A Life Well Spent: Charles West Cope


Not naturally given to all-things Victorian, this painting by Charles West Cope nonetheless delights me.

First, Cope has masterfully captured the atmosphere of a contented mother, calmly, yet busily caring for her four children. (Don't miss the baby in the basket on the right.) Mama's happily knitting away on a pair of socks while listening to her son recite his lesson. The scissors she's using to hold the book open bear the stamp of authenticity. (I'm forever placing stray objects to hold open the book I am reading aloud to my children so my hands can be free to knit.)  I like to think the container of  cloths about to spill on the floor are laundry she's finally gotten around to folding. And don't you love how the daughter in the foreground is able to read, oblivious to everything else that is going on around her? It looks like she might have discarded her lesson or even a bit of her own knitting, seeing the slate and the stray yarn poking out from under her dress.This painting just rings so true to me.

And then, there's that beautiful title: "A Life Well Spent." Yes, indeed.


Jessica said…
Hello Anne,

I love this! I added the link to this post on my blog.

When I am making lunch, I often find some object in the kitchen (tape measure, paper towel holder) to prop open our little vintage spelling book. As I am chopping, shredding, or stirring something in a pot, the children are doing their oral and written spelling lists :)
SarahD said…
My favorite part of this post is your admission that you are not give to all things Victorian. I was doing a google search recently for something in the "large, homeschooling family" category, and let me tell you, the Victorian age seems to be alive and well!
Anne said…
Sarah -

You don't want to get me started on that topic. ;) I get frustrated when I see a confusion between Victorian sentimentality and genuine godliness. Not that there weren't some wonderful things written, painted, composed, etc. during this time, but we shouldn't just wholesale accept anything produced during this era as good when a lot of it is definitely not.

BTW -I've just begun reading a biography of Elizabeth Prentiss, a woman I greatly admire who lived during this era. The author, Sharon James does a good job from what I've read so far in analyzing how her era affected her.

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