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‘Framing the Picture and Picturing the Frame’. Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ Stories and William Blake Richmond’s ‘The Sisters’ (1862-65)

Currie, Stuart (2016) ‘Framing the Picture and Picturing the Frame’. Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ Stories and William Blake Richmond’s ‘The Sisters’ (1862-65). In: Alice through the Ages: The 150th Anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 15th - 17th September 2015, Hommerton College, Cambridge. (Unpublished)

[img] Text (Paper given at Hommerton College, Cambridge)
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Abstract

This paper traces the possible interpenetration of three texts: Alice’s Adventures Underground (1862-64), William Blake Richmond’s The Sisters (1864) and Alice in Wonderland (1865). The paper considers the painting as a possible dramatization of Lewis Carroll’s frame narrative and therefore seeks to balance and question possible assumptions about the ‘authority’ of these texts and consider the sisters’ own possible agency in the creation of the first oral telling and in the painting itself. The journey from the oral extemporising of ‘Alice’ on a July day in 1862 to what Walter Ong has called ‘the fixity of print’ encompasses a time for Dodgson of an ever-increasing workload for his college, tortured expressions of self-doubt in his diaries, a mysterious breaking of friendship with the Liddells and the realisation of his own limitations as an artist. For the Liddell sisters these years saw an increasingly watchful and guarded home life ameliorated by trips away from Oxford to their recently built holiday-home in Llandudno. It is here, in the summer of 1864, that the young artist, William Blake Richmond, came for a period of eight weeks to execute the commission of a painting of the three daughters of Dean Liddell which later exhibited at the Royal Institution in 1865 as ‘The Sisters’ or ‘The Three Graces’. Blake Richmond’s painting has become an accepted part of the creative memorabilia surrounding the Alice myth. It appeared in the ‘Alice In Wonderland’ exhibition at Tate Liverpool (2011/12) and can often be found in studies of the subject, but so far little attention has been paid to it as ‘narrative painting’ or to the story it appears to tell. The paper uses images and details from both the painting and the urtext as well as other visual material.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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Uncontrolled Keywords: Alice’s Adventures Underground, Blake Richmond’s The Sisters, Alice in Wonderland, interpenetration
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
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Depositing User: Stuart Currie
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2016 14:08
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2016 14:08
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/5102

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