Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Learning From Victorian Families

Please do not misunderstand this article. It is in no way living in the past or rejecting the purpose we have in our own times. The paintings on this article, although classified as "Victorian," are painted by contemporary painters who are still painting wonderful pieces and are obviously as inspired by Victorian niceties as I am!


One of the things I discovered when I was growing up was the evidence of the Victorian past. It amazed me to know that we are all related to the people who left us with great inventions, beautiful houses, and wonderful customs. We are so blessed to be able to take good things from different times in history, and implement them into our lives at home.






One such piece of evidence is their house plans and the structures that are still around.
There was a house called "Folk Victorian," made for common folks that did not have much money. These smaller Victorian homes were just enough for one family to manage, and not too hard on their finances, and yet, they preserved all the same kind of function and beauty that made having a home nearly the highest goal in life.

In order to understand why Victorian homes are so enchanting I must explain a little about the house and property plans. These were not merely houses next to a sidewalk, all in a row, sold for a huge amount of money by a builder. Homes were valued and passed down to the next generation. There was usually a story about how such homes came to be, and how they were built; many times they were wedding gifts for a wife.

Even in the folk-Victorian homes, there is something different about them from the modern tract homes. One would never be able to have access to a Victorian home by merely walking up to a door. There would first be a little picket fence or gate that would open. Then a path through a little courtyard area would lead to the front porch. Once inside the front porch, one still did not see the family until they got to the parlor. The Parlor was a room where one waited to be received or refused by the family. If they received you, and it was convenient, and you were a good friend, you might be invited to their living room, where you would be served tea.

Children's friends probably were not invited to the bedrooms, and no one went to the kitchen unless invited. In spite of this seemingly formal protocol, people of the era in America were very well socialized and did not seem to lack for company. Part of a normal routine of the well-to-do women was to take a basket to visit a woman who just had a baby, or someone who was "in low spirits" or to check on a church member who had not been there for awhile.

These seemed to be people who were very private about their personal feelings and very conscious of not wanting to offend anyone. One of the reasons they dressed the way they did, even at the beach, was in order not to be offensive to anyone. They would have never dreamed of showing off portions of the flesh or body that people have no self-consciousness in showing today. If their bodies were private, their homes were even moreso. Houses were private places where the family retreated and it was a great privilege to be invited to tea at someone's well-appointed home, where you would be expected to show good manners, or never be invited again.
Another thing about the Victorian architecture was the way they placed certain rooms to receive the light or privacy, or whatever view they wanted. Roofs were built to over-hang in such a way as to shield the rooms from the sun coming in at a certain time. Close attention was paid to the position of the house and the rooms to accommodate the weather and the sun from the north, south, east and west. A woman, for example, might have a little sitting room where she took tea at a certain hour of the day when the sun was setting and giving off beautiful hues of color, or she might have a room where the light came in perfectly through a window, over her shoulder, on to some needle work she was doing, or a book she was reading. She might have a special "secretary desk" for correspondence.
Another observation I've had, (whether it had any meaning or significance, I do not know) is that the Victorian homes were built up, instead of out. That would make the children's and master bedroom very private and more difficult to access from the outside. I really admire the people who have taken their plain, ranch style contract homes and given them the Victorian sensibilities regarding access. They add gardens and porches and entries that these houses don't have. Building "up" seemed to give more dignity to the human being. They could look out their windows from a height.

A man might have a library where he kept his globe and his collection of books and papers. Though he might be a farmer, he also had a place to pay his bills and keep his safe.

Outside, there would sometimes be a shed where gardening implements were stored. A carriage house kept the carriages neatly arranged and out of sight, sometimes with an apartment above it. Other houses on the property were created for different needs.

From what I've seen while touring Victorian homes, there seemed to be a number of good places for family members to get peace and quiet. Most of the bedrooms were upstairs, and a laundry shute was created to toss the laundry down to the wash room on one of the lower floors. They even had a cleaning system. They could sweep the floors on any level and put the dust down a dust shute that was collected in a large container below.

Many of the rooms in the Victorian homes looked like they were created specifically for a purpose: an office, a nursery for the children, a young lady's room, the master bedroom, and so forth. I always thought it would be nice to keep rooms for the purpose they were meant, instead of turning them into offices and sewing rooms when the children grew up. That way, the next generation could come back to the old home place and see it as it was when their parents were growing up.
In building such homes, the architects combined various influences of the past in architecture, such as: Italianate, Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, Romanesque, and even the ornate style called "gingerbread." When you see a Victorian house, remember it was not so much the style that made it Victorian, but the date in which it was constructed, using many different styles from different eras.

The Victorians were a very inventive generation. They were always looking for a swifter way of doing things, even in the homes. During the Victorian era, the following things were discovered and invented: the sewing machine, the radio, the telephone, indoor plumbing, the vacume cleaner, electric fan, refrigeration, electric machinery, the motor car, and many of the things we used today.

While getting ideas for this article, I came across a nice site that has a free online magazine called "Victorian Magazine." You must sign up for the subscripton in order to see all the articles and art work. Here, you can read all about the houses, and the customs of the Victorians. http://www.victorianamagazine.com/. They have authentic reprinted articles of Godey's Lady's book, a popular periodical of the time, here http://www.victoriana.com/library/doors/whisper.html


and watch a video about the history of paper dolls and their purpose, here http://www.victoriana.com/library/doors/whisper.html. If you cannot get into these sites just sign up for the free subscription.


The photograph of theVictorian house comes from here http://www.oldhousephotogallery.com/19thcentury/a6/00000001


One way to capture the feeling that the people of that era might have had during the day, is to revive the Victorian tea party. It was a time that everyone set aside to sit and enjoy a quiet moment.

I quite enjoy knowing about the Victorians and am always grateful they left a paper trail for us to find out more about them through their photographs, their art, their literature, their letters, and their diaries. I see evidence of their existence around me, through their architecture, even at a time when their own descendents do not follow their same values in life.

Paintings from AllPosters:

"Tea Party" by Melinda Byers
"Victorian Lady I" by John O'Brien
"Victorian Home" by George Bjorkland
A couple of interesting sites concerning today's courses in architecture, which might explain why buildings became so plain and unattractive, and houses became actually less efficient: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=1283

49 comments:

Kate said...

I love reading about traditions from the past.

I have just re-read Mrs Gaskell's "Cranford" and was interested to read that it was impolite to visit before midday. Before then the ladies of the house and the maids were cleaning and neatening so wore 'morning clothes'. At noon they changed their attire, perhaps by simply changing cuffs and collar, so that they were ready for any callers.

Tracy said...

Another lovely article that makes me long for the days gone by. Oh, to live in a time such as that.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

from what I've read, and heard, the woman of the house did not stir outside very early. When women began going to work, those kinds of mornings changed a lot. Now the wife was in too much of a hurry to do anything at home. Even breakfast foods changed, to accommodate the working woman.

