Saturday 17 January 2009

Suburban sundown - artistic pretensions - # 09/09

At sundown I escaped from Camp Malden Manor (Post - # 09/07) and dashed into the nearby woodlands. To my surprise I came across the exact spot where Millais painted his famous picture of Ophelia drowned.

This is the Hogsmill river. We are standing not very far from the spot where it rises out of the North Downs and then begins to find its path towards the Thames at Kingston. Being winter, the banks have no flowers to decorate them, but nevertheless one gets a good sense of the Ophelia "atmosphere" that inspired Millais.

I did not see Ophelia, but I you must admit that the two old motor tyres really do look the part! The Bypass (Post - # 09/08) is very close, so it's easilly accessible by car ;-).

Suburban sundown - not always quite so awful as it often looks. Also......cut and paste the link in my Postscript note below. It's an unexpected insight into Millais's work.


  1. Thank goodness! Now that's more like it! Beautiful riverbank and two decorative tyres making the picture perfect, not to mention the commentary which make me fall about. Ophelia, Ophelia, where art tho?

    Love the photograph, the light on the water and that beautiful winding pathway. Reckon, Mr Rat is down there somewhere, not to mention Mr. Toad.

    Have a great weekend, Chuckeroon and thanks for the river.

  2. Sorry, I meant to write 'made' me fall about.

  3. Postscript: Some of you will have noticed the misery I am experiencing trying to put together this "Suburban sundown" series. I have just discovered Millais's note on his miserable experience sitting beside the Hogsmill River trying to paint Ophelia.

  4. That postscript is so funny. I adore his sense of humour - almost as much as I love yours.

  5. The pre-raphaelite movement is a favourite subtext of mine, so thanks for the connection. The textures are indeed the sort of thing the PRB sought to include. Millais was a bit of a boy wonder, initially with the group. It should be pointed out that he didn't actually paint Lizzie Siddal in the stream here - only the landscape. She being the muse and subject of several voluptuous portraits from the period. It is sometimes wrongly said that she died as a result of posing for Millais as Ophelia in his bath - she indeed got ill and a bit cross, but died later from more artistic causes. Woops I'm blethering again...

  6. ... and, although not with botanical rigour, the photo definitely recalls "There is a willow grows aslant a brook..."

  7. A fun picture and tells us much of today's world from that of Millais, I seem to recall from my art school days that Millais model nearly died of pneumonia while modelling for the picture.... there are tales of many candles under a bath to keep the water warm...


  8. That reminds me of the little creeks here in suburbian Cologne. It's not all 'the idyll' because people leave their rubbish there. Apart from these tyres it seems to be a nice place.

  9. @Richard.........The strong DoF of the extended telephoto lens has made it fuzzy, but Yes, Richard, it is indeed a willow, cut back to a large stump. An exciting discovery! But a dodgy "factoid" of evidence. It does indeed help to prove that perhaps black is really white.

  10. Nice change of pace for us today. Reminds me of a brook that runs beside my walking trail. Always the occasional plastic bag or such to mar the tranquility of it all. Thanks for the historical info as well.

  11. Hi Roon,
    Sorry you missed Ophelia... But at least you got two tyres... ;))
    The Suburban series is great!!
    Have a great week!

  12. Te famous painting of Ophelia has of course the flowers and the colours that may be missing on your photo. I prefer however to see some abandoned tyres that a body in the creek! :-)

  13. I must have missed this elegant spot the last time I was here. It looks like a scrap heap for tyres and not Ophelia's place. LOL

    I have two new blogs to show you:

    Dips Pen
    Abraham Lincoln's Blog

  14. Que c'est émouvant et si romantique ! Comment as tu su que c'était Là exactement qu'avais été peint le tableau ? Sans doute un panneau ou une renommée ?
    J'ai la chance d'habiter le pays des impressionnistes, l'église qu'a peinte Van Gogh à Auvers sur Oise a bien changé (pas l'église mais la rue les arbres). La ville de Pontoise de Pissarro a changé aussi ainsi que les environs, mais l'esprit est toujours là, il est dans l'air que l'on respire, il est dans la lumière, dans le ciel. Cela n'a pas d'importance ces pneus ou ces fleurs qui manquent. Ce qui compte c'est qu'un jour, là, un peintre ait senti souffler l'esprit shakespearien et que toi aujourd'hui tu nous en fasses aussi profiter. Merci.

  15. Avec tout ça il faut que je me défende : ma photo de la bergerie a été prise avec mon nouvel appareil, le fameux canon G10 dont tout le monde dit grand bien. Je n'ai pas eu le droit de l'ssayer avant Noël, aussi je ne le connaissais pas très bien. La lumière en Provence est très dure. J'avais trop diminué l'ouverture, alors j'ai éclairci et accentué le contraste certe, mais sur l'ensemble de la photo. Pas uniquement sur la façade.