The Salon Advent Calendar: Day Eleven

Henriëtte Ronner-Knip was yet another female artist who was taught by her artist father. When he became blind in 1832, Ronner-Knip gradually took over managing the family, using her art to earn a living. She was one of the few nineteenth-century women for whom this continued after marriage; her husband became her manager. Ronner-Knip’s subject matter narrowed to animals, then mainly cats and dogs. She lived much of her life in the Netherlands, and was awarded the Order of Leopold in 1887. Cat Resting shows one of her favorite subjects, the long-haired tabby. The level of detail is exquisite; each hair is executed with equal care. Even the signature is beautifully executed.

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Maude Valerie White was extraordinarily successful as a composer during her lifetime, particularly of song. She has been almost completely neglected since, victim to the post-WWI deep suspicion of Victorian emotion. Yet White was a consummate craftsperson and musician; she was the first female student to win the Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, and she successfully managed a career as a pianist, composer, teacher and vocal coach. She was fluent in five languages, setting poems in all of them. The Devout Lover, to a poem by Walter Herries Pollock, was a huge success when it was first published. Its faint reminders of Renaissance courtliness match well with White’s soaring and memorable melodic lines.

It is not mine to sing the stately grace,

The great soul beaming in my lady's face,

To write no sounding odes to me is given,

Wherein her eyes outshine the stars in heaven.