The Résistante and the Collaborationist: an odd connection in the Liberation Collection

An interesting collection indeed.

Riffaud and Liquois, two destinies with seemingly nothing in common, apart from the War and a little booklet from Jeunesse Héroïque (Portrait of Riffaud by Picasso from “Le poing fermé”, Liquois image from under Creative Commons)

As discussed in an earlier blogpost, showcasing the beautiful and entertaining Belgian children’s collection Les Alliés, a surprisingly large proportion of the Liberation Collection is made up of thin pamphlets aimed at young people. They were published in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War in France and Belgium.

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Painting in the Rain 2: 1890-2006

Some great images here.

The Eclectic Light Company

In the first article of this series, I showed how reluctant European and American painters were to depict rainfall as oblique streaks down an image. There was no such reluctance among Japanese print makers like Utagawa Hiroshige, though.

Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) (1797–1858), Evening Shower at Nihonbashi Bridge (Edo, 1830-4), woodblock print, 26.2 × 38.7 cm, Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY. Wikimedia Commons. Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) (1797–1858), Evening Shower at Nihonbashi Bridge (Edo, 1830-4), woodblock print, 26.2 × 38.7 cm, Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY. Wikimedia Commons.

These two woodblock prints by Hiroshige show how effective liberal use of rain streaks can be.

Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) (1797–1858), Evening Rain at Azumi-no Mori (吾嬬杜夜雨) (Edo, 1837-8), woodblock print. Wikimedia Commons. Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) (1797–1858), Evening Rain at Azumi-no Mori (吾嬬杜夜雨) (Edo, 1837-8), woodblock print. Wikimedia Commons.

Among the European painters who saw and were inspired by Hiroshige’s Evening Rain at Azumi-no Mori was Vincent van Gogh.

vangoghrainauvers Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Rain – Auvers (1890), oil on canvas, 50.3 x 100.2 cm, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Wales. Wikimedia Commons.

Painted just a few days before his death, van Gogh’s Rain – Auvers

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Florem effleure un genre, une époque

Jolie Mome est absolument merveilleuse. Merci!

Un article particulier, pour une chanson particulière.

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Poetry Uncategorized

J’suis snob (Boris Vian) – Tatiana Eva-Marie

Baudelaire was interested in the concept of “The Dandy” as a correction to and standing above the faults of democracy. Leaving aside, for a moment, the differences between dandies and snobs, this song sounds rather cuckoo and is definitely not meant to be taken seriously. It is also curiously sweet and mignon.

The lyrics in French and with English translation are at


Line(s) of the Day #YesMinister (RIP Derek Fawlds)

Such a great programme and sad news of Fawld’s passing.

Alex Raphael

Derek FawldsBernard Woolley: “I’ll just say, ‘The Minister has asked me to thank you for your letter’ and something like ‘The matter is under consideration’, or even ‘under active consideration’.”
Jim Hacker: “What’s the difference?”
Bernard Woolley: “Well, ‘under consideration’ means we’ve lost the file, ‘under active consideration’ means we’re trying to find it.”

Jim Hacker: I’d like a new chair. I hate swivel chairs.
Bernard Woolley: It used to be said there were two kinds of chairs to go with two kinds of Minister: one sort folds up instantly; the other sort goes round and round in circles.

Bernard Woolley: Well, take the Foreign Office. First you get the CMG, then the KCMG, then the GCMG; the Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, Knight Commander of St Michael and St George, Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George. Of course, in the Service…

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Literature Poetry Uncategorized

Elizabeth Jennings’s Poem – Answers

I kept my answers small and kept them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bulwark to my fear.

The huge abstractions I kept from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.

But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.

Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, still I hear:
Big answers striving for their overthrow

And all the great conclusions coming near.

Jennings was a devout Catholic and it seems that religious themes are present in her work and in this poem in particular.


German Expressionism: taking inspiration from Leicester

Fascinating stuff! There always seems more to discover on this topic including Polish and Scandinavian artists drawn into the ambit of German art in this fertile period.

Expressionism in Germany is particularly associated with two major groups which emerged before World War One: Der Blaue Reiter in Munich and Die Brücke in Dresden, artistic communities which reacted against the bourgeois culture and wanted to change art and society. For those interested in seeing German Expressionist works now, obvious destinations are the Lenbachhaus in Munich or the Brücke Museum in Berlin. But closer to home, Leicester has a large collection of German Expressionist works which grew out of an exhibition of “Mid-European art” held there in February 1944. The exhibition was instigated by the then director of Leicester museums, Trevor Thomas (his is a fascinating life story – dismissed from his role in Leicester after the war following a court appearance for public indecency at a time when homosexuality was illegal, the last person to see Sylvia Plath alive…) and featured works belonging to a German emigré collector…

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#Non-Fiction The Churchill Factor

Thanks for this Nancy.It saves me from having to read it. Have you read Michael Todd’s great novels about Churchill? Andrew Roberts writes well too- his book on Salisbury was very enjoyable.


Genre: non-fiction
Rating: A+++++


  1. I started this book before the UK’s general election.
  2. It is fascinating to see how Boris Johnson
  3. emulates his hero, Churchill!
  4. Winston Churchill tipped the scales of destiny in 1940.
  5. We should all be thankful for his courage, pluck and
  6. famous message June 1940 to the British people:

“We shall go on to the end.
We shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air,
we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender…”

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Colette – Claudine at School

Lady Fancifull

Wicked, vicious and enchanting – girl power in France, circa 1900

Claudine at SchoolA major effect of my sequential twentieth century challenge is that reading in this way will inevitably take me outside the book itself as an isolated reading experience, and focus some attention on the time, culture and geography of its arising – and, I suspect, I shall happily be drawn into ‘biographical fallacy’ as there is always a life being lived (the author’s) in that time, culture and geography. And sat within the twenty-first century, it will no doubt be interesting to see how much we consider to be modern and new is of course, merely a spiral: specific manifestations may change, but the form remains the same

So, turning to Colette’s first novel, Claudine at School, the story of a racy minx of a fifteen year old in a perhaps unusual school in Burgundy, which was published in…

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Ink and watercolour


Bell tower of the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Trapani

This sketch was one of over 50 paintings that I completed last month while in Erice, Sicily. I have just arrived home after a two-day journey from Erice, via Palermo, Rome and Lisbon (overnight in Lisbon as is my normal practice), and have not done any painting since just before Christmas.

I will need a couple of days to get settled before setting up my easel, paints and brushes but I do have a long list of subjects to keep me occupied for the foreseeable future including a couple of commissioned paintings. These do not have short deadlines so I can plan to my own agenda.

The first thing for me to do is journal work to get my coordination and mixing skills back up to speed. I prefer to paint every day, even just a simple sketch is enough…

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