Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Lord Byron

Lord Byron died on 19 April 1824 at just thirty-six years of age. He was deeply mourned in England and became a hero in Greece. In the 19th century, as subjected peoples, the Christian Greeks started to exert their nationalist aspirations against the Mohammedan Turks. Byron fully supported their struggle for self-determination as a Christian nation. His body was brought back to England, but was refused burial at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, as was the custom for individuals of such stature. Instead, he was buried in the family vault at Hucknall Torkard, near Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire. This portrait of Lord Byron, with whom I share a blood connection, was inspired by the miniature contained in a locket (below) commissioned by Lady Caroline Lamb (about whom I wrote a biography, Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know) that she kept with her until her dying breath. This came four years after the untimely demise of the object of her passion whose end caused her already fragile mental state to finally descend into madness and unsurprisingly hasten her own expiry.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Highgate Cemetery

Vampire Tomb


See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read -the funeral song be sung! - 
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young - 
A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young.

Elżbieta's Vision (Triptych)


"My friend and I were coming down from Highgate Village and we were really in a great mood.  We were not talking, just walking.  And we were walking down, having just passed the north gate, when we both saw this scene of graves directly in front of us.  And the graves were opening up; and the people were rising . . . "

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Lusia (Death)

"Yet a tranquil beauty and profound repose swept over her in death. I returned her quickly decomposing remains to the ground and recited the appropriate prayers.  It was over.  Now she could sleep through the longest night of all . . . " 

Lusia (Metamorphosis)

"Her cascading flaxen tresses caught the dull illumination of the moonlight in their pale reflection. Somewhere, in the background, I could hear the dying pulses of Strauss’ solemn orchestral work, Metamorphosen. It haunts me to this day. Lusia was touched by what lies beyond earthly confines, and became part of the nightmare of hideous visions and visitations associated with Highgate Cemetery at that time. I glimpsed an indistinct figure toward the end, a figure swathed in a white cerement, her face the colour of marble save for her mouth, which seemed full and wanton. This was not the Lusia I had first known . . . "

Friday, 15 April 2016


My original portrait in oils and (below) Lusia herself, as I remember her.