Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls

Rev Arthur Bell Nicholls 2015

Mr. Nicholls

My first Bronte related painting is completed!  It's a 9x12 portrait of Charlotte's husband, the   Rev Arthur Bell Nicholls .I used a photo from Rev Nicholls middle  years.

I painted Mr. Nicholls before the other Bronte subjects  for a special reason. Arthur's Irish home in Banagher ,called Hill House in his time,  is now a B and B  called Charlotte's Way . My husband and I will be traveling to Ireland to stay at Charlotte Way  this fall .

It's exciting to think of spending time in Arthur's  home and at the site of the first Bronte museum for Arthur filled Hill  House with relics of the Brontes and his Yorkshire life. The Parsonage's  hall clock boomed in Banagher  for 40 years before returning to Haworth . We have many Bronte items  today because Mr. Nicholls  held on to them . He was called possessive. As a Bronte fan I'm glad he was! Arthur  understood the  importance of the Bronte  items, few better; but he wished to keep them for himself while he lived.  Given all he lost when Charlotte passed ,  I can't begrudge him the first 40 years of what we will have for all time thanks to him

The painting is a gift for the owner who is doing much to keep the local Bronte connection bright as well as  local  fame  thanks to Anthony Trollop.  His first post office job was in Banagher

This story is a good illustration of how I work.  The idea and inspiration  for a painting   comes in a flash. I never know when this sort of inspiration will strike. Usually I " see"  the painting  in my mind  and then it become an itch I have to scratch so to speak and I paint the vision

The photo I based the painting on

When we return from Ireland, I will plunge into painting  Papa and Charlotte and another one of Arthur set at the time of his and Charlotte's marriage. The Bronte  have waited for some time
for their pictures!!

Mr. Nicholls did not write poetry,  but he was known for enjoying it and reciting  it with his fine voice  for friends . George Sowden, younger brother of Arthur's great friend, Sutcliffe Sowden recalled

On one occasion, he ( Arthur)  repeated by heart,  from the beginning to end , and without a single mistake or a moment's hesitation, Tennyson's long and exquisite poem "The May Queen" With the charming Irish pathos which he threw into it,it was delightful to hear"

As Charlotte said  of Arthur, he was  " one who has to be known to be appreciated"
George Sowden also recalled Arthur's humor. He certainly showed this attribute as one of the few who relished Charlotte's  curates in " Shirley"  . Mrs Brown , his landlady , though Arthur had"  gone off his head " he was laughing so hard. Turns out he  was reading about the curates.

 George Sowden called Arthur's humor "Irish"  and perhaps that is why he roared over the curates and the English people in Charlotte's life ( CB's  publishers and Mrs. Gaskill ) thought them tasteless and even " course"   ...One had to be Irish to get it

Among the  ecclesiastical quotes, poetry also filled Arthur's common day book as well    One of the  poems he wrote down  was "  The Echo"   A  very popular piece though much of the 19th century . 

It's always interesting to see what poetry speaks to an individual . Given Arthur;'s great grief when he lost Charlotte, this poem is particularly poignant


  I stood on the bank of a swift flowing river
 While I marked its clear current roll rapidly past
It seemed to my fancy forever repealing
That the dearest enjoyments of life could not last

Oh!  tell me I said rapid stream of the valley
That bears in thy course the blue waters away
Can the joys of life's morning awake but to vanish
Can the feelings of love be all doomed to decay
And Echo repeated -----"All doomed to decay "

Flow on in thy course rapid stream of the valley
Since the pleasures of life we so quickly resign
My heart shall rejoice in the wild scenes of Nature
 And friendship's delights while they yet may mine
Must all the sweet charms of mortality perish
And friendship's endearments ah will they not stay

The simple enchantments of soft blooming Nature
And the pleasures of mind must they too
fade away
And Echo slow answered --------"They too fade away "

Then where I exclaimed is there hope for mourner
 A balm for his sorrow a smile for his grief
If beautiful scenes like the present shall vanish
 Where where shall we seek for a certain relief

Oh!  fly said my soul to the feet of thy Savior
Believe in his mercy for pardon now pray
 In him there is fullness of joy and salvation
Thy gladness shall live and shall never decay
 And Echo said sweetly "  ------------Shall never decay"

The poems he choose to record seem to always end in redemption and faith...fitting for a clergyman

What was old is new again

I recent ran into  some old diaries of mine from the last 1970's . Turns out I mixed Romanovs and Brontes back then too!

Back in the day

 It's interesting to see the seeds of my work today. I did little original art work then . I used photocopies to make collages

Bronte Novel  Update

I have been writing my Bronte novel non stop since Dec 2012 and yet I feel I'm just starting to really write now ! Perhaps one has to build writing musels  lol. I know in any applied art,  an apprenticeship is necessary. One can plunge into a new  act of creation  as I did,   zen like ( as in ; just do it )  but  you cannot avoid the work ...and as always, that's not a complaint! A shape to the novel is finally emerging and I'm still filling note book after note book. Back to School sales are a boon to me! I stock up on  the composition books on sale!

