Lay for the Day 10th
in the National Gallery in London, Mary Richardson, a suffragette, takes
a cleaver to the famous painting by Velasquez known as the Rokeby Venus
and leaves seven large slashes in the naked back of the Goddess of Love.
(The image above appeared in The Times the following day –
the first time the paper printed a half-tone photograph.)
accounted for her act in ringing words: I have tried to destroy
the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest
against the Government for destroying Mrs Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful
character in modern history. Justice is an element of beauty as much as
colour and outline on canvas.
Richardson herself is an intriguing character. As a suffragette she was
imprisoned in Holloway, where she went on hunger strike and was subjected
to force-feeding three times a day. She had been at Epsom racecourse on
Derby Day, 4th June 1913, standing alongside Emily Davison before she
carried out the most famous suffragette protest of all running
into the path of the King's horse, which killed her.
later career was chequered. She stood as a parliamentary candidate for
the Labour Party in 1922, and two years later she stood against Labour,
for the Independent Labour Party, which was funded by the Communists.
In 1931 she stood for Labour again, and then in April 1934 she joined
the British Union of Fascists and became the organiser of their womens
section. She wrote enthusiastically for The Blackshirt, the fascist
paper, but soon left the party, in November 1934. This appears to have
been her last involvement in public life.
Sea to Venus
sea that carried her
on the shore,
For that god married her
lives for war
And for no
keep in bed
But must make the sun dim
And the poor
When his troops assemble
whose shining spray,
Whose everlasting sway,
force and grace
Those breasts and thighs, that face
stills the storm,
And on a leaning
her to land
That our loves woes and ease
As once the
fruit in Eves
which we fell;
That same sea groans and grieves
on its swell
Whose wake is cankerous
does not heal.
break white and green
Sent to the gentle queen
us from Mars,
A babys body chars
No hero with
Even the cold of space
to his breath.
Whose arms would blot the stars.
And fold him
in your rose
The greater hearts are those
great love burns.
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