Victoria and Albert loved the work of Sir Walter Scott, so this painting of The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) is a suitable choice for our week of love and 1862.
Scott’s novels were a very popular source of subject matter for British artists and designers during the first half of the nineteenth-century. The Bride of Lammermoor tells the story of a tragic love affair set in Scotland: Lucy, our doomed romantic heroine falls in love and becomes secretly engaged to the Master of Ravenswood – but she is the daughter of his late father’s biggest enemy, Sir William Ashton. This painting depicts a scene from chapter 20, where the young couple pledge their troth, and create a golden love token that each will wear until they can be together. Of course, it doesn’t end well…
This painting, also by Frith, depicts a later scene from the book in chapter 33, where the engagement is annulled and the gold token returned. The painting was first exhibited at the RA in 1854, but was included in the British paintings gallery at 1862. Poor Lucy was duped and forced to marry another, whom she stabs, promptly falls insane and then dies. Her true love also dies, falling into quicksand on his way to a duel with her brother!
We hope 2014 doesn’t hold such romantic woes for you.
© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2014