Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Post: Gillian Bagwell, Author of The September Queen

Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post by Gillian Bagwell, the talented author of two captivating historical fiction novels, The Darling Strumpet and The September Queen. Thank you, Gillian, for honoring The Muse in the Fog Book Review with your presence, it's a pleasure to have you!

Portrait Miniatures by Gillian Bagwell:

-Charles I by Petitor - Charles II later by Cooper - miniature back of frame

A lost art from centuries past is the painting of portrait miniatures.  With no photos or phones, having a portable portrait was one way to feel connected to an absent loved one.  Lovers might present miniatures to each other. 

Anne of Cleves by Holbein
Sometimes miniature portraits had a political use.  If a monarch shopping for a bride couldn’t meet the lady in person, he could send an artist to paint her portrait. When Henry VIII was scouting for a fourth wife, he sent Hans Holbein to paint various candidates, and ended up choosing Anne of Cleves partly on the basis of her portrait. He was mightily disappointed that she didn’t live up to it, and was so put off by her appearance that he though he felt forced to go through with the marriage, he could not bring himself to consummate it, and divorced her only six months later.  Holbein was r noted for his lifelike representations, but it seems that he must have flattered poor Anne, with disastrous results.

Minette by Cooper
Samuel Cooper was a seventeenth century artist who specialized in miniatures, and he painted several members of the royal family, giving us likenesses of many of the Stuarts, including some from the years after the execution of Charles I and before the Restoration of Charles II.  It’s interesting to see the striking difference between his painting of Charles II as a very young man, while in exile, and one many years later.  Had the cares of the monarchy aged him so severely?  Or had Cooper flattered the younger Charles?  Cooper also provided the likeness of Charles that was used on new coins in 1662.

The diarist Samuel Pepys knew Cooper, and said was an excellent musician, playing the lute and speaking French well.  He paid Cooper £30 to paint a miniature of his wife Elisabeth in 1668.  Elisabeth’s father Alexandre de St. Michel was French – perhaps they conversed in French while he painted her.

Another painter of miniatures, Mary Beale, recorded Cooper’s death on May 5, 1672 in her journal, calling him “the most famous limner of the world for a face.”

Photo by: Brendan Elms

Gillian Bagwell’s novel The September Queen, the first fictional accounting of the story of Jane Lane, an ordinary English girl who helped Charles II escape after the Battle of Worcester, was released on November 1.  Her first novel, The Darling Strumpet, tells the story of Nell Gwynn, seventeenth century actress and mistress to Charles II.  Please visit her website, www.gillianbagwell.com, to read more about her books and read her blog Jane Lane and the Royal Miracle www.theroyalmiracle.blogspot.com, which recounts her research adventures and the daily episodes in Charles’s flight.


Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Charles II is running for his life-and into the arms of a woman who will risk all for king and country. 
Jane Lane is of marrying age, but she longs for adventure. She has pushed every potential suitor away-even those who could provide everything for her. Then one day, adventure makes its way to her doorstep, and with it comes mortal danger... 
Royalists fighting to restore the crown to King Charles II implore Jane to help. Jane must transport him to safety, disguised as a manservant. As she places herself in harm's way, she finds herself falling in love with the gallant young Charles. And despite his reputation as a breaker of hearts, Jane finds herself surrendering to a passion that will change her life forever."

My review of The September Queen!

Copyright © 2011 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.


Unknown said...

I recently won a copy of The September Queen and can't wait to read you're review.

I would love to see miniatures brought back to life. This was a great post to actually be able to see what miniatures looked like!

Anonymous said...

Very often too, a monarch would give a miniature of him or herself as a token of favour. (So somewhere, there had to have been a small cottage industry reproducing the miniatures--on vellum or perhaps on ivory--of the Stuart kings.)

More personal miniatures, such as those one had painted for a loved one, had a lock of hair woven into the back casing.

And as the art evolved and became more popular and more accessible, one finds the miniature paintings being mounted in all sorts of ways--on rings, as brooches, worn as necklaces, on belts...so one would have a constant reminder of the beloved.

Grace Elliot said...

'Darling Strumpet' was recently recommended to me and I have downloaded it. It's always good to know there is another book ready and waiting.
Grace x