Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Supper with Timothy Wilson (the Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean) and his wife Jane was magical. I learned so much and was made to feel so welcome. Timothy and Jane were truly fabulous company. They had both been to see Possessed at Oxford Playhouse and were excited by the connection between the art and theatre world. Colin Harrison the Keeper of Pre-Raphaelite Art also made an appearance, before he had to rush off to give a lecture. Colin told me about the up and coming exhibitions and was a wealth of knowledge on everything Pre-Raphaelite. He knew Margaretta Frederick, the curator at the Delaware Art Museum, whom I am meeting during my trip to the States, and knew about every museum in the world which housed the most famous paintings. Before he left he invited me to come to the Museum the following day and look at the drawings and watercolours that Edward Burne-Jones had given to Amy Gaskell, which are housed in the print room. Josceline Dimbleby wrote a wonderful book about her great Aunt Amy, called A Profound Secret. In the book she traces the family secret behind the life and loves of her beautiful great aunt, who sat for one of Burne-Jones' most famous portraits (above). This painting is part of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Collection.
The next day I was allowed into the inner sanctum of the museum to look at the Burne-Jones box of work he had given Amy. I was also able to look through some wonderful drawings by Rossetti, mostly of Lizzie Siddal. Ever since I went to the print room of the British Museum to look at the letters between the characters in the musical I have been obsessed by these people. But the real highlight of the morning was going to look again at the corner of the museum which held the great wardrobe Burne Jones had given Morris and Jane as a wedding present. Janey, of course, featured on the painting at the front. Beside it were two beautiful chalk Rossetti's of Jane - Daydream and Pandora. The richness of the colour and emotion emanating from Jane's face vindicated everything Steve and I had worked for in Possessed.
Posted by Teresa Howard at Wednesday, October 29, 2008