I do admire the way so many people are transforming the plain little tract homes into Victorian beauties, in their small way. It makes home a place you feel like staying.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lady Lydia,

Our edwardian and Victorian forefathers were not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. They knew the value of building to optimise the environments in which they lived. In our so called 'technologically advanced' 21st century lives, we now are reaping the benefits of over fifty years of cheap, poorly built housing and construction practices. Double brick, high ceilings, eaves, strategically placed windows to maximise light... and no 'McMansions' for a family of two!! If these simple principles were once again adopted and incorporated into today's housing construction (along with the best of the best in modern, efficient appliances) we would not be in the consumption mess we're in today. We seem to think that 'energy efficiency' is a modern concept; it's not. In the 20th century's rebellion and arrogance, the best of the past was summarily thrown out the window to our detriment. There is an estate in South Western New South Wales here in Australia called 'Jerrabombra' wherein many of the homes were built to older-style and even some victorian and 'Federation' plans. It has won awards and is very lovely (or was a dozen years ago when i lived near the area). if estates could be built like this with the double brick, high ceiling, strategic windows, eves and (to take a word from another contributer here) 'beautility, how lovely, inviting and stewardship-savy would such homes be? Couple this with a return to faith in the vital importance of God and His Word in our public and private lives, family (unclawing the hold of big-state etc), modesty and so on, and we'd have a true revival. Oh, if only the rebellion of the 1920s and later 1960's didn't happen. Who'd like to write a speculative piece concerning what society would have been like if the modesty, faith, family-centredness, beauty and respect for the institutions of authority were maintained along with sensible, thoughtful technological advances - it is an intriguing concept.

Perhaps Lady Lydia or Mrs. Alexandra would like to do this; a 'back to the future' look at the restoration of the best in society, family and faith back into our world currently oh so gone astray and drowning in its rebellion. I've even got a title to get you started...'Just in Time'.

Blessings,

mrs. E.
Australia.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

They built these houses with foresight: how to keep cool in summer, and warm in winter. Today in order to make our homes comfortable we have to spend tons of money just to heat and cool them.

Their carpets were practical and removable. They could hang them on a line and use a carpet beater to clean them, and even wash them. Today our carpets are horribly expensive and impractical. They are unsanitary even if cleaned, and the outer edges do not get a chance for wear and tear. They last only about 6 years and then you have to go through be upheaval to get them replaced.

Also there were trees that were planted by these houses for shade and for beauty. Windows were placed strategically according to what would be seen outside. A woman could look out to her kitchen garden from a window, and doors in various places made it easy to access other areas of the yard.

Anna S said...

I'm not sure I would have wanted to live in the Victorian era. We do have benefits in our time, for example much better medicine. But I do think they had such beautiful, wonderful traditions of family and home. Many of them can still be applied today. What I love the most is the very spirit, the culture of home. This can be restored even in a tiny apartment, by loving touch of a dedicated lady's hands.

Elizabeth said...

I was born when my parents were a bit older, and my parents were both born when their parents were a bit older. One of my grandfathers was born when his mother was 47 years old and his father a few years older than she. So, it's not a very far jump back on my family tree to Victorian days or even back to the Civil War.

Many of my grandfathers' siblings and cousins lived to be quite elderly. WHen I was a child, I assumed that I would always remember the wonderful stories of our family history that they told me. Or, I thought that there would always be someone around to ask if I forgot the details. Now, I wish I had written so many things down!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

It is easy to forget things like this because, at the time, they seem rather ordinary, and we push them out of our minds or don't dwell on them enough to make them register. The best way to recall, is when any fleeting memory comes to the forefront of your mind, write it down in one word, in a little book. Eventually you will be able to write paragraphs about each thing.

Gail said...

I really like what you have brought up here and at Guard the Home, about the need for there to be layers of privacy and protection, in a home and for a family. In the last couple of years I have tried to cultivate this.

The bushes and trees in the front yard of our home are placed strategically, along with a long swing and small fountain, in order to create a parklike setting, and one that makes a distinction between the world at the end of the driveway and the inner sanctum of our home. We have a narrow porch (house is one of the newer ones), but we have porch furniture on it, roses growing in the front of it, and potted morning glories setting out to scale the pillars.

We are blessed to have a foyer to enter from the front door, with doorways for a tiny parlor, the stairwell, the dining room, two closets and the entry to the family room in it. I would like to put up some kind of doors to the rooms off the foyer, because I would like to emphasize the sense that the foyer is the most public room of our private residence, and the place for people to get the impression that this is a someone's little kingdom they are entering and not the local hangout.

We have the open floor plan, which is all the rage today in homes but is the bane of my existence. What it means is, that whoever controls the remote control for the TV controls the mood and focus of everything and everyone downstairs. You may have guessed that I do not control the remote, and if I did, it would be OFF! Sigh.

I am thinking of all this because I have realized only lately, that our home has been way too accessible to the outside world. In the past, my children would have friends hanging out upstairs, and frequently I did not know any of these young people very well. Consequently, I have had valuables disappear, not to mention the deleterious effect this openness has had on my family.

There have also been adults who have wheedled their way in, when they should have had the red carpet of welcome rolled up immediately on them. Instead of being a little more reserved I kept doing what I thought was my Christian, polite duty. By making my home so accessible in the past I am afraid I entertained all kinds of nonsense and distraction.

Another thing the Victorians and even our mid-century childhood homes had, was much more peace and quiet, within the homes and outside of them. My brother was reminiscing about walking down our grandparents' street in Vermont and remembering how it was so quiet that in the summer when the windows were open you could hear the sound of dinner dishes being washed in kitchen sinks, as you walked past the houses. When I was a child a family had a tv, but it was one tv and it was small. We had a little radio on the kitchen counter that my mother would listen to a little bit in the daytime. We didn't have electronics blaring and cell phones going off, bright lights on in every room, tons of traffic to fight, police helicopters circling the neighborhoods every other night, or hideous stereo equipment being protjected like a doomsday weapon from passing cars. It was a lot easier to keep the world out, and serenity within. Since there was hardly no air conditioning, you
had shade trees and you sat out on the porch in the evening, enjoying the sunset and each others' company. I would like to see some of that kind of thing come back.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Yes the influence of that era trickled down to my generation. The home was a private place and "spending the night", slumber parties, etc. were totally foreign. When they did arrive on the scene, they were a preview to the latest disaster of people just "hanging out" at one another's homes. Notice, though that they don't hang out in the more private, formal home that does not offer a pool table, a bar, or the latest media equipment. I wrote an article here a few months ago called "The Formal Home" in which I stressed that if we wanted to reverse the incredibly informal, dressing-down, casual, rude way of life that has imposed itself on us, we should try living more formally at home. I believe there were a lot of comments that objected strongly to what I was saying, assuming I was suggesting we become less hospitable. Hospitality doesn't mean we open the door and let the public walk in and out, using our refrigerator and helping themselves to a cup of coffee. Hospitality is usually extended by choice, and can be for those in need or for the purpose of edifying others. What is going on to day, does not serve a real need or a useful purpose. I did observe that the Victorian architecture put more distance between the family and the public than our houses do today.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lady Lydia,

Very astute observations indeed. So much of it does seem, in retrospect, to come down to the design of the dwelling. Even the small post war home I grew up in, though suffering from the cheap, put-em-up building standards rooms and parts of the home were nonetheless sectioned off; the living room was separated from the rest of the home by a door leading into the hallway. Even the kitchen could be closed off. Originally, this was a one-bedroom home; the room opposite the kitchen intended as a dining room - we needed to commandeer this for a second bedrom. In the first home I lived in as a very little girl, we likewise had a dining room - and these were not flash houses by any stretch of the imagination. As a teen, the home of my singing teacher had a fawyer on the ground floor where she could receive visitors (protecting the abode of students and family ; a small office and stairs leading off from this at either side. the teaching of students and family life was all done upstairs - even this was moderated by the design of the home - modest by today's standards. None of the homes I've lived in in my adult life have been thus ordered - open-plan more or les the order of the day. I would dearly love a more traditional design where the privacy of the home could be maintained.

