A story of love, loss and faith

Abby Wright has created this beautiful brand new contemporary illustration especially for our project. it is inspired by Millais’ painting, which we show and use at the MAWF workshops and events.

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Abby’s Illustration
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A Huguenot by John Everett Millais

A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, (1852) by John Everett Millais. Set in the French Wars of Religion, the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf which would protect him from persecution and possibly death. He, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith.

Painted in Victorian England, the picture uses The Language of Flowers, showing Canterbury Bells and Nasturtiums to express faith and patriotism.

“They wrap each other up, but also pull in opposite directions” S.P Casteras

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Valentina and Raoul, standing by the wall…

Abby Wright has created this exquisite illustration inspired by the famous painting of A Huguenot by John Everett Millais. Millias’ painting was an inspiration for the story which we tell in our set of songs ‘The Auricula Suite’

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A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, (1852) by John Everett Millais: Set in the French Wars of Religion, the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf which would protect him from persecution and possibly death. He, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith.

Painted in Victorian England, the picture uses The Language of Flowers, showing Canterbury Bells and Nasturtiums to express faith and patriotism.

a huguenot biggest
“They wrap each other up, but also pull in opposite directions” S.P Casteras

English Garden

The next chapter of our Auricula Suite tale…

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In our next song, many years have passed by, and Valentina embraces life in England, growing roses in her English garden. Millais’ painting is full of coded messages – the Victorian concept of ‘the language of flowers’. Red roses symbolise passion. In Millais’ painting of the lovers standing by the wall the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf that would protect him from persecution and possibly death, and he, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith. Here Canterbury Bells signify faith; and Nasturtiums, patriotism. Valentina settles in the East Coast of England, she marries and has a family. But she never did forget Raoul.

I work the land here, I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown.
I left my homeland, but kept my God-fear
I looked up to him when I set off alone.

I’m long since married; I have three daughters,
I love them dearly and we are family
And my garden is full of roses
I give them water and feed them tenderly.

My husband loves me; we work together
And spend the evenings until the fire burns low.
But when my candle is pale and smoky
I think back to you, I never let you go.

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Our last embrace by the wall,
You kept your faith, you would not lie
The broken bell signalled your fall,
I never knew if you would live or die

In the darkness we lay down in the heather
One kiss to last forever, before I went to sea.
My eldest daughter, she looks so like you.
But home is here now, what is and what will be.

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I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
I left my homeland but kept my God-fear
I looked up to Him when I set off alone

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I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
And in my garden, my English garden
I tend my roses, and water them…alone.

© 2012  Lou Duffy-Howard

Auriculas grown and photographed by Richard Duffy-Howard