Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Face that everyone loved


Portrait of Lady Lavery painting, by Sir John Lavery


Lady Hazel Lavery, wife of renouned Irish painter  Sir John Lavery was the subject of what some estimate to be in the region of 400 paintings by the artist.

Lady Lavery is the face on this currency note

Irish banknotes

After the Anglo-Irish treaty, the Irish free state government invited Lavery to create an image of a female figure who would personify Ireland . Such a personification links back to figures in ancient Irish mythology and has been illustrated in recent centuries by women such as James Clarence Mangan's Dark Rosaleen and W. B. Yeats Caitlin Ni Houlihan.
This personification of Ireland modelled on Lady Lavery and painted by her husband was reproduced on banknotes of the Republic of Ireland  from 1928 until the 1970s. It then appeared as a watermark on notes until the latter were replaced by the Euro in 2002.










The Harp (symbol of Ireland) and Lady Lavery , painted by Sir John Lavery





  The Music is "Dark Rosaleen"

Fond wishes from Ireland, where I am visiting family and exploring.


52 comments:

  1. Hello Helen:
    Lady Lavery did indeed have a face that could launch a thousand banknotes. Such a pity that she has been ousted by the more corporate look of the Euro.

    For, how romantic all of this is. A man so besotted by his wife that he painted her at every opportunity, the poetry of Yeats, the hauntingly melodic 'Dark Rosaleen' and the glorious beauty of the Irish countryside. We do so hope that you are enjoying the most perfect of holidays, cherished by those whom you love and drinking in the stunning beauty that is Ireland.

    Top of the morning to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jane and Lance

      I am smiling at your comment on Lady Lavery's face being capable of launching banknotes. Could one say she had an expensive demeanour?

      Poetry, Music and memories come flooding back as we journey around the land of my birth.

      Wishing you a week of joy

      Helen xx

      Delete
  2. She was clearly the Kate Middleton of her day. The euro notes are so much more bland in comparison with the romance of the old pounds. I hope you are having a super time on your travels. Helen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mise

      That is a good comparison to Kate Middleton. I, too, loved the old pounds, one felt rich then.

      Ireland is living up to our expectations and the weather has been lovely.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  3. She is very beautiful, Helen. What a unique subject for a post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Suze

      Thank you for commenting and I am happy you found the post interesting. I agree that Lady Lavery is a beauty.

      Helenxx

      Delete
  4. She is a lovely muse, and that is such a romantic story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jen

      It is indeed a romantic story. It would have been difficult to find a woman more beautiful.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  5. I prefer the pre-Euro notes. If it's the Ireland I know and love, it'll be raining every 20 minutes but there's always a friendly little bar to take shelter in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right the currency prior to the Euro was much more interesting. There are still lots of welcoming pubs and we heard some great live entertainment. Surprisingly, we are having very sunny weather, some showers too.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful post this is, Helen.
    Thank you for sharing!
    xo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lisa

      Thank you for reading my post and commenting.
      Ireland prompts many questions of the past.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  7. Enjoy your holiday in the 'Old Country', lucky you dear Helen I hope we get to see some more pictures. I descend from Irish on my father's side and truly feel a connection. It is such a beautiful place... even in spite of the rain!!
    I'm not surprised he painted her over 400 times you can see why, those eyes!
    Stay safe Helen and "Sláinte" should you take advantage of those little bars 'Sulky Kitten' mentions.

    Hugs Jane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jane

      We are having a wonderful time here and lots of interesting discoveries. We have been fortunate that the sun has been shining each day, with some showers, which clear quickly.
      I agree Lady Lavery has a beautiful and interesting face.
      Now that Sukly Kitchen and you have suggested it I must find a pub.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. I have seen the images Deborah posted from Aberdeen, quite extraordinary.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  9. How wonderful to be visiting Ireland! I had no idea about Lady Lavery. I only saved the notes with James Joyce on them! She was a lovely lady. I hope you enjoy your visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jacqueline

      It is lovely being home in Ireland and seeing family and friends and exploring. I agree that Lady Lavery is a rare beauty.
      Thanks for your good wishes

      Helen xx

      Delete
  10. Hello Helen,

    Thank you for yet another informative post. With that kind of a face, we can hardly blame Sir Lavery, can we now?! It has a strange haunting quality, one that's not very different from the Irish literature I so much love.

