Sunday, 30 June 2013

Salem


When I was a boy, I remember seeing this painting ( well the  print of it) hanging in an old farmhouse 
in Llanasa. The painting is called " Salem" by S. Curnow Vosper and  depicts a Sunday morning at a small Baptist chapel in Cefncymerau, Llanbedr, near Harlech in 1908. The old woman in the centre is  Sian Owen of Ty'n y Fawnog and it is said that she and all of the other characters depicted  were paid 6d to sit for the painter.
I love all of the " hidden" meanings tucked away in the detail.
The colourful shawl ( a nod to vanity perhaps?) the fact that Sian is a few minutes late for service , the little  gremlin like face at the widow , the face of the devil often seen in the folds of the shawl......I wonder just what the artist was trying to say?
The original painting has been loaned out to a Bangor museum from the Lady Lever art gallery at Port Sunlight and Sunlight soap made the image famous by giving away prints of the painting free with their products .
Perhaps it was one of these freebies that I remember seeing in the old farmhouse in Llanasa in the early 70s.

32 comments:

  1. I think the artist was just trying to show a whole group of people waiting for a silly old lady who had attitude and came late in a cool shawl. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Caruso's mother would ALWAYS arrive late for church, just so the others could hear the difference in the quality of the singing after she and her son had arrived. Classy!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I too love to look at all the little details in pictures like this. The little boy with his head bowed. Is he reading, praying or playing? The man in the far right, is he asleep or pondering on the word of God? That old woman has so much character.
    It does make you think what was the painter trying to tell us all.

    ReplyDelete
  4. One of the figures in the painting was represented not by a live human being, but by a tailor’s dummy, christened Leusa Jones by Vosper, which owing to objections from members of the congregation, had to be removed on Saturday evenings before the services were held in the building the next day. ‘Leusa Jones’ is the female figure just right of centre in the painting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YP
      TELL ME MORE... I know nothing about the painting save for what I have written.... I love these kind of details

      Delete
    2. Only one of the seven people who posed for Vosper was actually a member of the chapel, that being Robert Williams, a local carpenter and farmer who lived at Caer Meddyg. He can be seen on the left of the painting with his head bowed in prayer

      Delete
  5. You learn something new every time you visit blogland John. Such interesting information, both by you and by Yorkshire pudding above. I think paintings in this era were often full of hidden imagery which people at the time would recognise and identify with but which but which are lost to us now. The same is true of the imagery in metaphysical poetry - but it doesn't make either of them less fascinating - more so in fact.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I should think a warm shawl was much needed for those old bones in the cold church !

    ReplyDelete
  7. Where is Sister Wendy when you need her.

    ReplyDelete
  8. they can't be witches because they wouldn't be in church!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not witches, but perhaps the... Quakers? who often tried the 'witches'?

      Sorry, I forget, but that's what I thought when I saw the hats.

      Delete
  9. I don't think you and Chris would have survived too long in that community...

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know that women are (or were?) supposed to cover their heads in church, but this is really taking it to extremes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've wondered why the tall hats on even the women!

      Delete
  11. It frightens me as soon as I look at it. Maybe it is the heathen in me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny ...I kind of like the old,bird
      That flash of green in the window fascinates me

      Delete
  12. Thanks for sharing. I love the painting and all of the ongoing comments! As I am part Welsh, I always find any of this fascinating, although we are Welsh Quakers...

    ReplyDelete
  13. It took me a while to get past all those Welsh names in your introduction. Perhaps I should see about an online course in Welsh pronunciation, as I'm sure what's in my head is not at all accurate.

    That shawl would have been fashionable for several decades of the 20th and 21st centuries...including today!

    ReplyDelete
  14. John, you find such fascinating things to post! After your title, I expected to see a painting of the Salem witch trials - wouldn't those folks drop with the vapors at the sight of today's youth with tats, piercings, and pants around the knees?

    Nancy in Iowa

    ReplyDelete
  15. Vary interesting.

    When I hear Salem I think of the witch trials.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The face in the shawl is the stuff of nightmares....I wish I hadn't looked!

    ReplyDelete
  17. What women will do for fashion never ceases to amaze me.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am so Americanized that I immediately thought these ladies were all witches!!.....from Salem, Massachusetts fame.
    Thanks for this Art History 101 lesson, John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The big hats are traditional welsh ladies hats

      Delete
    2. Thanks for that information, John. I didn't know.

      Delete
  19. Most every lady in the photo has a colorful shawl! Very interesting painting John.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Have a good week, John. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I avoided searching out the shawl for evil; I'll trust your word on this. Kinda scary print to have as a childhood memory!

    ReplyDelete
  22. As a child I had a copy of 'And When Did You last See Your Father?' on my bedroom wall...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would have thought you would have had a post of Rita Hayworth

      Delete

I love comments and will now try very hard to reply to all of them
Please dont be abusive x