Every Christmas, I listen to In the Bleak Mid-Winter, never realizing the connection to Art Nouveau and the Pre-Raphaelites. That is, until recently. Dante Rossetti’s (one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelites) kid sister, Christina, wrote the poem which was set as a Christmas carol by Gustav Holst and then by Harold Darke. As an aside, Christina was the model for one of Dante Rossetti’s most famous paintings: The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.
On Christmas Eve 1863, William Makepeace Thackeray passed away. He is most famous for his satirical works, specifically Vanity Fair, a mocking portrayal of English society. Even though he experienced great success as a writer, even hailed as equal to Charles Dickens, his personal life was marked by tragedy. His second child, Jane, died at eight months. After the birth of their third child, his wife, Isabella Gethin Shawe, succumbed to depression. Even though he left no stone “un-turned” in his desperate search for a cure, she was eventually confined to a home outside of Paris. He once said, “To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best.”
The Mahogany Tree is a Christmas poem that looks back fondly on past Christmas holidays that were spent happily under a huge mahogany tree, which served as shade and a place to house joyful Christmas memories.
May we remember that this Christmas we are making memories for all that follow.
Merry Christmas, my dear friends! Continue reading