Thankfully we do have plenty of shade trees round our back garden, but the mcmansions that have sprung up all around simply allow everyone to peer down into even this area right over the treetips (marayas not very tall...).

As i stated in my earlier comments, if the most thoughtful of modern technology (and unnecessarily invasive and inhyumane of modern medicine) could be incorporated with the best of the past (read my earlier comments) what would life be like?everything seems to be casualised and dumbed down to the lowest common denominator - formality dddddddoes not equal pretensciousness by any stretch of the imagination; it is just that society has forgotten this sheltering concept, no longer capable of distinguishing between the two, equating everything that is done with more privacy, beauty and care as being cold and distancing... Bring back the 'drawing room' I say (smile).

Blessings,

Mrs. E.
Australia.

Rosemary said...

The houseI live in was built around 1820,every room can be shut off and apart from one bedroom which is now a study,they all retain their original uses.Even the stairs have a door at the bottom,a familiar feature in English cottagesIn my childhood in the 1950's everybody had a parlour or front room,these were kept neat and pretty for visitors and use at holiday times such as Christmas.We were not allowed in this best room unless given permission.

Anonymous said...

Your articles on Victorian living have been so informative. The thoughts on keeping our homes a private place is one we all need to emulate more. It sure was very thought provoking. I went to the links you gave us, and to links within the links and have learned so much more. The Victorian years did not used to be as facinating to me as it has become through reading books and also posts by you. Thankyou. The link to the Godey's Lady's Book was written so tenderly yet instructively and the conclusion was extra special for both the husbands and wifes to remember. I also want to thank your daughter for the current article she has on her site from an old, I believe, Ladies Home Companion magazine for young ladies...wow! That is a beautiful standard to hold on to...and it went so nicely with your post. I would thank your daughter myself but I do not see anywhere to comment on her site. Please tell her for us that we are getting much out of her beautiful insights. I don't know where she would find this beautiful article but I sure hope to see more of them. I knew many family members etc. who lived through the Victorian times and loved them and their ways so why I did not study more about it before is a wonder. I guess I had a bit of the real thing to cherish for so long I didn't at that time. You tend to think you will have your family around you forever and then they are all gone. Now I wish I had them even more when I realize how much knowledge and love went with their death. I feel so privilaged to have even had them in my life.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

The Pleasant Times is reprinted from her newsletter that she used to hand-write when she was a daughter at home. The article from the Ladies Home Companion came from the Victorian publication she bought at an antique store. I thought it was interesting that the same thing that bothers men about girls is the same thing that bothers them today!

Lillian Elinor did not do a fashion report at The Pleasant Times yesterday, because she had to take a nap.

smilnsigh said...

Such a lovely and informative entry. Plus lovely and informative comments also. This is a treasure trove.

Thank you.

Mari-Nanci

Mrs.E said...

I thoroughly enjoy reading about times gone by. I am absolutely convinced that I was born in the wrong era. But it is definitely a joy to hold on to some of those by gone traditions which I am happy to say I do.

Buffy said...

I always find hearing about how families lived their lives in Victorian times interesting. When I was growning up Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management was a great treasure of mine!

Mrs. Brigham said...

Lady Lydia,

Thank you once again for sharing such lovely thoughts and wisdom. Your articles are always such a delight to read and really do inspire. My grandmother and late great-grandmother often speak about many of the things that you do and your blog always gives me that pick me up I need when I am unable to speak with my grandmother. :o)

Anna said...

Are freedoms I wonder so good if they come at the expense of good taste, judgement, or kindness to fellow man. It is the gentle spirit of the people I knew, the contented attitude of that era,and the politeness that was so a part of them. Believe me the people I wrote about under anonymous above were not of the upper crust of society but their mannars were the same. They were genuine about it as it was like breathing to them. Both men and women. Being around them was like a breath of fresh air. It is not about priviliage of money but the way they conducted themselfs, their attitude. Honesty, integrity, hard working no matter what their station in life. These things are universally good and should never be allowed to die out.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I have found shows like the PBS one you mentioned very innaccurate to the time and also biased towards the moral values of the period. Sometimes such shows are designed by "progressives" who seem to think that the way people lived in the past was ignorant and that we in the present are "enlightened." I quit watching this after I began to notice the bias in it. For a more accurate insight into the Victorian period, try Linda Lichter's book, "The Benevolence of Manners." She shows how that society did not let the unruly run roughshod over those who lived in an orderly fashion. Those who were not polite were not tolerated. Today, we are expected to tolerate everything and be inconvenienced by rude people, or else be accused of being intolerant. This book showed why they lived as they did, and showed also that people had choices but if they were selfish choices, they sufferred the consequences. I don't want to get into a discussion of how great life is today and how horrible it was back then (it actually was not, and today there is much more fear for our safety and much more attack on our minds), but I wrote the article here to show the wonderful things that were passed on to us: streets and houses from that era can be found in nearly every established city. Paintings from the past are beautiful, not just a bunch of paint squirted on a canvas and called art; music, literature, clothing, arts and crafts, etc. had standards, unlike today's attitude of "if it feels right, do it."

MM said...

I found that show to be very biased also. It is not true that only the wealthy lived comfortable lives. I had great grandmothers in that period that lived comfortably. There were other people who knew their relatives of the time that do not say any such thing about "only the rich" living well. It simply cannot be verified.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

PBS historical reenactments are created by people who want the public to admire modern technology. They paint the past in a primitive light, and fail to point out that the Victorians were actually the modern inventors of the things that we enjoy today. During the Victorian period, we in the west were without the dominance of the international bankers (who charge exhorbitant interest) and it was also during that period that the culture of the west was very creative and inventive. Victorians loved modern technology and re-invented the flushing toilet. Actualy such things as running water and taking care of waste water were known about many centuries before, even during the times of the castles and knights in Europe. We are not necessarily better just because we are technologically advanced. Today there is more nervousness, mental illness, broken homes,(divorce), illnesses related to improper living, etc. than there were in Victorian times. Also there is more crime, more victims of violent crime. No matter how advanced man gets, he still has not progressed until he has progressed to living right.

MM said...

We also have diseases to day that were not prominent in Victorian times; diseases brought on by the modern refinement of our foods, and by the amounts of hybrid seed, pesticide, and the manufacturing of food. Diabetes, heart disease,obesity, and cancer are much more prevalent today, as well as STRESS related diseases. We don't get as much exercise either. Even though the Victorians invented the car, they were much more fit, and fewer fat people then.

Anna said...

