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Sweet Dreams (a Caption Contest)

December 5, 2009

I fell in love with this dreamy watercolor when I found it online at the Leicester Galleries. So I’m running a sort of caption contest: Tell me, on the comments page, your best story based on the picture above in 150 words or less by December 31, 2009. (That’s words, not characters — we are not Twitter, here.)

The story I like best wins its author a package of English tea or biscuits  — winner’s choice.

I don’t think it will dry up anyone’s creative juices if I offer a bit of background on the work, as related in the gallery’s accompanying essay. The artist is Walford Graham Robertson (1866-1948; John Singer Sargent painted him), who was linked to the Aesthetic Movement and an admirer of the pre-Raphaelites. His works included several years worth of children’s books who took as their muse the child of Robertson’s friends, a little girl named Binkie.

One can’t help envying — and admiring — Robertson, when reading, “although his wealthy background meant he did not have to earn a living as an artist, he painted throughout his life.”

By the way, the lovely image above recalls for me some favorites I used to pore over with my kids, like this one

from Going on a Bear Hunt, with art by Helen Oxenbury (also English), and just about anything by illustrator-author Shirley Hughes

whose pictures for the Alfie books and others is so delightfully, obviously English. (Just check out her children’s oxfords, Wellies and woollens, and the tall grown-ups genial, slightly stooped postures.)

Hughes’s genius, and Robertson’s in the painting at top, is in capturing the sweetness of children and families with just enough reality — dirty mouth, stray hair, awkward stoop — to keep them this side of “twee.” I wasn’t surprised to learn that Hughes’s studio looked out on a school playground.

Now, don’t forget the caption contest!

 Robertson artwork courtesy of Peter Nahum At The Leicester Galleries. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2009 1:11 am

    On the way to their neighbor’s house for mutton dinner, Gloria Henspeck insisted that her husband Harold go back home to change into dinner clothes. “What makes you think you can go in your skivvies, Harold?”

    “Oh darling, we’ve known the Shrewsberrys for twenty years,” Harold said.

    Little Victoria Henspeck called after the pooches. “Bobo, Winston, you get to have left over mutton tonight!”

    “Now now,” Uncle Cecil gently instructed her; “Bobo and Winston would much rather have regular dog food made from stewed horsie.”

    Victoria looked up at her uncle with tears in her eyes and screamed. “Horsie!” I will not let them eat Flicka!” Uncle Cecil rolled his eyes and reached down to calm her, thinking that his sister must curtail the girl’s viewing of old American telly shows.

    “Yes, yes. Ok Vicky. I will have the Shrewsberry’s feed them tuna fish. You don’t mind that, do you?”

    Vicky calmed down and smiled. “Chicken of the Sea, yes, much better Uncle Cecil, Chicken of the Sea.”


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