Eloisa and Abelard

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale, ROI, RWS, 1871-1945

Water-colour illustration / colour plate

1901

Source: Brickdale 12

Lines printed with the title: "From lips like these what precepts failed to move? / For soon they taught me, 'twas no sin to live" (from Alexander Pope's Eloisa to Abelard). This was a popular subject in the nineteenth century, but it was apt to be more soulfully treated. Brickdale's early twentieth-century version, of the famous lovers stealing a secret kiss, is quite daring — especially in the Gothic context, with the figures in stained glass windows to witness them! Lavish in detail and colour, it has an altogether bolder feel to it.