My many relatives that lived in the Victorian times lived in homes that were not large at all but just enough for their number of family members. They lived as a family and homes back then did not I believe, have such things as family rooms etc. Just the basic bedrooms, a bath, kitchen, dining, front room and they did have a very small parlor. The family would thus spend time together as a family as there were not rooms where people could be alone then. Bedrooms were used for sleeping. Their home, although common for middle class or lower incomes, was beautiful. The good wood work and details like sliding pocket doors and several porches and such added to its charm. The attitude of the families added to that charm. Street apon street had such beauties. All different. They contained sturdy furniture but it never changed. It withheld being used daily and I never heard any of them complain that their things were out of date, worn out or they were tired of them. They treated their homes with tender love just like they treated their families and neighbors. Contentment and civility were the mainstays of the way they lived. I wish all of you younger people could have known many of them. I wish I could put into words a way you could understand the difference. Being at one time surrounded with such people and now none I feel the difference very accutely. But getting back to the homes. They were pretty to see and honored. They were the place your family resided and you showed your hospitality and when needed, and that seemed often, visitors could dine at a minutes notice or stay the night ..or the week. The times they lived in had its periods of rough times financially but they never let that stand in the way of paying their bills on time or being hospitable. If someone needed to stay the night the kids just doubled up and such. They knew what was important in life. You know at a glance when you come to a part of any town where their homes are still standing today...I'll bet a lot of you stop and drive slowly when you see such pretty well maintained neighborhoods. They were not cookie cutter homes. There was craftmanship and pride taken in their building. Thankyou for letting me again try to share my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

In any time you'll find happy, content people and you'll find maladjusted discontents as well. It's nice that some had such wonderful families, but it simply wasn't true of everyone, regardless of the larger social situation.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Not everyone in the Victorian period was unhappy, as the modern media seems to want to portray. Most Americans, in fact, were happier than people on other continents. They had more freedom, and were not under totalitarian dictators, they had stable families. Today, even an unstable family can affect stable families and cause trouble all around. With divorce now being as easy as driving up to a window of a fast food restaurant, families are even less stable than in the 1800's. We have more pornography today than they did, then. We have more suicide. More violent crime, more drugs (legal and illegal--all potent and harmful to the body), more pollution...if a poll were taken, more people today might say they are unhappy with these facts. Victorians as a society thought it was rude to express every peeve and every bit of unhappiness. Today, thanks to shows like Jerry Springer and even Dr. Phil, we have a society full of angst, letting it all hang out, full of despair, making everyone around them unhappy. Many people are looking back to the ways of their forbearers and the ways of the Bible, to put some sense and stability back into life, and to allow the spiritual part of them to be stronger than the physical. While Victorians were aware that what they did in life would affect their after-life, Americans today seem more focused on physical happiness. There are throngs of people who are rejecting this type of thinking, and going back to the old paths, where the good walk is, to find rest for their souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)Some of us born int he late 1940's and early 1950's actually knew people who had lived in the last days of the Victorian period, who were born in the 1850's, and though not rich, they were happy in their day.Like one of the posters here as stated, it was a pleasure to know these people although we didnt' really appreciate them enough. They loved life and didn't focus on their woes like people do today. (They thought it was rude to do so and self-centered). Though they did not have the advantages of technology, as we do, it did not affect their moods or happiness. I grew up on a homestead in the wilderness, in much the same fashion as many pioneers and Victorians, and we were not unhappy. Poverty or riches have nothing to do with happiness. Righteous living does.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your input, Lydia; I'm not sure if I'm missing the point, though. It seems to me that people who want to live a good quality of life have always found a way to do it, even nowdays. It's also made to sound like people who lived from 1950 on back were saints, when there's plenty in history, literature, and individual recollections that points to a lot of discontent when it came to women's roles and how the family functioned.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the ideal you advocate on this blog is good (it's how I actually try to structure my own life), and many people probably actually lived that way, but to say that all or most people were happy with the status quo of that time seems just as revisionist as the version of history given by radical feminists. What you get, then, are comments like the ones above by Mrs. E who is "convinced" that she was "born in the wrong time." Also, even Victorians bemoaned the state of their society, immorality, corruption, lax values, and so on, especially among the young. Ancient Greece was the model they pointed to for a virtuous society, and even the Victorians engaged in the "good old days" mentality, which would make it sound like it was not all perfection with them.

Saying that only the rich had it well at that time is, of course, a skewed view, but again, how was it for African- Americans, recent immigrants, children in sweatshops, Jews, and basically anyone who didn't fit the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant model? It really humbled me one time on a visit to a local historical museum to hear an African-American dad tell his son that if he'd been born back in slave days, that's what the son's life would be like (the dad was pointing at a collection of slave photos).

Well, this is too long already, so I just am not sure what point I'm missing here. It's not just this entry, but the overall impression the blog gives. Historians are criticized for being biased and presenting a limited view of things, but that's what I often feel happens here, just the bias is in a different direction. If that's the intention, that's fine, and maybe that's the point I'm missing, but to present everything as being great then and horrible now isn't objective.

Anonymous said...

I'm putting this separately, because my last post was too long.

I don't see how the historic recreations discussed above are so inaccurate or bad. Living now, of course we can never get the full experience of life in the past, but look at the credentials of the people who put those programs together. Even if I don't agree with their interpretation of events, I still would trust their judgement in striving for authenticity, reviewing period documents, researching, and making an honest attempt to do what years of studying and working have enabled them to do. It seems rather condescending to discount someone's expertise just because some of their views may not agree with yours.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

The Victorians were more orderly and happy that PBS in general wants moderns to think. Progressives don't want the masses to go back to Victorian ways so they make us despise them by saying everyone that wasn't rich was unhappy and that people were raped every day and that women couldn't have abortions or get divorces. (very untrue and can be historically substantiated that they had access to all the evil things that we do today). They like to portray the past as a time of opression for women and say they "couldn't work" and had to stay home. That is not true, either. Most women didn't want to leave home. So the Marxists had to lure them out by saying they were oppressed and offerring the "freedom" of working outside the home. In factk, most women on this blog who had to work will tell you it wasn't freedom at all.

This story was about the advantages of their architecture and their manners, which have about been forgotten in the modern "hanging about, letting it all hang out" society.

PBS is not the most reliable or accurate form of history. We have seen large discrepant inaccuracies on those historical shows, where they even got the hat or costume, or custom wrong. Even in movies like Pride and Prejudice, trained eyes notice things that were historically wrong...we cannot trust PBS shows to research everything, and even when they do, they like to portray the past in a bad light.

And I don't portray the 50's as being perfect but I will tell you this:

we left our doors unlocked, even our cars in parking lots. I remember once when I was little I went back to the car because my parents sent me back, and I found a car exactly like ours and opened the door and got in. The couple that found me took me back to my parents car. That happened sometimes in those days and people didn't worry about it. Compare to today!

We walked down the street at night, unaccompanied and we didnt' worry about our safety.

We travelled alone and no one hit on us.

There was no such thing as purse snatching.

Girls didn't disappear from cruise ships

Young people didn't go on drinking or drug binges and weren't found int he stree the next morning over dosed and dead

There were no disappearing children---or it was extremely rare. Everyone knew where their children were at all times. It was unheard of to have "visitation" on weekends and divorce was very rare in the mainstream. It was mainly the Hollywood actors that practiced it.

Our food was not full of nitrates

Our people were not all doped up on pharmacueticals. They only went to doctors for broken bones or near death problems, or cuts and infections.

Psychiatrists were called quacks and few people went to them and most of them laughted at their advice

Ministers and churches and Christ were not mocked like they are today


So while things were not all nice, they weren't as bad in the moral department. I've said that no matter how much technology or science advances, like Mr. Thornton said in Elizabeth Gaskells novel "North and South," "You can advance in technology but you cannot really progress until people learn to treat each other better."

