice and Virtue

  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Vitiorum/virtutum

The oldest attested limerick is a Latin prayer by Thomas Aquinas dating back to the 13th century.

Sit vitiorum meorum evacuatio
Concupiscentae et libidinis exterminatio,
Caritatis et patientiae,
Humilitatis et obedientiae,
Omniumque virtutum augmentatio.

See The Lion & the Cardinal, by Daniel Mitsui 

limericks Cont’d

  • Edward Lear
  • Lewis Carroll

The form appeared in England in the early years of the 18th century and was popularized by:

Limericks Compiled

  • Gershon Legman compiled the “largest and most scholarly edition” of limericks: The New Limerick: 2750 Unpublished Examples, American and British (New York, 1977, ISBN 0-517-53091-0)

Children’s Literature

Limericks are associated with children’s literature.


The Baby’s Own Aesop, illustrated by Walter Crane (Gutenberg [EBook #25433])


John Tenniel‘s depiction of the nonsense creatures in Carroll‘s Jabberwocky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Literary Nonsense

For a list of authors who use or have used literary nonsense, click on literary nonsense (Wikipedia).

Nonsense Device: The Twist

A clever twist makes for a spirited limerick. But never would I have suspected that the great Rudyard Kipling would have used a “small boy of Quebec” to give one of his limericks its rather naïve, but charming twist.


There was a small boy of Quebec,
Who was buried in snow to his neck;
When they said. “Are you friz?”
He replied, “Yes, I is—
But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.”

Rudyard Kipling
[EBook #19993]


Sources and Resources

slear-supposed© Micheline Walker
24 October 2015

Justin Trudeau: Expectations


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Pierre et Justin

Justin Trudeau and Pierre Trudeau: There are both  similarities and profound difference between Father and Son. (The Canadian Press Files)

The Aftermath

I’m returning to the fine arts, stories, music, literature, aboriginals, &c. However, before I turn the page, allow me to comment on reactions that followed Monday’s Liberal Party victory.

On Tuesday, 20 October 2015, I read numerous newspaper articles as well as posts on the Federal election held Monday, 19 October 2015. By and large, journalists were surprised but happy with the outcome of the Canadian election.

However, I had written somewhere that because he was Pierre Trudeau’s son, Justin Trudeau had to face obstacles during his campaign. It was therefore suggested to me that being rich, famous and well-connected was not an obstacle, which I took to mean that being rich, famous and well-connected was an advantage. There can be no doubt that money, fame and the right connections can make a political campaign easier, but that is not altogether the case.

In other words, the fact remains that Justin Trudeau earned his victory in last Monday’s Federal election by presenting a coherent platform and one that addressed the needs of ordinary Canadians, beginning with Canada’s children and its families. It has become increasingly difficult for Canadians to make ends meet and save for retirement.

24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, is the home of Canadian Prime Ministers
(Photo credit: Google Images)

The Leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada

  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau
  • Justin Trudeau

It would be my opinion that, in 2013, during the Liberal Party leadership election, being Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s son probably helped Justin Trudeau secure the leadership of his Party. He replaced Michael Ignatieff (b. 1947) whose Liberals were defeated in the Canadian Federal Election of 2011 and who lost his own seat in Parliament. A change was needed. (See Liberal Party leadership election, 2013.)

However, at the beginning of the electoral campaign that culminated in a victory for the Liberals, Mr. Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, stated that Justin Trudeau[would] exceed expectations if he [came] on stage with his pants on.” The inference was that Justin Trudeau was too young and unable to fill his father’s shoes.

Father and Son: The Moment

  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau
  • Justin Trudeau

A comparison between father and son was inevitable and it is “trending,” which the image featured at the top of this post indicates. Moreover, although allusions to the father, Pierre Trudeau, were scarce during the campaign, the statement uttered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the onset of the 2015 Federal Election campaign remained on the mind of voters.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau was a Professor of Law who held a Master’s degree in Political Economy from Harvard University and had studied at both the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics. I will list some of the highlights of the Trudeau years.[1]

The above list is incomplete. Moreover, I should mention that Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s decisions and policies were not always popular. On the contrary. For instance, in October 1970, members of the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ), the terrorist branch of Quebec’s separatist movement, kidnapped British diplomat James Cross and assassinated Quebec’s Minister of Labour and Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte (25 February 1921 – 17 October 1970). (See October Crisis, Wikipedia.)

Trudeau brought on the War Measures’ Act and, as a result, militant separatists were arrested and several spent a night or more, in prison. These Quebecers have since been elevated to martyrdom.

I should also note that many Québécois and French Canadian nationalists resented the introduction of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism seemed inconsistent with the previously enacted biculturalism.

The Multiculturism Act was not passed until 1988, under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, but it was Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, embedded in the Constitution Act of 1982.

In short, the truly great Pierre Trudeau miffed a few citizens, and Justin Trudeau was not a sure winner if compared to his father. Although the son has a more engaging personality than the father, they share several views and the son is as determined as the father.

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau is well-educated, but he is not the intellectual his father was. People remember. But let us consider that times have changed and that, in 2015, Justin Trudeau seemed the man of the moment, just as his father had seemed the man of the moment in the 1970s, but for different reasons. In choosing leaders, the moment is a crucial factor. Between 1968 and 1984, the moment called for the intellectually polished Pierre Elliott Trudeau to lead the country. But 2015 was a different moment.

In 2015 Canada needed a Prime Minister who realized that Canadians could not make ends meet and who could inspire the nation to help him bring about greater prosperity for everyone. In 2015, Canada needed a Prime Minister who could listen to Canadians and reach out to them. So the man of the moment was no longer Pierre Trudeau, it was Justin Trudeau.

Therefore, contrary to Mr. Harper’s statement, expressed above, Justin Trudeau exceeded expectations. Not only did he come on stage fully and properly dressed, but Canadians found in him a listener and a very approachable candidate. He, Justin Trudeau, had a coherent and persuasive platform.

Yes he needed money to run a campaign, but money is not what brought him a resounding political victory. Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair also had money. One can donate money, within limits, to a political party.


People, members of Parliament and Premiers, are looking forward to working with Justin Trudeau, soon to be the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau. For instance, ten Indigenous Canadians will sit in the House of Commons, la Chambre des communes, which comprises 338 members. One is Robert-Falcon Ouellette, a Métis representing Winnipeg Centre. He holds a PhD.

(Photo credit: Lucas Oleniuk/ Toronto Star)
(Photo credit: Paul Chiasson/ The Canadian Press)

Being rich does not preclude being good. Justin Trudeau is a good person. No, he was not expected to be elected. However, he exceeded everyone’s expectations and may continue to do so.

I have just edited this post, and I apologize.

With kindest regards to all of view.


[1]  Pierre Elliott Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada from 1968 until 1984, with an interruption in 1979-1980, when 40-year-old Conservative leader Joe Clark was Prime Minister.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

1© Micheline Walker
22 October 2015



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