VENUS, & COMPANY,
on LIFE! HEARTS & LAUGHTER
"So Christmas - if it’s anything at all…
in the human heart
we all share -
(From 'The Christmas Song', Greg Brown, American Singer-Songwriter)
Have you ever considered
just how many celebrations and holidays we have surrounding
"hearts"… and "life"!
It started with the ancients - celebrating life, seasons - and, of course, food!
Thousands of years have shown only minor variances.
Here (today - in America)…
January begins with newness…the year, and new life, the Epiphany.
It continues with St. Valentines…about the romance of the heart.
The next being Passover and Easter…about preserving life, its death and resurrection.
Then May and June reserving the places in our hearts for Mothers and Fathers;
And the love of our country in July.
Labor Day follows…hopefully you love your work! Then it is not 'work'.
October is Halloween…honoring the love for the departed - and candy!
Thanksgiving…thankfulness for all we love -
(and without doubt the love of food!)
Then comes the December Christmas celebration…
about a different kind of love :
A celebration embracing 'Humankind' ...'Life'…
people - known and unknown, principles, traditions, our place in history…
even reckoning with the mind-boggling universe and existence of our planet :
Mr. Idle, Mr. Jones :
"The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth."
… and quite hopefully …
The goddess Venus has, since Roman times, been associated with
the more 'lyrical' aspects of life -
love, hearts and beauty.
Above is an early 15th century illumination of Venus,
receiving human hearts for safekeeping -
and the perception and creation of love - and of beauty.
She and her attending cherubs have inspired
centuries of passions in artists, poets, musicians - and lovers.
Countless times, Venus has been honored in all the arts -
usually with great sensuality.
Below is an extremely alluring and extraordinarily well painted example (yes, for sale) :
'Venus Surrounded by Cherubs'
Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Pena (French 1808-1876) (Attr.)
Oil on Panel over Pencil
Signed Lower Center N. Diaz and dated 54
Exhibition of the French Masters, 1951, No. 18; Marlborough Fine Art, London
The Greek island of Cythera, was thought to be the birthplace of - and sacred to - Venus,
and where everyone is supposed meet his or her most ideal partner -
although it is noted that most departed with a different partner than entering!
Their winged guide to the island was Venus’ offspring & best ally - Cupid.
"Les Pelerins De L'Isle De Cythere", c1745
Early Qianlong Chinese Export Encre de Chine Plate
European market, after an engraving celebrating "Love",
by Bernard Picart (1673-1733),
painted in grisaille, gilt and iron red, the central roundel depicting
a heart-decorated 'Cupid' with flaming torch
guiding a 'pilgrim' couple to travel by boat to the Isle of Cythera,
En route, they share great hopes - along with a jug of wine.
However...VENUS was also said to be quite 'LAUGHTER-LOVING'!
C. S. Lewis once wrote that it is never wise to be 'totally serious about Venus'.
In fact, some of the greatest humorists have been quite loyal devotees to the Goddess.
Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python) not only chose as their BBC logo
the foot of Cupid from Bronzino's 'Allegory of Venus and Cupid'...
...but when asked whether 'Venus' (Botticelli's) represents 'the ultimate male fantasy',
Gilliam immediately replied :
'Oh, why not? You can’t do better than that!'
Since 1969, the singular 'Monty Python' group has espoused copious 'divergent points of view'.
For your 'edification' - and Yuletide Laughter - a few of their unforgettable
(printable) concepts regarding selected topics - and 'Life!' - will be forthwith interspersed...
...in orange (well, the last and maybe the best one in red)...
...and beginning with...
ATTAINING WISDOM :
'Life has a very simple plot.
First you’re here, and then you’re not.'
Charles II Biblical Stumpwork & Needlework on Silk
Housed in a Baroque Carved Wooden Frame with Early Glass
England, c17th Century
The Queen of Sheba kneels before a crowned King Solomon.
Solomon was reputed to be the wisest man in the known world.
It is said that the Queen traveled for 6 months across the hot desert, with her retinue and laden
with spices and gifts, all to test the wise Solomon with 'hard questions'.
Solomon, in is wisdom, answered them to her satisfaction -- and she went back home.
(First Kings 10, and Chronicles 9)
'Mrs Hendy : Oh! I never knew that Schopenhauer was a philosopher!
Mr Hendy : Oh, yeah! He's the one that begins with an S, like Nietzsche.
Mrs Hendy : Does Nietzsche begin with an S?