This thread was supposed to be about the advantages of Victorian architecture and how the family was protected by the home, etc.

It is interesting that whenever I post something Victorian, people want to argue and object. I knew some of the Victorians and some of the people who lived in that time frame or towards the end ofit. They spoke of their own parents in glowing terms. They did not despise the Victorians like people do today, nor run them down. They thought it was rude, and it would be criticizing their own kin. We are all related to these people, who gave us so much in the way of beauty, art, poetry, stories, --it is the stuff that our greatest movies are made of...and it is wonderful to "Ask for the old paths where the good walk is" and be able to include some good things from that era in our lives.


Just wait til you are over the age of 50 and then you will see that life changes and you will see that just because it is modern, it is not all good and not all for the better. The morals of the Bible are still applicable to day.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Women were never seen walking around half dressed in bra tops and tight low cut shorts, and the Victorians knew that such dress threatened the safety of society. It would have been perceived as a lure to the less noble element of society, of which there is always plenty. Today we are in more danger than ever, and the immodesty contributes to it. YOu can to my Guard the Home blog and read various articles that show hw the family really must go back to the sensibilities of the past if they are to survive-- apast where kids didn't worry about their parents getting a divorce, or didn't have to worry about their kids getting molested or on dope.That doesn't mean we have to give up sanitation or flushing toilets, and remember the Victorians had such convenineces and even had washing machines. Soemtimes even PBS portrays that era as ignorant, but they were not!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Now concerning the comment "If you were a black person during Victorian era you would not have been happy."

First of all, Victorians were very modern, open minded people, despite the 20th century "progressives" attempt to vilify them and make them appear prudish and repressed. The Victorians hated slavery. In fact, they were able to abolish it in 1863.

What their forebearers had failed to do, they were able to do. That is how determined they were.

The Victorian period ended around 1903 but technically the effects of it conintued into the 20th century. For the last 50 or so years of her reign, she had accomplished one of the things she firmly believed in: freeing the slaves.

In fact, Victoria herself was so anti-slavery that she urged her husband Prince Albert to write a paper to read before Parliament to have slavery abolished.

It was a problem that was forced upon their generation by a previous generation and nothing had been done about it but the Victorians were interested in the souls of people and in the freedoms of mankind and they worked tirelessly for its abolition.

They didn't believe any nation could progress into a free nation completely until all people were equal.

That was more than their ancestors had done.

It wasn't you or me or our generation that did that, it was the Victorians. Today I wonder if we, so satiated with all the rich things around us, like frogs slowly boiled in water, would be capable of jumping out and correcting an injustice. Just look at the slavery and atrocities being committed in the Sudan today and the holocaust of the Tutsies (sp may be wrong)...what nation of people have been so outraged that they put a stop to this? So do not vilify the Victorian era in ignorance of this fact: they insisted that slavery be abolished.

The women of the victorian era in America abolished the sale of liquor and created "dry" counties. What women's group today would do that? We desperately need them to do the same brave thing today. Remember the Victorian lady with the tiny little hatchet? She would go into bars insist they be shut down. She and other women knew it was the root of most family problems, as men were not coming home with their paychecks.

So before you say this era is better, look at all the good these brave people did. Many authors brought out the plight of the poor through their novels and stories. And Dickens exposed the addiction of gambling in his story "The Olde Curiosity Shoppe," where he showed how one man's addiction cost him his business, his home, all that he owned, his security, and eventually the death of his little granddaughter, whom he was unable to shelter in a storm.

Until we can match this spirit, I don't think we have any cause to criticise our forefathers, the Victorians.

Before the dissenter comments further, I would like her to read Linda Lichter's well documented book, "The Benevolence of Manners." That way, you can view things fairly and with more accuracy. OUr public stations are not very accurate in the way the portray history.

MM said...

Additional reading that might be helpful in this issue

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce

and

http://www.anti-slaverysociety.addr.com/huk-1833act.htm

In the middle of the Victorian era, the Victorian historians themselves declared that they had made more progress in human rights and in standard of living than in any previous generation in the West. I suppose each generation thinks they know it all!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Also check out

http://www.answers.com/topic/victorian-morality

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce

http://www.anti-slaverysociety.addr.com/huk-1833act.htm

Anna said...

Thankyou Lady Lydia for putting the spirit of the Victorians in writing where I could not. In the comments after my last one, you (again) have put into words just how I felt about the way they were. My relatives on all sides were recent immigrants to America during that time. They did not come as wealthy people but lower working class people who worked to get here and were overjoyed and felt very privileged and blessed to be here. They never took America and all it stands for granted. They all worked straight away to learn the language and become citizens. They raised all their children to love America and to get as much schooling as poossible and work in their communities in any way possible. In so many many ways they will always be a standard to us, their family, for the way people should live their lives. They loved Christ and taught us all His ways. They were also very patriotic and took voting and all such activities very seriously. Their lack of money never stopped them from learning all they could to better themselfs or their communities and they never had a "poor me" attitude. They saved and worked and bought land and homes and became part of the America they so loved. I know every family has such stories. Mine are just so dear to me because they are mine. I do though see a difference in the world since they have all passed from my life. It started before they died of course, but I still had them as a balance. The world today is just upside down from all the standards we held high in all my growning years and before. What was at the least frowned on, not talked about, or down right not to do is now thought to be just the thing to do. What gets me is that so many people seem to think this is the Right way to live. Where do they find this written or morally right? That is another subject I won't go into but all I wanted to add is that recent immigrants could and have good Victorian ways and lives. It is not What you live through in life but How you live {conduct yourself} that counts. Hard times will always be there it is our standards, morals and how we treat one another etc etc. that sets us apart. Lady Lydia can say it better but I am sure you get the point.

O. T. said...

I've personally seen inaccuracies in the depiction of history on PBS. For example, all you have to know is the date something was invented, or the type of clothing worn in a given era, and you can spot some of these things in movies, documentaries, etc.

Anonymous said...

It has nothing to do with disagreeing with their viewpoint. Inaccuracies in their documentaries and movies have been spotted simply by knowing the date that something was invented or first used, the clothing and hairstyles of the period, and the expressions and language. Some of it is amusing when they inadvertently mix eras by putting in costumes or inventions that didn't exist til years later.

Anonymous said...

"Paintings from the past are beautiful, not just a bunch of paint squirted on a canvas and called art; music, literature, clothing, arts and crafts, etc. had standards, unlike today's attitude of "if it feels right, do it." "

I take issue with this statement. There is some modern art that isn't great, but some is WONDERFUL! I love the clean lines and simple design of a plain canvas. Picasso did some beautiful work-- and it was modern. Look at Matisse, Miro, Jose Guerrero, and others-- I find art like that to be restful to my eyes and soul. I love going to modern art museums.

There are also beautiful new peices of worship music (not faux pop music) being written by many talented modern composers (look up Timothy Hoekman). There are wonderful books being written by modern authors! There are beautiful articles of clothing being made and tailored perfectly by modern designers!

For beautiful interiors, go to a Scandinavian furniture store-- it's amazingly wonderful! I would live in one of those stores if they'd let me!

