Charity shop books

Last weekend the kids and I popped down to Bristol Museum, there is a Oxfam bookshop near by that we like to browse after our museum trips. So whilst Tom searched for war hammer I headed to the Art section. My first discovery was a book about Mary Ellen Best (1809-91) a British artist I have not heard of, I’m always excited to find female artists as there was so little information on this subject when I was at art college. Largely because artist like Mary Ellen were not taken very seriously in her lifetime or subsequently, watercolours were an acceptable and gentile activity for middle and upper class women but there was little opportunity for more serious artistic pursuits.

Still I find the interiors and clothes fascinating and I am working on a series of small clay figures inspired by the images of Victorian children in this book. I’ll post pictures soon.

This painting in particular resonates with me, an artist and mother working in her domestic environment, the mug of coffee or tea is a familiar accompaniment.

The pictures above depict a childhood game where you dress the woman in different costumes, I love the images with blank faces, fascinating!

Above is an example of the wonderful clothes on this 15-year-old girl, I love all the folds on her dress and the striped apron.

There are also lots of interiors and exteriors of market places and european buildings (she travelled a lot)

The second book I found was Fierce Friends, artists and animals 1750-1900. Full of great images of all kinds of art depicting all creatures great and small.

beautiful dissection of a frog. Louis-Thomas-Jerome Auzoux 1797-1880

Above a painting by the Quaker minister Edward Hicks 1780-1849

Above is a painting of Isaac Van Amburgh by Edwin Landseer, Van Amburgh was apparently the first man to put his head between a lion’s jaws as part of his animal tamer act.

And some extraordinary images of nineteenth century Palissy, completely over the top ceramics, amazing!

And finally a tribute to the British Artist Lucian Freud who has died aged 88. I love his early work and admire his later work. Somehow in all the house moving I’ve lost my Freud book but I’ll have a look through my other art books for an image to post here.



4 thoughts on “Charity shop books

  1. Concuerdo contigo en la sorpresa y fascinación por el descubrimiento de mujeres artistas… el libro con el mundo de Mary Ellen se ve muy atractivo, y las imágenes que muestras, ¡preciosas!. Realmente la acuarela es un medio que se aviene muy bien con lo doméstico, justamente por eso mismo es que me gusta, la posibilidad de expresarse en un pequeño espacio, con pocos materiales… y agua!…. es difícil para una artista ¡aun hoy! conciliar su desarrollo creativo con la vida familiar… por eso mismo admiro muchísimo tu trabajo, que tiene todo el valor del arte, y todo el valor de ser realizado a pesar de los problemas domésticos! Un abrazo!!!

    1. Hi Alice, and Thank you for all your lovely comments, it’s so encouraging to have such positive feedback, especially when working home alone!
      all the best Jess

  2. Hello Jess
    Great finds in Oxfam, thank you for sharing the pictures. I especially like the frog – such clear, glistening images. I like the artfully arranged dots of blood(?) that balance the picture, it reminds me of a plate of nouvelle cuisine food. (Thinking about it, it probably could be a plate of nouvelle cuisine food…).
    I can imagine you working the striped apron into an outfit somehow, a rich brown dress/top and a stripy apron.
    Hope you’re enjoying the job – money and company. Good.
    Bests d

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