A Couple of Extras for ‘The Shining’?

Sometimes I see an old painting and immediately it strikes me that something about it is not of its time and has instead a familiar, more contemporary quality. And this was precisely the case when I looked at the painting of the Gosnall twins, Master Thomas and Master John, painted in around 1749 by Francis Cufaude (c.1700-c.1750).

‘Master Thomas and Master John Gosnall of Bentley’ by Francis Cufaude. Oil on canvas. 1749

The twins were born on 8th August 1745. and their family, the Gosnolds/Gosnalls, claimed descent from Edward III through their great-great-grandmother, Winifred Pole. This painting is currently hanging in the Rococo Drawing Room of Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich.

Obviously, this representation shows the twins in the appropriate dress for their age and class during the eighteenth century. However their staring, blank expression with a hint of smugness, looks modern to me. They could just as easily have turned up with the twin girls in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. I think it’s the foreheads?

The Gosnall Twins hanging in the Rococo Drawing Room of Christchurch Mansion.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

23 thoughts on “A Couple of Extras for ‘The Shining’?”

    1. Yes, but I have an excuses, lots of them. The painting in real life is altogether quite large, it dominates the room it hangs in and, well, as usual, neither my phone or my fancy camera managed to catch the reality.

  1. There is a little something out of perspective about the faces to the hair, but the thing that jumped out at me was that such little boys were already armed with whips, and seemed to know how to hold them.

    1. Well, the notion of childhood substantially being a period different from adulthood, is only just beginning in the latter part of the 18th century in England and as such formal portraiture represents children as small adults in adult dress with adult accoutrements such as whips. There was a ‘Breeching’ ceremony when boys of about five first wore ‘adult’ breeches. Interestingly, the breeching ceremony was practiced across the classes even if not all boys received a new pair, it was still a significant event marking the end of infancy. However, this picture is definitely a showoff painting on several levels.

      1. And I’ve detected a tendency in my ms set in late 1800s to refer to very young children as toddlers. Whoops! Have been changing that to infants. (Your reference to infancy refers)

      2. Ah yes, the language authenticity issues. I am a natural pedant (hadn’t you guessed already!) and one thing that really annoys me is when in recent past dramas, you know set in 1970s, 80s or 90s, everyone speaks as we do today. Some production people spend a fortune on visual details and let even obvious language gaffs pass by.

      3. I had feedback from an editor friend that the dialogue in my ms is “too correct”. But I have read many newspaper articles of the time, and I can’t shift the natural inclination to write in complete sentences, or at least use phraseology that is tidier than what we would say today. I’m referring for my central character who is middle-class aspirational. It sounds right to me, but let’s see what a publisher thinks if it gets that far.

      4. Oh that is all very difficult. Natural conversation is so awkward to render in text especially if an author is writing about the past. Reading Austin or the Brontës or even Dickens shows you more of the expected form of written text in their times when they were constrained by what was the expected in a novel. I’ve just begun reading Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” again and, of course, she doesn’t write dialogue in Tudor English otherwise very few people would persevere trying to read it. I think how you choose to write dialogue for your characters should be your character’s choice from/via you – if you see what I mean?!

      5. I do see what you mean. And I’m convinced I’m not contriving the voice – that it is coming through as my character is telling me. I’m not attempting a West Yorkshire accent, and she (Louisa) is speaking rather well in her word choice. But I’m attributing that to being the educated daughter of a philanthropic tradesman. In real life, her father was a Cordwainer and owned anatomical bootmaking businesses (ie bespoke) in Bradford and Shipley. He was also an active Non-Conformist, ran Sunday Schools, fundraisers, went on speaking circuits with other Baptists, etc. Not that any of that means she lost her accent, of course. But I don’t think she would have spoken like a fish-wife.

        Plus Louisa is an avid novel reader, and references Dickens several times. She also has a “thing” for Lord Byron and uses his quotes from time to time.

        On the other hand, there is an early character who has a very distinctive accent. I have no idea what it is, except southern/south-western. She, Alice, has a habit of adding an extra ‘d’ into her words, such as happended, and uses “be” instead of “are”. Have no idea how she popped up with that.

      6. Reading your character’s bio, I wonder why you wouldn’t stick with how she is sounding, particularly if it feels authentic to you. Writing characters with strong regional accents and from the past too, can sound like parody. Do you have a reader in mind? Or, is it the view that a text finds its readership? You know, I think you should write what you want to and tell the story you believe in and negotiate with your editors.

      7. Thanks Agnes. No particular reader in mind, beyond those interested in historical novels, but I am rewriting into the first person, as if Louisa is addressing her daughters. I definitely will stick with the intuitive way it is coming forward. Another editor may not hold the same view as the one who felt the sentences were too complete.

    1. Gosh that is a coincidence, but I suppose ‘The Shining’ is THE horror film and we are coming up to halloween. I’ve taken a look at the Grady Girls and think your friend makes an excellent drawing. To me the pair look rather sinister even in the pretty blue dresses your friend has drawn so well and I guess that’s success as that’s what Kubrick was aiming for. I do wonder where the child actors are these days?

      1. Sometimes I think that movie is too scary even for adults. And the book is worse. I remember reading it in college, on a winter vacation, and though I was safe in my bed at home (staying up until about 1 AM to finish it) I felt a little…uneasy…

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