Recently I was looking at Wildfield and Wurthing Heights again ...if one wants to  truly visit with the Brontes , read their works! One get such a flash into the Bronte brain there. The time between we and they  vanishes! It's also hugely useful to see what words they used. And the HUMOR found in all Bronte novels is largely over looked, but some passes are hilarious . 

Okay! Back to work!

The Romanov children 1915


  1. You are going to visit the house of Mr. Nicholls!!!!!!!!!!
    That is so great. You really are a traveler. I love the way you are inspired by Mr. Nicolls. What you write about him is so true.

    What a great idea to give the owner of the house your painting, he will be pleased.

    What you write about a flash I understand this ""feeling"" I recognise it.

    From early days you are inspired by the Brontes, so am I. Nice to see your ""old"" stuff.

    Be happy with everything you are doing and have a wonderfull trip to Ireland. And I am waiting to hear from it. XXXX Geri.

  2. Thank you Geri!

    We are traveling because we are getting up in years and it's now or never. Before Harwoth last year, my husband and I had not traveled in nearly 20 years! Time sneaks up on one. We were always saying "someday" Well one runs out of " some days" eventual! lol!

    But also Geri something is inspiring me to make these trips , paint these paintings and write this book .As an artist yourself you understand following " the Muse." :) an artist really must

    Thank you again!

  3. Arthur's looking good!

    I like the poem you cite -- the meter is interesting. You don't see a lot of poems written with triplet meters these days.

    1. Thank you and thanks for stopping by! The earliest publication I have found for the poem was 1830, but it was published though out the 19th century . I like the clever use of the echo

  4. hello Anne,

    I read your comment on my article published on the Brussels Brontë blog;. I was so pleased to see that you were inspired by my trips to Ireland on the Brontë trail. I also became fascinated with Arthur bell Nicholls and agree that he is somewhat ignored in the Brontë story. I think he must have been an exceptional character.
    I loved your painting and I am looking forward to any other paintings you will do about the Brontës. I am also an artist, but in a different field: calligraphy; And I get my inspiration from Emily Brontë's poems. You can see examples on the BBG website.
    About your Brontë novel: is it the intention of publishing at some stage, or only a personal project?
    Let's continue getting inspired by each other!
    good luck with your projects.
    Kind regards
    Marina Saegerman

    1. Hello Marina!

      I'm so happy you saw my comment,stopped by and I'm thrilled you like my painting of Arthur! I will look for your calligraphy on the BBG website! It sounds lovely

      Thank you for asking about my novel. I have every intention of publishing my Brontë novel some day. Its focus is Arthur and Charlotte's story, but many who are usually left in the shade will be playing important roles as they did in life.

      For example, individuals like Arthur's best friend, Sutcliffe Sowden. If he didn't exist, I would have to invent him! lol

      My aim is to be as accurate as possible, but it's still a novel where conversations and letters are created etc. It's a time in Brontë history that is often over looked imo and yet it's among the most interesting.

      If there's an aspect about the story you feel needs to be highlighted,or something about Arthur's family, please speak up!

      Thank you very much again and indeed let's keep inspiring each other!

      Anne Lloyd

  5. Hi Anne,

    Wow, what a project you have there. i'm impressed. I agree fully: it is a period that is not described sufficiently in Brontë books. As if nothing interesting happened after Charlotte got married. So this is something to look forward to, certainly with the bicentenary celebrations coming up.
    I have no real Brontë projects for the coming period. My last project was a perpetual birthday calendar of Brontë poems in calligraphy (picture to be seen on BBG website under picture gallery).
    My next project which will take up most of my time in the coming years, is an Irish poetry project in calligraphy.I have enjoyed the research for poems spreading from mediëval Irish poetry to modern-day poetry. It is very ambitious, I realise this, but I'm passionate about it, it is something which will keep me busy, especially because i want to use more Celtic calligraphy for this project (I love the Book of kells).
    If you wish to email me at any time, give me a sign.
    Good luck with the book and your other projects. I have put this webpage in my favourites, so I can go back to it easier.
    Kind regards

    1. Hello Marina!

      I can't think of anything that would lend itself more to calligraphy than Irish poetry! I'm excited for you! You have the passion for it and that is what it's all about. The rest will follow

      I'd be glad to get emails from you and chat Arthur!., but not sure how to send my address!

      You know more of the Irish part of the story just from your travels and the three main players, CB, Arthur and Patrick were Irish. It's an Irish story .

      Thanks again!