The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 25, 2017

January 25, 1816

We learn of a minor but fascinating Victorian figure, Pauline Trevelyan (January 25, 1816 to May 13, 1866), from her Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article:

Pauline Lady Trevelyan... is recalled as an art patron and critic, ..
..[She was born] at Hawkedon, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, the eldest of the seven children of the Revd Dr George Bitton Jermyn (1789-1857), vicar of Swaffham Prior, near Newmarket, and his wife, Catherine Rowland (1792-1828), daughter of Hugh Rowland and his second wife, Anne Beck, of Huguenot descent. Her impecunious father was a notable antiquary and naturalist; when only seventeen, she attended with him the 1833 British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at Cambridge. Here her quick brain and extraordinary memory impressed scientists such as William Whewell, John Stevens Henslow, and Adam Sedgwick, who became lifelong friends. The geologist Walter Calverley Trevelyan (1797-1879) had come to exhibit fossilized saurian faeces and was struck by her knowledge of botany. He was invited back to Swaffham Prior to look at ferns, and on 21 May 1835 he and Pauline (as she was known) were married. Calverley Trevelyan (as his wife called him)-tall, taciturn, and relatively humourless-was twenty years her senior; reputed to be parsimonious, he was in fact a generous donor to charities of his own choosing and indulgent to his wife's artistic enthusiasms, though he was himself only interested in art if it was 'instructive'. Despite differences of age and character, the marriage was undoubtedly a successful one.....
In 1846 Trevelyan inherited his baronetcy and with it estates in south-west England, including Nettlecombe Court in Somerset, and in Northumberland, where the family seat was Wallington, which Pauline Trevelyan preferred. Her admiration for the second volume of Modern Painters led to a close friendship with John Ruskin,.... At his suggestion, she took drawing lessons with William Henry (Bird's Nest) Hunt; she also visited Turner's studio. The Ruskins and Millaises stayed at Wallington on their fateful journey to Glenfinlas in Scotland; when Ruskin's marriage collapsed, Lady Trevelyan unswervingly supported the husband, despite her fondness for Effie Ruskin.

Pauline Trevelyan is particularly associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Pauline Trevelyan became a prominent patron of the Pre-Raphaelites, an association reflected in the alterations and embellishments at Wallington. The house's central courtyard was roofed over, with some Ruskinian motifs by the Newcastle architect John Dobson; William Bell Scott was commissioned to paint eight panels with suitably instructive scenes from Northumbrian history, from St Cuthbert to the modern industrial age, while the pilasters were decorated with flowers and plants by Ruskin, Lady Trevelyan, Arthur Hughes, and the future Lady Dilke. Pauline Trevelyan also commissioned a painting from Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Thomas Woolner began a large marble group for the new central hall; known as Civilization, it was only completed after her death in 1866. It was Lady Trevelyan who reputedly saved William Holman Hunt's Christ in the Temple from a dramatic fire in a London art gallery. Christina Rossetti and Alexander Munro were among her many guests, and she also recognized the potential genius of Swinburne, when he was still a schoolboy; she became to him a kind of guardian angel or understanding aunt, and in a sonnet written after her death he described her as 'grave-eyed mirth on wings' ....

Diminutive, with bright hazel eyes and a protuberant forehead which made her look almost childlike, Pauline Trevelyan was a brilliant and witty woman, enthusiastic, teasing and warm, yet quiet and quaint in manner. William Bell Scott described her as 'light as a feather and quick as a kitten' but 'very likely without the passion of love' ... which was possibly true. Augustus Hare recalled her eyes twinkling all day long, but 'she is abrupt to a degree and contradicts everyone', he continued, adding that she was not much concerned about home comforts and preferred to sit on the floor

Our glimpses at this life show how science and art 
swirled together, among the comfortable classes. This harmony points up something we today may be missing.

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