George W. Joy

Irish, 1844 - 1925

Griselda

Date: 1903



"Flower of wifely patience." - Chaucer

George Joy wrote of this painting:

"Painted in 1903. Exhibited at the Royal Academy the same year, and at the St. Louis International Exhibition in 1904. Size, 54 x 32 in.

My lord, ye wrote that in my father's place
Ye did me stripe out of my poor wede
And richly ye clad me of your grace.
To you brought I nought elles out of drede
But faith and nakedness and maidenhead;
And here your clothing I again restore,
And eke your wedding ring for evermore

(Chaucer).

Griselda stands beside her gilded marriage-chest, into which she places her rich garments. She makes but one poor request that she should be allowed to keep the smock she came in from her father's cottage. She looks pleadingly, not reproachfully, at her husband, who is forced, hard man though he be, to turn and fly from her sweet presence lest he should be betrayed into unmanly tears.

"That smok," quod he, "that thou hast on thy bake,
Let it be still, and bare it forth wid thee."


With all her self-abasement and humility, she has through it all, especially in Chaucer's version, that native nobility and self-restraint which is often so strikingly apparent in the peasant nature. Nor is she one of those spiritless or feeble natures who yield because they are feeble. She was strong in her determination to keep to her plighted truth, to her promise of obedience, absolutely in word and deed, even in thought, for, even in this cruel trial she is able to say:

But certes lord...
... it shall not be
That ever in word or werke I shall repent
That I you gave min herte in hole intent.

(Canterbury Tales).

On the ground is a little silver casket, into which she is about to drop her most precious possession - her wedding ring. Still she clings to it, though she has transferred it from her left to her right hand; and round that casket lies a broken ivy spray, fit emblem of her state. Special attention is called to the coronet, which in those days was not made according to the rank or status, but according to the purse or fancy of the wearer.

Colour note: A grey pearl in a setting of Limoges enamel. Thus might the colour of this picture be described - a very difficult one to reproduce."

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