Sentimental prints: The Sailor’s Farewell by George Morland (c.1790), The Sailor’s Return by Thomas Stothard (1798), Conjugal Affection by Robert Smirke (1799), Reading the Will by Robert Wilkie (1819) and the Cries of London by Francis Wheatley (1792-95) in Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys.
[Anna, missing her native West Indies and ill-treated by men, is loosing her foothold in the world and drifting into a more and more makeshift way of life.Like many of Rhys’s heroes, her days are made up of streets, bars and rooms in boarding houses and hotels and many of these rooms have sentimental prints on the wall.]
[Her caddish lover has taken her to the country]
There were stags’ heads stuck up all over the dining-room of the hotel. the one over our table was as big as a cow’s. Its enormous glass eyes stared past us. In the bedroom there were prints - ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’, ‘The Sailor’s Return’, ‘Reading the Will’ and ‘Conjugal Affection’. They had a calm sleepy look, as if they were drawing of stuffed figures - the women very tall and plump and smiling and tidy and the men with long legs and bushy whiskers; but the placid shapes of the trees made you feel that that time have been a good time.
[Here she describes Ethel’s dining-room, Ethel runs a massage and manicure business which appears to operate as a knocking shop, Anna boards with her for a while and works as a manicurist.]
There were the Cries of London in the dining-room. I remember the way they hung, and the bowl of water in front of the gas-fire, and always a plate of oranges in the middle of the table, and two armchairs with chintz cushions - a different pattern from the chintz in the sitting-rooms - and Ethel talking about how respectable she was.
[Later she stays with her friend Laurie, a sex worker.]
The flat was full of furniture and pink curtains and cushions and mats with fringes. very swanky, as Maudie would say. And the Cries of London turned up too, but here in the bedroom.
[The Sailor’s Farewell is taken from
The Sailor’s Return from
and Reading the Will from
The Cries of London image is A New Love Song, only Ha’pence a Piece and is taken from
where more from the set can be seen. In addition, Anna twice mentions a picture of a begging dog call Loyal Heart which I haven’t been able to identify]
Jean Rhys is also quoted mentioning the Burghers of Calais
and a nude by Modigliani
Grimes DJ Set @ Los Globos,
Los Angeles, California. August 24 2014.
Photo by Michael Melwani