Mr Hendy : There's an S in Nietzsche.
Mrs Hendy : Oh, wow! Yes there is. Do all philosophers have an S in them?
Mr Hendy : Yeah, I think most of them do.
Mrs Hendy : Oh. Does that mean Salena Jones is a philosopher?
Mr Hendy : Right, she could be.
She sings about 'the meaning of life'.'
On BENEVOLENCE and SHARING :
In typical fatherly fashion, King of Swamp Castle
(pointing to the window and expounding on his son’s eventual inheritance)
repeated the familiar phrase : 'One day, son, all this will be yours'.
Large Manganese & Yellow Lobed Dutch Charger
In manganese and yellow edged in bright blue,
depicting Chinese figures in a landscape before a stream
bordered by draped 'curtains', panels of flora and further figures - and more 'curtains';
the verso with manganese X's and O's - obviously a nod to Venus
REGARDING NUTS… & ORNITHOLOGY :
'King Arthur : …We have ridden the length and breadth of the land in search of knights
who will join me in my court at Camelot.
Guard : What? Ridden on a horse?
King Arthur : Yes!
Guard : You're using coconuts!
King Arthur : What?
Guard : You've got two empty halves of coconut and you're bangin' 'em together'
George III Silver-Mounted Coconut Drinking Goblet
Josiah Snatt, London, 1813
An elegant silver-mounted coconut drinking cup,
the rim crested with a lion rampant; the scalloped silver base-mount
descending to a graceful silver pedestal stem and circular reeded foot
'Guard : Where'd you get the coconuts?
King Arthur : We found them.
Guard : Found them? In Mercia?! The coconut's tropical!'
18th Century British Silver-Mounted Coconut Cup
raised - symbolically - on three shell-headed
the shaped silver rim crested with a wild boar -
and a rather large bird
(see below) -
(crests for the families of Lee
'King Arthur : The swallow may fly
south with the sun or the house martin or the plover
may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?
Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?
King Arthur :
Not at all. They could be carried.
What? A swallow carrying a coconut
King Arthur :
It could grip it by the
A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
Guard 2 :
It could be carried by an African swallow!
Guard 1 :
Oh yeah. An African
swallow, maybe -- but not a European swallow, that's my point.'
First Period Worcester Oval Moulded & Fluted Jabberwocky Pattern Dish
Painted with a fanciful large 'dragon-like bird',
so re-named after Lewis Carroll’s famous 'Jabberwock' - remember 'Alice'?)
the wide oval dish having a barbed rim & centering perchance...
a tropical COCONUT?
On 'ARISTOCRATIC' HERITAGE :
'French : Your motha was a hamster and your fatha smelled of hoozenberries!!!'
Chelsea Brown Anchor 'Hans Sloane' Plate
The shaped dish having a
brown line rim centering boldly painted
leaves and fruits
among the particular insects who would have fertilized them
Brown Anchor Mark
'King Arthur :
I am your king.
Well, I didn't vote for
King Arthur :
You don't vote for
Well how'd you become
King Arthur :
The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite,
held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying
by 'Divine Providence'
that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.'
( 'Divine Providence'...Oops!...)
I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an emperor just because some
moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!'
A George III Cut & Engraved Sugar Loaf Decanter, c1770
A George III Engraved Opaque Twist Stem Wine. c1765
The decanter engraved with two single stems, each issuing
two polished 6-petaled roses, a single bud, and a 4-petaled rose
each of the two stems with a closed bud and an opening four-petal buds,
The glass engraved with a partially open 6-petaled rose in profile
and closed bud on a stem with 6 leaves
('Oops!' : 'Divine Providence'
and 'Godly appointment'
was more or less the 'way of the world' for
rulers, from Biblical
...until the 17th century, when all changed.
for British monarchs
was challenged and put to an end.
The very last to defend British 'Divine Right' was the grandson of James II,
'Bonnie Prince Charlie' & his Jacobite followers.
Their struggle to restore the 'Divine Right' of Stuart kings met with final defeat
at Culloden, Scotland (1746). The Prince's efforts have become legendary -
and are oft celebrated - even to this day - and with use - of
'The First Man to Jump the English Channel' :
Ron, now let's just get this quite clear
- you're intending to jump across the English Channel?
Ron Obvious :
Oh yes, that is correct, yes.
And, er, just how far is that?
Ron Obvious :
Oh, well it's 26 miles from here to Calais.
