A collection of blogs giving you bite-size pieces of history relating to some of the art we sell at Modern Canvas Art. We have a great thirst for knowledge and it’s nice every now and again to find out how and why. It might even improve your pub quiz score!

Ugly Woman Painting – I Feel Sorry for the Woman

"Ugly Woman" PaintingOne of the more amusing news stories over the last few days is the story of an elderly couple in Winchester, Hampshire who received “out of the blue” a framed painting delivered to them by post.  As one of our customers you might expect this if you had ordered one, but Keith and Sue Webb had not ordered a painting so it became a mystery as to why they were sent it.

What makes this an even more interesting story is that the painting in question was an oil painting of what is commonly termed as an “ugly woman”. Don’t quote me here, it’s everywhere already. I am just reporting that bit. Take a look at the picture and judge for yourself. Beauty and ugliness is a subjective thing – we all need to be thankful for that.

If I were to receive this I would be worried. I mean, it is disturbing. Not only are you not expecting to receive anything of this nature, but the subject of the painting turns out to be a beauty like this. Mrs Webb described her as a “horrid old crone” which is a little unkind. Mrs Webb – you don’t even know this woman.

The reports are that the mystery has been solved but actually it hasn’t really. It was something to do with the Webb’s long-distance relations but that’s about it. Nobody knows who sent it or why. It costs a lot to ship art across the world (we should know) so why on earth would somebody undertake to do this and incur the cost. I think the Webbs have got a cheeky relative somewhere.

But aside from all that, spare a thought for the old woman. She did not ask to be pilloried on the internet for being ugly and the only saving grace is that she is unlikely to be alive today to suffer such humiliation. If she commissioned this portrait you have to say she got it wrong. If she commissioned a portrait of her sucking a lemon then she got it right. Poor old woman – you caused a stir but will never know.

On the Modern Canvas Art website we focus on a lot of beautiful women (Kate Moss is one of the favourites) but after long and hard consideration we elected not to put the Ugly Woman painting in our gallery of famous artist paintings to buy. For one reason, we don’t know who painted it and for another, well that’s obvious really!

Categories: Art World, History, The Bright Side of Life | Tags: ,

The History of the Union Jack

The Union Jack

The Union Jack

The “Union flag”, commonly known as the “Union Jack”, is the flag of the United Kingdom. The terms “Union flag” and “Union Jack” are both historically correct for describing the national flag of the United Kingdom. Whether to call it the “Union flag” or the “Union Jack” is a matter of debate by many but “Union Jack” is now sanctioned by use, has appeared in official use and is confirmed as the national flag by Parliament. It remains the popular term.

The current design of the Union flag dates from the Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of the three national flags: the red cross of Saint George, the red saltire of Saint Patrick’s Flag, both superimposed on the Flag of Scotland. The Union flag is normally twice as long as it is wide, a ratio of 1:2. In the United Kingdom land flags are normally a ratio of 3:5; the Union flag can also be made in this shape, but is 1:2 for most purposes. The three component crosses that make up the Union flag are sized as follows: the white diagonal St Andrew’s Cross and the red diagonal St Patrick’s Cross sit side-by-side along the centre-lines of the diagonals. They each have a width of 1⁄15 of the flag’s height with a 1⁄30 flag height fimbriation. The crosses are slightly pinwheeled with St Andrew’s Cross leading in the clockwise direction. The centre-lines of the diagonals must meet in the centre. The three crosses retain their thickness whether they are shown with a ratio of 3:5 or 1:2.

The origins of the Union flag date back to 1603, when James VI of Scotland inherited the English and Irish thrones (as James I), thereby uniting the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland in a personal union (which remained separate states). On 12 April 1606, a new flag to represent this regal union between England and Scotland was specified in a royal decree, according to which the flag of England (a red cross on a white background, known as St George’s Cross), and the flag of Scotland (a white saltire on a blue background, known as the Saltire or St Andrew’s Cross), would be joined together, forming the flag of Great Britain and first union flag. The flag was variously known as the King’s Jack, the Jack Flag or simply the Jack, and by 1674 was being called His Majesty’s Jack. Incidentally there is no uniquely Welsh element to the Union flag. This is because Wales was part of the Kingdom of England when the flag was created in 1606.

The Union flag retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada and it is used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas territories. The Union flag also appears in the canton (upper left-hand quarter) of the flags of several nations and territories that were former British colonies. The British Army’s flag is the Union flag, but in 1938, a “British Army Non-Ceremonial Flag” was devised, featuring a lion on crossed blades with the St Edward’s Crown on a red background. This design is used at recruiting and military or sporting events when the Army needs to be identified but where the reverence and ceremony due to the regimental flags and the Union flag would be inappropriate.

The Union flag is generally only flown on public buildings on days marking the birthdays of members of the Royal Family, the wedding anniversary of the monarch, Commonwealth Day, Accession Day, Coronation Day, the Queen’s official birthday, Remembrance Sunday and on the days of the State Opening and prorogation of Parliament. It is also flown at half mast from the announcement of the death of the Sovereign (save for Proclamation Day), or upon command of the Sovereign.

The Union flag is a brand icon and has been used by many music artists ranging from The Who, Freddie Mercury, Morrissey, Oasis, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, to the pop girl group the Spice Girls. It is commonly used on computer software and internet pages as an icon representing a choice of the English language where a choice among multiple languages may be presented to the user. The Union flag has also been embroidered on various “Reebok” equipment as a mark of the brand’s British origin.

You can buy a Union Jack canvas print from Modern Canvas Art. Take a look also at our Who canvas print and Oasis canvas print, both depicting the Union Jack.

Categories: History, Subjects | Tags: ,

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