Frederick Daniel Hardy - The Chimney Sweep (1866)
William Frederick Yeames - The Jacobites Escape the Punch Room at Cotehele House, Cornwall (1868-1874)
This Tuesday I would like to present works by English painters Frederick Daniel Hardy and William Frederick Yeames. Hardy’s ‘The Chimney Sweep’ and Yeames’s ‘The Jacobites Escape the Punch Room at Cotehele House, Cornwall’ both utilize a common household construct, the fireplace, as their centerpiece. The vantage points used for these two paintings are remarkably similar, framing the scene within the same general area of the room and even featuring hallways toward the left side, however the tone between these two works, and what the fireplace indicates to their respective subjects, couldn’t be any more different.
Our family shown in ‘Chimney Sweep’ seems more startled than curious about what is taking place in the fireplace, and I’m especially drawn to the two figures comforting each other in front. This is a wonderful painting within which the fireplace operates as a foreboding element, startling the children during the early morning hours. There are plenty of wonderful details throughout this piece, including the sweep’s feet visible from within the fireplace and the delicately rendered knickknacks on the mantle.
While the fireplace in ‘Sweep’ is a source of alarm, our fireplace in Yeames’s painting represents salvation for its subjects. Based on the title, I presume these Jacobites are eluding forces under William of Orange, either before or during the Glorious Revolution. I like how the carpet is crumpled up to make room for the wood, obviously removed from the fireplace to make way for escape. The little girl sitting alone by the doorway and the woman looking out of the window provide some interesting touches to this episode. I also like how the candlelight is allowed space to glimmer against the shadow of the fireplace, perhaps offering a sign of hope to our unlikely subjects.