I don't think that admiration of the past should lead to such negative attitudes about the present. There is beauty in the modern world. You just have to look for it. I believe this has always been true.

I'm not trying to make a grand moral statement about today-- I'm simply responding to a lack of appreciation and respect for modern art.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I think a lot has already been written concerning the 20th century rebellion against sound judgement and good values.

I did write an article at the inception of www.ladiesagainstfeminism.org on the subject of art,on the Lady Lydia column, showing how it went from beautiful paintings of family to scribbles representing man's inner angst. The modern artists of the 20th century conspired also to intimidate the good painters and get their own art on show by hiding the good art and calling the artists snobs.

You can read more about it in an article by Fred Ross, part of which I put here: (http://www.artrenewal.org/articles/2001/ASOPA/bad_art_good_art1.asp)


"Ladies and Gentlemen ... Artists,

The art of painting, one of the greatest traditions in all of human history has been under a merciless and relentless assault for the last one hundred years.

I'm referring to the accumulated knowledge of over 2500 hundred years, spanning from Ancient Greece to the early Renaissance and through to the extraordinary pinnacles of artistic achievement seen in the High Renaissance, 17th century Dutch, and the great 19th century Academies of Europe and America.

These traditions, just when they were at their absolute zenith, at a peak of achievement, seemingly unbeatable and unstoppable, hit the twentieth century at full stride, and then ... fell off a cliff, and smashed to pieces on the rocks below.

Since World War I the contemporary visual arts as represented in Museum exhibitions, University Art Departments, and journalistic art criticism became little more than juvenile, repetitive exercises at proving to the former adult world that they could do whatever they wanted ... sadly devolving ever downwards into a distorted, contrived and contorted notion of freedom of expression. Freedom of expression? Ironically, this so-called "freedom" as embodied in Modernism, rather than a form of "expression" in truth became a form of "suppression" and "oppression."

Modernism as we know it, ultimately became the most oppressive and restrictive system of thought in all of art history.

Every reasonable shred of order and any standards with which it was possible to identify, understand and to create great paintings and sculpture, was degraded ... detested ... desecrated and eviscerated. The backbone of the painters' craft, namely drawing, was thrown into the trash along with modeling, perspective, illusion, recognizable objects or elements from the real world, and with it the ability to capture, exhibit, and poetically express subjects and themes about mankind and the human condition and about man's trials on this speck of stardust called Earth ... Earth, hurtling through infinity with all of us along on board, along with everything we know and everything we hold dear.

Reason ... philosophy ... religion ... literature ... fantasy ... dreams, and all of the feelings, emotions and pathos of our every day lives ... all of it was no longer worthy of the painter's craft. Any hint by the artist at trying to portray such things was branded as banal, maudlin, photographic, illustration, or petty sentimentality.

Our children, going supposedly to the finest universities in the world, being taught by professors with Bachelors or Arts, Masters of Arts, Masters of Fine Arts, Masters of Art Education ... even Doctoral degrees, our children instead have been subjected to methodical brain-washing and taught to deny the evidence of their own senses. Taught that Mattisse, Cézanne, and Picasso, along with their followers, were the most brilliant artists in all of history. Why? Because they weren't telling us lies like the traditional painters, of course. They weren't trying to make us believe that we were looking at scenes in reality, or at scenes from the imagination, from fantasy or from dreams. They were telling us the truth. They were telling it like it is.

They spent their lives and careers on something that was not banal, and not silly, insipid or inane. They in fact provided the world with the most ingenious of all breakthroughs in the history of artistic thought.

Even the great scientific achievements of the industrial revolution paled before their brilliant discovery. And what was that discovery for which they have been raised above Bouguereau, exalted over Gérôme, and celebrated beyond Ingres, David, Constable, Fragonard, Van Dyck, and Gainsborough or Poussin? Why in fact were they heralded to the absolute zenith ... the tiptop of human achievement ... being worthy even of placement shoulder to shoulder on pedestals right beside Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Caravaggio, Vermeer and Raphael? What did they do?

Why were they glorified practically above all others that ever went before them? Ladies and gentleman, they proved ... amazing, incredible, and fantastic as it may seem, they proved that the canvas was flat ... flat and very thin ... skinny ... indeed, not even shallow, lacking any depth or meaning whatsoever.




Paul Cézanne
Brook







Henri Matisse
Woman in Robe







Willem de Kooning
Untitled 1969




And the flatter that they proved it to be the greater they were exalted. Cézanne collapsed the landscape, Matisse flattened our homes and our families, and Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning placed it all in a blender and splattered it against the wall. They made even pancakes look fat and chunky by comparison. But this was only part of the breathtaking breakthroughs of modernism ... and their offshoots flourished. Abstract expressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, minimalism, ColorField, Conceptual, op-art, pop-art and post modernism ... and to understand it all ... to understand, took very special people indeed, since the mass of humanity was too ignorant and stupid to understand. Like that famous advertisement in the NY Times said so many years ago ... Bad art ... or Good art? You be the judge, indeed.

Of course, to justify this whole theoretical paradigm, all the artists that painted recognizable scenes with depth and illusion had to be discredited ... and discredited they were, with a virulence and vituperation so scathing and merciless that one would think they must have been messengers of the devil himself to deserve such abuse. And to put the final nail in their coffins, all of their art was banished and their names and accomplishments written right out of history. I graduated with a Master's in art education from Columbia University, and I'd never heard of Bouguereau, much less that he was President of the Academy and head of the Salon ... the most celebrated artist of his time who single handedly, using all of his influence as the most respected leader of art world, opened up L'Ecole Des Beaux Arts and the Salons to women artists for the first time in history."

Picasso was one of the artists that hated the Victorian artists and their art. He despised Christianity and hated America and claimed his paintings reflected that fact. He said the following:

There ought to be an absolute dictatorship...a dictatorship of painters...a dictatorship of one painter...to suppress all those who have betrayed us, to suppress the cheaters, to suppress the tricks, to suppress the mannerisms, to suppress charms, to suppress history, to suppress a heap of other things. But common sense always gets away with it. Above all, let's have a revolution against that! The true dictator will always be conquered by the dictatorship of common sense...and maybe not!" (Cashiers de Art, Conversation Avec Picasso, 1949)

He was a communist who hated America

"I am a communist and my painting is a communist painting. But if I were a shoemaker, Royalist or Communist or anything else, I would not necessarily hammer my shoes in any special way to show my politics." (Interview with Jerome Seckler, 1945, Picasso Explains)

I do not have his quote at the moment where he said he hated America,

but some other quotes are found here
http://www.goodart.org/picconf.htm

So while you are welcome to love Picasso "art" I choose not to admire this rebellious man.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lady Lydia,

Amen dear sister! keep on striving for the good, the beautiful, the virtuous, the uplifting and the harmonious. I too am priveledged, even in my young years, to know several ladies now in their eighties who possessed very real links with the Victorians. They speak of them with love and deep affection. I have visited many homes in this country that go back to the 1800's and early 1900's. One home in particular, though owned by folk ( missionairies with not two pennys to rub together was (and still is) simple yet beautiful. The furnishings, the architecture, even the tablewear is simple, sturdy yet lovely. Some of this lady's items of clothing are still on display and are practical, serviceable yet modest and feminine. for a 21st birthday present I was given a pair of boots made in 1905 (strictly Edwardian) though still well and truly pre wwI. they are black lace up boots with a good solid heel and not one scrap of synthetic. I have worn them often andd all they required upon first coming into my ownership were new laces and a simple re-heeling. Even in 35 degree celcious days they breathe wonderfully.

