Even with one’s very favourite artists, there is often a recurring feature that one eventually finds irritating. Bonnard’s wonky tables, Burne-Jones’ boyish girls, Renoir’s over-fleshy tones, etc may all be part of these artists’ particular vision, but they can get under one’s skin…
With Marga it is the prominent chin.
The Madonna in the Oxton Church tracery lights is an example (see below). Her chin is not just prominent, it is sharp – almost to the point of demanding attention. And this chin recurs throughout Marga’s work.
Admittedly, sharp chins do give outline, which is very useful for a stained-glass artist, whose images must be seen from a distance, and chins also often give a sense of strength of character (interestingly, it occurs mostly in female characters as far as Marga is concerned), so some small justification is there for them.
But even so, for this Margaret Rope enthusiast, its frequency is quite remarkable!
But is there another reason for its presence, apart from its design advantages? Could the chin have been modelled from real life?
The original could be a feature of the mysterious Peg Poore.
Peg, a good friend of the Rope family, has been identified as one of the figures in the ‘Holy Saturday panel’ (to be found in Kesgrave Church) – in which Marga did portraits of all family … plus Peg.
Peg, seen kneeling (above), does indeed have a very prominent chin, the longest chin of all the figures in the panel.
Family stories say that Peg was Marga’s inseparable best friend when they were young women, and that this is the reason she came to be featured in what is otherwise strictly a family gathering.
So… when Marga painted the prominent chin elsewhere, was she, at least partly, remembering her old friend?
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