Colin Firth and a prize cabbage in the same blog posting

Regular readers know about my coffee break habits.

I let my fingers do the walking round some online galleries for a ten minute refresher at my desk.

So far, January’s gallery gazing recommendations have taken us to inter-war Germany courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York attitude, character, expression – it’s all here.

And from the distractions of inflation-wracked inter-war Germany to the privations of the 30’s Depression as experienced in the States. A collection of - unusually, colour - photographs of farming communities couldn’t be more of a contrast to the Met’s offering. Visit The Guardian’s online gallery.

For the last January selection my choice was influenced by the Jane Austen Fest my family – well maybe not my husband – enjoyed over the weekend. We watched all the episodes of the BBC TV version of Pride and Prejudice and followed that up with the film version, provoking lively discussion on the best Darcy, Eliza et al.

Colin Firth is the clear Darcy winner, naturally.

Opinion is divided between the beautiful Keira Knightley and the spirited Jennifer Ehrle for Lizzie, but Miranda Frost wins hands down as Jane.

Alison Steadman’s mother is just too silly to be credible, we think, while the film mother is completely convincing as a women driven to utter distraction by 5 dowry-less daughters.

So two Austen-ish suggestions for Gallery tours:

For anecdotes from the rural life try the largest collection of British Folk Art in Britain, held at Compton Verney in Warwickshire and on display online at www.windowsonwarwickshire.

I like visiting the collection for the immediacy of its stories. Several of the oils on display show comic incidents straight from life.

Pictured here are:

'An Instance Never Known Before': during an attempt to slaughter a horse in July 1811, a butcher came to the farm to kill an old cart horse. The horse got away, and tried to run down the butcher until eventually distracted by a comely mare. There’s graphic chaos amongst a field of 9 bulls when they’re panicked by a pop-up hare, and here’s one dear to the heart of Zing Pictures.

In 1802 a Mr. Williams commissioned this picture of his prize bull and his prize cabbage. He liked the lady and the house and the dog enough to include them in this picture of his life’s treasures. You want your prized possessions to be captured for posterity too? Contact me at Zing Pictures. It’s what I do!

Not much is made of fans in Austen’s writing, but these are certainly from her era. You’ll have to be quick to catch this exhibition, courtesy of the Royal Collection.

Some fans were intended specifically to shield the lady’s face from the heat of the fire. Not so much, apparently, to prevent unsightly heat spots, but to stop the wax in her make up from melting. Now there’s a situation Jane failed to exploit.

There’s a slide show on the language of the fan too. The fan gestures for I hate you and Do you love me? seem confusingly similar. Perhaps discretion is the better part of valour; adjourn to the Queen’s 10 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and take refuge in the unambiguously glorious.

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