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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

wright of derby includes the dog

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (PD)
1786:  Joseph Wright of Derby takes up his brush to portray the Reverend Thomas Gisborne, his wife Mary, and their greyhound.  The Gisbornes (he's 28 here, she's 26, and they're two years into a marriage that results in eight children) are comfortable in their rural setting, though the elegance of their clothing makes it clear they're no hicks.  Mary gazes in her husband's general direction with a hand on his shoulder, but he looks out onto the world, with a hand lovingly cradling the dog's muzzle.  I wondered if there was any reflection of this in his work, and as it happens, Gisborne did publish two books on the duties of the sexes.You guessed it:  long story short, women are divinely appointed helpmeets.  (If you want to page through his An Enquiry Into the Duties of the Female Sex, here you go.)  He was also an abolitionist, and a poet.   I hoped to find something of his in which he spoke kindly of animal beings, based on the tender way he interacts with his dog.  When I did some digging, frankly what I liked best was his hymn about worms, "Turn, Turn Thy Hasty Foot Aside":

TURN, turn thy hasty foot aside, 
Nor crush that helpless worm! 
The frame thy scornful looks deride 
Requir’d a God to form.

The common Lord of all that move, 
From whom thy being flow’d, 
A portion of His boundless love 
On that poor worm bestow’d.

The sun, the moon, the stars He made 
To all His creatures free: 
And spreads o’er earth the grassy blade 
For worms as well as thee. 

Let them enjoy their little day, 
Their lowly bliss receive; 
O do not lightly take away 
The life thou canst not give!

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