Thursday, October 16, 2014

Madeline after Prayer

Madeline after Prayer An accomplished painter of history and drama, Maclise came close to the Pre-Raphaelites late in his career, when he painted Madeline after Prayer (1868; Guildhall Art Gallery, London), inspired by John Keats’s The Eve of St. Agnes. Madeline is preparing for bed, hoping to dream of a future husband. Blanchard’s etching contrasts the maiden’s moonlit beauty with the deeply shadowed room. The poem tells us that she is watched by a hidden suitor: Porphyro grew faint: She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint. Anon, his heart revives: her vespers done, Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees; Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one; Loosens her fragrant bodice; by degrees Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees. . . . The detailed setting and our proximity to the main figure distinguish the conception from John Everett Millais’s 1863 version of the subject.