Tag Archives: Victorian mourning dresses

They Will Break Their Hearts with Weeping

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They Will Break Their Hearts with Weeping. By Julie Kwiatkowski Schuler

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St. Stephen’s Day

This is an acrylic painting on acid-free paper 9″ x 11″. It is a symbolic painting of St. Stephen and the lore around St. Stephen’s Day.
St. Stephen was known as the patron saint of widows, so he is flanked by two women in Victorian mourning dresses. At the feet of the woman on the left sit three balls. St. Stephen is often depicted with three stones to indicate that he was put to death by stoning. Here the three balls stand in for the three stones. The widow on the left is also holding a dead wren. According to lore, St. Stephen was about to escape his captivity when a wren woke up his captors. Since that time, a wren was caught and killed each St. Stephen’s Day because it must now take a part of his martyrdom.
St. Stephen is often depicted as a young man holding a miniature church. Here he is depicted as a child, also holding a church in miniature. To the right of St.Stephen is a rocking horse with bleeding legs. St. Stephen’s Day, in medieval through Victorian times, was a day to bleed horses in order to preserve their health in the coming year.
Ancient Welsh custom, discontinued in the 19th century, included the “holming” (beating or slashing with holly branches) of late risers and female servants. My widow on the right is holding a branch of holly to remind us of this forgotten tradition.
St. Stephen’s Day is the day after Christmas, that is why the candles are just put out in the wreath at the center of the composition.
St. Stephen’s Day. Original, one of a kind art by Julie K. Schuler. The “My Good Babushka” watermark in the first picture is not on the actual painting, but is included here for security purposes.

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St. Stephen’s Day

St. Stephen is often depicted as a young man holding a miniature church. Here he is depicted as a child, also holding a church in miniature. St. Stephen’s Day is the day after Christmas, that is why the candles are just put out in the wreath at the center of the composition.
You can see the finished St. Stephens’ Day Painting and read more about St. Stephen’s lore at My Good Babushka.

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St. Stephen’s Day

Working on St. Stephen’s Day. St. Stephen was the patron saint of widows and he was usually depicted as a young man. Here I’ve made him a young boy between two widows in Victorian mourning dress. I like that the widow I’ve been working on has a Goya-inspired sort of feel, with her pale skin elegant gesture. St. Stephen is often shown with a miniature church so I’ve given him one. He is also depicted with three stones symbolizing his martyrdom by stoning. I’ve replaced the stones with three balls.

I bet you are wondering why the dead bird. I’ll tell you next time!

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St. Stephen’s Day

Choosing my palette for St. Stephen’s Day. A lot of black and white, brown and green, a little yellow ocher.

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St. Stephen’s Day

Some sketches for my St. Stephen’s Day painting. Traditionally, St. Stephen is depicted as a young man. Here, I’ve depicted him even younger, as a boy. He is flanked by widows in mourning dresses because St. Stephen is the patron saint of widows. I will tell you more about the symbolism in this painting as we go along.

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