And that's to the beach of Calais?
Ron Obvious :
Well, no, no, provided I get a good lift off and maybe a gust of breeze over the French coast,
I shall be jumping into the centre of Calais itself.'
Costa Scena : A Cruise Along the Southern Coast of Kent
A Cased Strip Panorama
"Dedicated to His Most Gracious Majesty George IV"
The Scenes Taken from Nature By Robert Havell Jr., Published London, 1823,
foot long aquatint depicting (from moving viewpoints) the departure of George IV
on his momentous State
visit to Scotland, 23 August 1822.
The scroll ends with
gusty breezes and stormy seas,
encountered by Havell's ship -
just outside Calais.
'And In Seeking The Grail' :
'Head Knight :
The Knights Who Say Ni demand a sacrifice!
King Arthur : Knights of Ni, we are but simple travelers who seek the enchanter who lives
beyond these woods--
Knights who say Ni :
NI! NI! NI! NI!
King Arthur :
Head Knight :
shall say "Ni" again to you, if you do not appease us.
King Arthur :
what do you want?
Head Knight :
want... a shrubbery!!'
Diminutive Yongzheng Blue & White Moulded Teapot
With a very nice shrubbery.... blooming!
The teapot lobed, in the form a closed lotus
- a lovely extra bonus!
and having rare applied and
outset scrollwork on the teapot base
THE WEATHER :
Then a cold year passed (whilst on their search to find the enchanter - and the grail).
Apparently the other seasons got mixed up
and all the seasons kept changing back into winter at the wrong time...
until one day...
Evangelista Torricelli moved to Florence & constructed a 35 foot high barometer
that rose to the roof of his house, with
a wooden mannequin atop (shown below),
bobbing up and down, making people think he was practicing witchcraft -
- when all he really wanted was to get the weather right :
Good George III Inlaid Mahogany Straight Tube (Stick) Barometer
Signed J. Hilliard, the silvered register with vernier sliding scale behind hinged glazed door,
the mercury thermometer also behind a further hinged glazed trunk door,
the entire case edged in intricate inlaid checker-banding.
(As in today's agrarian economies,
predicting weather changes was vital to landowners of 18th century England.)
Knights of the 'Round' Table,
We dance whene'er we're able.
We do routines and chorus scenes
With footwork impec-cable,
We dine well here in Camelot,
We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot
...And push the pram a lot.'
Good George II / III Mahogany Kettle (Wine) Stand
Of well figured timbers retaining the original surfaces,
the octagonal top with original gallery
above a tapering and ring-turned standard with urn knop.
Small tripod tables in original state, with original surfaces and without damage
- much less with an
original gallery -
are increasingly difficult to find.
These stands fill all
manner of functions - not just holding kettles and wine!
Well, that's the end of
Now, here's 'the meaning of life'.
(She is handed a gold-wrapped booklet)
Lady Presenter :
Thank you, Brigitte.
clears her throat, then unwraps and examines the gilt booklet)
Lady Presenter :
Well, it's nothing very
'Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat,
read a good book every now and then, get some walking in,
and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations...'
(......and some script
much better left out......)
Oh, well, there we are. Here's the theme music...
And A VERY 'MERRIMENT' CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
A crowned Venus rides across the heavens riding an antlered stag,
carrying an arrow and a hawk, a star (the planet Venus) in the upper right.
Venus is portrayed in a number of ways - one being riding a stag in white clothing, with hair flowing,
with an apple and a mirror. No commentary could be found as to the meaning of Venus with the Stag.
However the Stag has long been a symbol of protection and sexuality.
They are extremely devoted to the care, and creation, of children.
The deer or stag is, as well, an ancient symbol of the winter solstice and Christmas itself.
With Special Thanks To :
Greg Brown : "Christmas Song" (by special permission)
"Dream City, Essential Recordings Vol. 2", released 2009 ©
RGR Collection / Alamy : Eric Idle; Eric in a pink morning suit, singing various statistics about the galaxy
to Mrs. Brown (Terry Jones); "Monty Python's Meaning of Life", Alamy Stock Photo ©
The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford : Dancers, Romance of Alexander,
(lower border from MS Bodi 264, folio 51v) Flemish, mid-14th Century; (by permission) ©
Lyric & Script Excerpts : Creative Commons
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Venus, & Company, on Life, Hearts, & Laughter!
; M. Ford Creech Antiques