Here are a list of inventions and their dates (some are not accurate to the exact year but to the decade nonetheless).

Typewriter (first documentation of its prototype points to Italy, 1808. By the latter half of the victorian era, it was in widespread use.

Braille writer: first models documented in the 1850's; first reliable machines in use in Germany in 1885. hall Braille writer developed and marketed in 1892...a fully keyed unit allowing Braille to be read as typed (unlike UK Stainsby that would not be manufactured till around 1920 without the feature of read-as-you-type Braille(.

Photography: Early techniques go back to the 1820's.

Telegraph: 1850's

Electric Light, phonograph and telephone between 1870-1880 for all three: 1876 for phonograph, 1879 for light globe and 1876/8 for telephone.

Automobile: 1885: Electric models in use in Germany in this decade.

first record-style phonograph album to replace the wax or tinfoil cylinder: 1888.

Radio and motion picture production: both in 1895-6.

Aside from this, we have the steamtrain, steamship, sewing machine and modern fully plumbed 'indoor' toilet during these times (though folk still preferred to have their loo outside well into the 20th century).

Into the Edwardian Era now: portable vacuum cleaners similar to those we use today (previously, this was a service one would book in as the equipment was too large for each home to own one) 1907. first Courier air conditioner: 1904. First Automatic washing machine: 1907.

Oh; and back tothe vittorians: did I mention the lift (elavator for those in the US) and escalator? these were also both Victorian inventions as were the humble Bicycle and electric tram/trolly bus.

Refrigeration was invented by we Australians in the 1850's - enabled us to lead the world in the production and long-duration transport of top quality meat and dairy to the rest of the world (and yeah, I'm a proud Aussie for that one!! smile).I almost forgot Anisthesia (1840's) and the good old x-ray (in use either from 1896 or 1898). Toestler also invented the first electric motor in the 1850's - a genius encapsulating the Victorian spirit. As Lady Lydia stated, all generations have had their dark side - criminal elements etc but these made up far less a proportion of society than they do now. As for clothes, I've worn and owned authentic reproductions of Victorian dress (including foundations) and regardless of what popular television 'docutainment' will have you believe both are extremely comfortable and durable without the pain and incomberance one hears touted so often in such shows or in contemporary commentaries. Of course I'm not pointing the finger at those who wear any less than floor length skirts and such, but do we not think the pendulum has swung too far the other way, dear sisters?? Recently, upon being disgusted at the poorly made, badly taylored clothing sold as the 'norm' even for women in their 30's as am I, I'd just about given up till my husband noticed a shop sellling Annie Lantz designs (Aussie made and distributed) in a scenic town south of where we live. Stopping in, I discovered skirts and blouses that were modest, practical and lovely all at once! (I'd buy out the whole shop if I could). her work (and that of other 'Australian clothierres (sidelined to either antique row or the local agricultural show) produce similar lovely attire. if they were given a chance in the hustle bustle of the city they would provide a welcome change from the scraps we're all too often left to contend with.

As for art, i am able to proudly say the 'school of realism' as it's known (as opposed to modernist etc) is clawing its way back, alive and well. You won't see it raved about by all the fashionable art critics but its there, acting as an anchor and measure for the art of painting. Modern yet beautiful and practical furnishings are also out there if one is willing to look and perhaps save a little at first, slowly investing in pieces that will literally last a lifetime as opposed to the run-of-the-mill partical board stuff carried by most retailers. Go around second-hand shops and garage sales for some genuine beauties or for stuff to tide you over whilst saving to invest for the family home's interior. My brother and sister in law (by no means counted as rich or even 'middle class' are doing it this way. What they've done is lovely and its exciting to see their home grow and develop. their hospitality is a welcome refreshment in an ever casualised world.

Just my two cents' worth.

Mrs. E.
Australia.,

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I did write a piece for LAF about why we should reject certain art that rebels against all sound judgement and wisdom, so I will leave it at that or this will result in a rewriting of it. Suffice it to say that reading the speaches of Fred Ross at the art renewal center, one of which I posted, will enlighten you all further. He did write about one of the artists that became so reclusive that he had only one show and then retreated from the public, due to Picasso and his modern artists who rebuked him and others of his talent. The press, as liberal as they always are, even at that time, wrote scathing obitituaries about wonderful artists such as Edmund Leighton, Kilburne, Munier, Bouguereau, Hofner and hundreds of others. Theyu would say things like "They didn't have a message," or "The subjects of his art were out of place," as if they, the all wise modernists knew true art for all time. These art works were taken out of the museams and put in attics and basements where they were later auctioned off in the 20th century. Hid from the public for over 75 years (the exact time of communism in Russia), they began to surface about 10 or 15 years ago in the auction catologs. Relatives began buying them and keeping them safe. Now if you will look at the end of my page here at Home Living, you will see a sample of some of them. You have to ask why everyone in the 20th century knows who Picasso is but they never heard of Munier or Leighton or Kilburn or Johnson. It is because of a concerted effort on the part of people who were prejudiced against these artists and their paintings because of jealousy and because they wanted to force their agenda on the public and change the way of art. You have to admit it takes more talent to paint a shepherd with a sheep, or a mama with her baby, or a window scene with the mountains clearly in the distance, than it does to slap on a bit of paint and call it art. Picasso and some of the artists of his time experimented with mind altering drugs, and you can see it in their paintings. People began to hide their disgust at such "art" because of the pressure to conform and to be "tolerant" but what a terrible thing it did to the next generation and the one after that. they grew up never having seen such beauty. One man said when he finally saw some, he said it touched his heart so much he cried. He knew somehow that such art had to exist, because such beauty was evident everywhere around him. Art is imitation of life, and in a sense, it also influences life, just like literature and music and the movies do. So, in hiding such paintings, people were denied the expression of these artists which inspired them to see beauty in a Mama holding her child, or children blowing soap bubbles. (See Dans Le Bois by Elizabeth Bougeuereau, wife of William Bougeurea, who was president of the art academy ).

Why is it we went through 12 years of school and some of college, and never heard of the hundreds of artists of the Victorian era? Why is it we were told that we had to "learn" to like Picasso and "learn" to like some of these paintings? because you don't automatically understand them the way you would some of the paintings at the bottem of the page here. These paintings already touch the heart, and need no explanation and no study. They are brilliantly done by people who were careful with all aspects of their art, but people who were so persecuted for it that they went into hiding and private life. Their paintings were not seen by my parents or grandparents or even great grandparents because they were taken off display to the public. The modern artists needed to have them out of the way or no one would look at their terrible "art."

To give an example of good art/bad art (type that into your browser and see what you get--there are several sites besides Fred Ross's Art Renewal, that talk about this)

in a museam in Portland Oregon, my daughter and her family looked at a display of Winterhalter. Winterhalter painted for Queen Victoria and she was his favorite painter. He also painted other things but all beautiful and a true reflection of nature...across from this marvellous display was another artists that painted like Picasso. Everyone was crowded around Winterhalter and no one was in that other room. I think it says something: we've had enough of these childish scrawls and we want some real art and beauty that makes us love life, not despair of it.