    The mention of Ireland always stirs me, and I confess of being a tad envious of your vacation! Hope you are having a gala time with friends and family.
    And we in the meantime, shall wait for some beautiful pictures of the ever enchanting Irish countryside.

    Love,

    Suman

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Suman

      I am happy you liked this post. Lady Lavery has, as you say, a haunting quality.

      Life is good here and spending time with family, as you so well know, is precious. We have had some wonderful day trips too and I shall write about these.

      Wishing you a week of joy

      Helen xx

      Delete
  11. Helen, Lady Lavery is absolutely beautiful. I hope you are having a wonderful visit. I know there is so much to please you. I do hope you are having a bit of time to paint. I would love to see the landscape through your eye and paintbrush. I will certainly never forget my recent visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bonnie

      I am happy to hear you had a great visit to Ireland. It would have been fun to meet you there.
      I agree with you about Lady Lavery's beauty. I am doing a little painting, small pieces and studies.
      Hope your week is special

      Helen xx

      Delete
  12. Helen! Dear! I did not know about Lady Lavery. She looks stunning - wonderful for us that her husband painted her whenever possible. (My husband never tried to paint me... ;o) ) I hope you are having a fantastic time in Ireland. The youtube video makes me longing to visit again! I am looking forward to your return and maybe some photos and stories??? Christa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Christa

      I think all painters would love to have Lady Lavery as a model. She has such an interesting face. Ireland is beautiful this time of year and we are seeing a lot of the countryside and when it rains it stops in ten minutes and bright sunshine again.

      I am glad you liked "Roisin Dubh"

      Helen xx

      Delete
  13. Lovely to see all your pics and great to learn about Lady Lavery. Are there any paintings of hers to see?
    Cheers Gillian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Gillian

      You raise a good question and I will now be looking to see if Lady Lavery's work gained any recognition. Thanks for stopping and commenting. Have a great week

      Helen xx

      Delete
  14. Lavery was a wondeful artist,thanks for the very interesting post and beautiful song.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Angela and a big thank you for your words and I am pleased you found this of interest

      May your week be very special

      Helen xx

      Delete
  15. Dear Helen:
    It is great to see you. How interesting to learn of Lady Lavery and I think she makes the bill look classy and dignified. Love the music too! Wishing you a beautiful Wednesday from us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mona

      I am happy to read you enjoyed this post. I agree with you that the money preceding the Euro in 2002 is much classier and dignified. Thanks for your kind wishes

      Helen xx

      Delete
  16. Hi Helen!

    At long last, I'm back to Blogland, having spent my holidays in Italy. Still getting used to the British rain and wind, again!

    I like the portrait with the harp. She was very beautiful. Not a classical beauty, but a very contemporary beauty.

    I could not fail to notice a certain similarity with Leonardo da Vinci's Monna Lisa. I think the painter must have been influenced by the way Da Vinci's portrait of a lady was composed: the hand(s) so prominent, the landscape behind the woman (very much in Da Vinci's style) the dark hair (and scarf) very reminiscent of Monna Lisa, I think.

    Just a little reflection, Helen. She was very beautiful. I,ll have to get my husband to finally keep his promise and paint my portrait.

    HUGS

    ANNA
    xx




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anna

      A warm welcome home from your travels in Italy. I will be heading to your blog shortly to read all about your trip.

      Lady Lavery was indeed a perfect model and I love the light that Sir John brings to his paintings. He knows light and clearly spent time in sunnier climes, his shadows have life.
      What a kind offer by your husband to paint your portrait.
      I shall look forward to seeing this masterpiece.
      Wishing you a week of joy, Anna

      Helenxx

      Delete
  17. Lady Hazel was lovley...and without the advent of the camera being in full swing use in those days, how fortunate that she married someone who could capture her beauty so many times, and for eternity, very romantic!

    Happy & safe travels Helen...lovely listening to and viewing the soul of your beautiful homeland!
    xo J~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jessica

      You raise a very good point about Lady Hazel being immortalized due to her husband being a painter. Can we imagine all the beauty that has left the world unrecorded?

