We begin with your favourite artist Millais...
'A dream of the past.' Or 'Sir Isumbrus at the Ford'
John Everett Millais 1857
( Not too much of my un-favourite Pre-Raph flattening of perspective here- but maybe that's why he's your favourite, Em's! )
Anyhow, my little one- our tale today concerns 'The White Knight' in 'Through the Looking Glass'.
I am convinced ( as have others been before me ) that the White Knight is Dodgson's 'Hitchcock' moment, where he appears in a cameo-role. He even directs Alice's feelings about the whole adventure-
" Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking Glass, this was the one she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it were only yesterday- the mild blue eyes and the kindly smile of the Knight- the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her."
Fast-forward though to post-manuscript when the reluctant Tenniel finally agreed to illustrate the sequel, ( he was quoted as saying how difficult to work with Dodgson had been. ) Tenniel had pulled ranking on Dodgson previously, refusing to model Alice on the original 'Muse' and making her a blonde long-haired child instead. He had even had all copies of the first edition of Alice recalled, declaring himself unhappy with the quality of printing his illustrations.
This time, he appears to be quite cheeky, and not only place a cariacature of himself as the White Knight, but also to base it loosely as a parody of Millais painting above. This I interpret as his idea and not Dodgsons, especially as 'Sir Isumbras' is more akin to the visage of Mr T, than Mr D!
Whether or not Mr Dodgson then did a little re-write to redress the balance can only be conjecture- but a clue to this could be-
"The Knight looked proudly down at his helmet, which hung from the saddle. 'Yes', he said; but I've invented a better one than that- like a sugar-loaf'. When I used to wear it, if I fell off the horse, it always touched the ground directly. So I had a very little way to fall, you see- But there was a danger of falling into it, to be sure. That happened to me once- and the worst of it was, before I could get out again, the other White Knight came and put it on. He thought it was his own helmet."
I think it is likely Emily. And he uses the duality theme right the way through the book as we have discovered before.
I rather like Tenniels sense of humour and his 'battles' with Dodgson. It's a nice side story to look at while we ponder away at the sub-texts...
Back to Sir Isumbras, he had been parodied earlier.
This one from 1857 was by Frederick Sandys.
'Sandys' famous parody of Sir John Everett Millais's A Dream of the Past -- Sir Isumbras at the Ford (1857) features Ruskin as an ass on which Millais (the knight) rises while holding his two children, Rossetti and Hunt. Note The paint bucket and peacock feathers. Ironically, after creating this famous skit of the PRB, Sandys himself became a friend and associate of the Pre-Raphaelites.'
And last but not least Emily, is GiGi's parody for you! Here's us riding the 'Old Heritage Donkey' at Dimbola, Mary 'House Maman', Brian 'Chairman' and Granny clinging on for dear life at the back.
Signing off, your ever loving Grandmother GiGi xxxx