As I said, read all of Fred Ross speeches and also get Linda Lichter
s book "The Benevolence of manners" also called "Simple Social Graces." It tells how the rebellion of the 1920's brought down art, architecture, literature, and fashion...although not everyone followed it. Media is powerful and tends to dominate but now there is a revival of the old paths where the good walk is and where we will find rest for our souls. The Bible teaches us to follow the good path and the old path and the way of what is right and good. That does not mean that new things are harmful. It just means that anything new has to glorify God and reflect the principles of life. The modern artists created ugly canvasses and sold them for millions. It is like the story of the emperors new clothes. The public had to be convinced that it was all good art and only the super intellectual coudl "understand it" but what is there to understand about a beautifully painted rose with a drop of water on it, or a cottage surrounded by a stream of water, or a man and a woman sitting in a parlor? The First Stitch is one of my favorite pieces and it tells so much about life and makes little girls want to immitate it. These paintings have an influence, for sure, but the Picassos also have an influence, and it is something that we need to be careful of. As I said, you are welcome to understand it and like it but they were people who wanted to re-define "beauty" and "order" which was not beauty and order but chaos. It was one of the biggest hoaxes of the 20th century and many people became depressed and despaired of life because of it. None of the paintings below can possibly bring on a feeling of hoplessness or boredom--they are altogether delightful.

Please go and read the speeches I suggested, and also the book I mentioned, and then feel free to post after you have done that research.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

If such paintings were posters at WalMart and the stores where young people go, they would inspire them to be motehrs and homemakers. (So is it any wonder the modernists wanted them out of the way--the ones who were determined to get rid of the family had to get rid of paintings like this, at a time when Karl Marx was telling the world how it ought to be run by the state and not the family)...instead we have posters of rock musicians that kids look up to. Their ideas and ideals will be formed somewhat by what they see. If they see posters like the ones I have at the end of this page, they may get ideas about a different life, a lovely life that brings happiness and joy.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

This sort of thing is depicted in the ancient story "The Emperor's New Clothes." That story also describes what happens when people are convinced that people are wearing beautiful fashions when they are not wearing anything at all.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

If you are speaking of true Scandanavian furniture, especially pre-20th century modernists interpretation of it, the 19th and 18th century scandanavian designs are quite lovely and have beautiful art work, particularly Gustavian and Mora.

A book that really exposes the 20th century progressives is called The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art by Roger Kimball.

One article states

A theme of shock is present in all these variations of postmodern art.
Destruction of artwork is applauded even if it is someone else's work.
The use of methodical planning and mass voluntary help towards the outcome of tremendous financial waste that ultimately results in absence.
Real-life debasement and violence are postmodern art forms.
The postmodern art community rewards expressions of suicidal tendencies for the cause of art.

you can read more about it here http://www.artrenewal.org/articles/2002/Pandoras_Box/pandora1.asp

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Mrs. Griffeth

When someone writes an article about the beauty of Victorian houses they are not obligated to tell the beauty of everything else--or to even include the modern age art, if they do not want to. I would not think of getting on to a site that proclaimed the glorious liberty of modern art and refute it by saying, "Oh but you didn't include Victorian art." You might have missed the entire point of the article about the advantages that can be used today. I did not personally write the piece about Matisse, it was Fred Ross. I pasted part of his speech that showed the mean-spiritedness of the modern artists like Picasso and those who despised the simple sweet art of home and family of the Victorian period. Mr. Ross was exposing these people who shut out the Victorian art to usher in their outrageously immature and bad art, that is all. I did not insult anyone personally but asked them to read Linda Lichter's book that researched the lives of Victoriasn people and portrayed them more accurately using their diaries, photographs, letters, inventions, books, music, and architecture and crafts to prove the point that they were happier than the media portrays them to be.Miserable people do not produce such loveliness as is evidenced by Picasso's life and works.

You may have a high place in your heart for modernists and are offended because I reject their philosphy of art.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

To all others who will misunderstand the original post: it is about enjoying the architecture, customs and art left to us by our great grandparents, the Victorians.

Anonymous said...

In answer to the one who claimed the Victorians weren't happy unless they were from a rich family, neither riches nor poverty determine a person's happiness. There are many rich people today who are not happy and cannot get their lives together---look at Hollywood and the film industry; look at the rich people of this world and tell me if they are happy and the poor are miserable--I daresay a lot of poor people are doing better with their personal lives.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Ladies I can't for the life of me figure out why I got so much dissention from a simple post about the beauty of Victorian life that was LEFT FOR US. The bad things we somehow had the sense not to keep, but the architecture and the literature and art lives on for us to enjoy! That was all it was!! How in the world you can accuse me of living in the past or saying it was all rosy, is beyond me!! The Victorians did a lot for us in modern times with their inventions and their social reform--they were the ones that made it illegal to hire children in factories, abolished slavery, invented the hospitals as we know them today and improved the fire departments. That was all I was saying, and if an obituary were done on any of you, you certainly would appreciate your family knowing of your contributions to society. It never fails when I print something about the Victorian style--whether it be a costume or a piece of lace or a tea cup or a house, somebody jumps on here, shrieking and casting dust into the air about how horrible the Victorians were and how much better off we are today. We suffer from more polution today, both in the air and in the mind, than they did, and we suffer more from blaming and whining than they did. If blaming and whining and critical accusations were fuel, we wouldn't need foreign oil. Since I've had to delete several very unladylike and rude comments, I will be taking off all comments and just leaving the article at face value. Some of you need to realize that not everything modernists tell you is well-researched. Some of you need to clean up your own lives and make them beautiful and accomplish something rather than criticise

MM said...

To those who are offended by the Victorian manners, houses, art, literature and so forth--the history in general, why not take a week off from the Victorian influences in your life. In doing so, you will have to go back to primitive times, because the follwoing things we got from from that generation:

the light bulb
sewing machine
iron
flushing toiliet and indoor plumbing
elevators
typewriters
adding machines
electric fans
refrigeration
automotive travel (cars, trucks, etc)
telegraph
telephone
doorbell
improved on street lamps and lights in the city
Washing machines

Maybe you could also reject Victorian architecture and do without anything that resembled it. You could perhaps only accept things designed by Louis Kahn. Maybe you could do without the glass design or any kind of pretty tea set or lace object--maybe you could be less miserable without the influence of Victorian things.

I remember laughing at a post that was responding to a girl who years ago wrote on this blog that Victorians were horrible people who were ignorant with no education and who had no running water. She apparently didn't do her research, because they had running water and they had pumps and wells and many ways to access water. Someone else refuted her claims by saying something like this, and it still gives me a laugh today:

Yes, Miss Clare, you are right. 19th century people were the most ignorant barbarians. They didn't have water so they were dirty. They didn't use toilets so they just went in the streets, and they all died of disease and they were lying dead in the streets. No babies were born because they all died in childbirth and the ones that lived had no mothers because they died bearing children. No hospitals and no medicine so the men died too. And there were no grocery stores so everyone starved. Not only that they were really ignorant and no one could read and write and women weren't allowed to learn anything so they didn't write letters, books, or anything. Everyone was stupid, sic, or dead. How they built the Victorian houses I do not know, because they were too ignorant to understand architecture and besides they were primitive people with no water and they never took a bath. So maybe aliens built the Victorian houses.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...