Friday, October 19, 2007

Female artists, children's books, sextiles & semis

Female artists in general were thin on the ground in the 19th/early 20th century, but it isn't surprising that women would excel in the specialised genre of illustrating children, or for children - it's in their blood. The ability to visualise a children's world, what pleases them - whimsy and gentle fantasy, are likely to be stock-in-trade. There were male illustrators too, of course, but in this genre the ladies managed to find a more level playingfield. In their era, this kind of art would have presented a more proper pursuit for the lady with artistic talent who didn't wish to damage her reputation by joining those naughty bohemians, living it up(or down)in Paris.

The five female artists whose work I decided to look at were all born in the latter part of the 19th century. Their best work was in illustrating famous books for children, such as 'Alice in Wonderland', 'The Water Babies', 'The Pied Piper'. There were also, of course, the chubby cheeked kids,the pretty fairies and the constant tweeness - pleasant enough in small doses. For passing readers not familiar with the term "twee", in Britain it's used to describe anything excessively cute, dainty, delicate, whimsical, or kind of ultra- homely. I've noticed, by the way, that in the USA tweeness is quite popular.

Examples, below, of the styles of the 5 featured artists: top right Mabel Lucy Attwell.Top left: Bessie Pease Gutmann

Cicely Mary Barker

Jessie Wilcox Smith

I've featured three English artists and two from the USA.

Mabel Lucy Attwell born in London, England 4 June 1879

Cicely Mary Barker born in London, 28 June 1895

Kate Greenaway born in London 17 March 1846

Bessie Pease Gutmann born in Philadelphia PA, USA 8 April 1876

Jessie Wilcox Smith born in Philadelphia PA on 6 September 1863
(The small illustration at the beginning of this entry is by her.)

I compared the five 12 noon charts, concentrating only on positions of Venus (art), Neptune(imagination), Mercury(communication)and Jupiter(publishing), looking for any similarities.

There's a goodly amount of Taurus and/or Cancer showing - this seems appropriate to the subject matter - Cancer ruled by Moon and representing mothers, nurturing, etc. Taurus ruled by Venus - love, earthy, beauty - (and probably tweeness!)

The sextile and semi-sextile came up a lot. describes these aspects thus:

Sextile -a soft energy is generally ascribed to this aspect. Sextiles are about the easy and unencumbered flow of energy between two planets. There is a lack of tension inherent in this aspect which translates to the ability of the individual to accomplish much. Attraction is present, and self-expression is enhanced.

Semi-sextile - this Aspect is not quite as harmonious in tone as a sextile. Further, there tends to be a fated quality to this Aspect. Semi-sextiles tend to create minor tension..... unease is the result, and a sense that something should be done (or that if it were done, all would be better). This Aspect also has a karmic tie. When two planets are semi-sextiling each other, we need to know that there is a lesson (albeit a small one) to be dealt with and effectively overcome. This lesson may well come to us from our past. Lastly, with this Aspect, there is always that karmic connection. Something is out there, and while we're not quite sure what it is, we just can't seem to break away from it. Is this yet another lesson from the semi-sextile?

Sextiles between relevant planets in these charts link well to the art we're considering. Interesting that the sextile is described as "soft energy" - that does seem particularly appropriate. I'm not sure about the semi-sextiles - karmic connections? Could be! Anyway, here are the similarities:

- Venus on South Node(sensitive point in chart) sextile Mercury. Neptune sextile Jupiter

Barker - Venus and Neptune in sextile, Jupiter semi-sextile both planets. Mercury semi-sextile both Pluto and Mars

Greenaway - Venus sextile Jupiter, semi-sextile Mercury. Neptune/Saturn conjunction semi- sextile Sun

Gutmann - Venus sextile Mercury with Neptune semi-sextile both those planets. Jupiter opposes Venus, trines Mercury.

Smith - Libran stellium of Mercury, Venus and Saturn opposed by Neptune in Aries. Venus semi-sextile Sun. Jupiter also in Libra trines Uranus, semi-sextiles Mars.

More of the work of each of these artists can be explored via Google Image.

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