      Thanks for your good wishes and we are thriving on being in Ireland and I shall be sad to say good-bye but will look forward to next time.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  18. What an interesting and lovely post, Helen! Lady Hazel was stunningly beautiful. Oh her portrait was drawn by her husband?! He must have loved her so much. I prefer the pre-euro notes too. She makes the notes very elegant!! Have a good time in Ireland!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sapphire

      Thank you for your words of encouragement. Stunningly beautiful describes Lady Hazel Lavery. Oh to have models of this nature to paint. I remember one time painting a model who had such gracious hand movements and even when her hands were resting, she had a distinguished cocking of the little finger.

      I will be sad saying my good-byes but know I will be returning again soon and now shall look forward to Autumn colours in North America.

      Helenxx

      Delete
  19. What a beautiful woman Lady Lavery was, and how lucky to be painted by her own husband,John.
    This is an interesting post Helen. I haven't seen the old Irish pound in many a year.
    The video clip of Ireland and the music evoked goose pimples. I felt a longing a yearning ..something deep within me from my past.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip and time with your family Helen.
    best wishes .. say hello to the "little people for me"
    val x x x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Valerie
      I think we can safely say Sir John loved Lady Hazel.

      I think you need to put Ireland on your travel plans as I know with your curious mind you will make many discoveries.

      I am just back in Canada and getting used to Autumn here and the vivid colours.

      Have a great weekend

      Helen xx

      Delete
  20. I agree with Mise. She was the Kate Middleton of her day. Very interesting post Helen.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sam

      She was indeed an incredibly beautiful woman with a face that holds interest. It was interesting listening to my four brothers and their male friends discuss Kate Middleton's beauty. Their opinions differed, which I found curious as I think she is beautiful.

      Helenx

      Delete
  21. Good morning Helen!

    What an interesting post, and a stunning lady. I did not know of this painting and am now curious about it, I am going to some investigating. How wonderful to have such beautiful pieces of history.

    Have a beautiful day! Elizabeth

    Thank you for stopping by my blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Elizabeth

      She is indeed a stunning lady and so loved and cherished by her husband.

      Thank you for stopping by and wishing you a joyful weekend.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  22. Hello Helen,
    Glad to be catching up on some of your posts. And envying you your time in Ireland! I hope you will be posting images of the trip.
    Take care!
    Sanda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sanda

      I plan on doing some posts on my trip to Ireland and I have so many cherished memories of my trip. We have just returned to North America and are adjusting.

      Have a beautiful weekend

      Helen xx

      Delete
  23. Hi Helen
    What a great post - I never knew Sir John Lavery painted quite so many portraits of his lovely wife, nor that her face graced Irish banknotes for such a long period of time.
    It was Lady Hazel who took away Sir Winston Churchill's awe and fear of a blank white page when coming across him painting gingerly one day.
    She asked what he hesitated about, then took a brush and boldly slapped some paint on. He said afterwards "The spell was broken. The sickly inhibitions rolled away.I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since".
    The Lavery's were great friends of Sir Winston, and Chartwell in Kent, his former home and now a National Trust property, has many of his bold paintings on show in his studio and throughout the house, and maybe if it hadnt been for Lady Hazel breaking that spell he might never have painted them.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hello Gill

    What a delightful story of Sir Winston and Lady Lavery. I have an art book of Winston Churchill's and he is a very accomplished painter. He seemed to have been born with so much talent, passion and determination. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  25. These Irish banknotes are really pretty with this elegant lady. I love to find here a nice story behind many nice things!
    Have a good day, dear Helen.
    Best greetings, Marjolijn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Marjolijn

      I agree with you that the Irish bank notes looked much more pretty and appeared more valuable than the new Euro notes.
      Wishing you a week of joy

      Helen xx

      Delete
  26. WOW what a GORGEOUS FACE indeed!

    Helen, you are so kind. Your comment to me was so true, touching. AND SINCE YOU ARE AN ARTIST, you know the struggles and disappointments that accompany being an artist. I am now learning them, but the art is MASTERING THE ART of taking in all the struggles as well as the far and few between victories.

    THANK YOU. Your presence on my blog post is very meaningful, and I think you understood the feeling behind my post...Anita

    ReplyDelete
  27. Good Morning Anita

    Thanks for visiting and happy you enjoyed my post.

    Your art is very special and UNIQUE and keep doing what you are doing you bring so much joy to many.

    To a week of creativity

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete