Monthly Archives: January 2013



Elegant at Billiards, 1906 or earlier. Alfred Stevens. Wikipedia Commons. Public Domain.
Elegant at Billiards, 1906 or earlier. Alfred Stevens. Wikipedia Commons. Public Domain.

Historian sniffs: “It isn’t a picture. It is a painting. Oil on canvas, mounted on a parquet panel.”

Writer pouts: “You know what your problem is? You are too literal. What are paintings if not pictures telling a story. Who do you think this woman was?”

Historian: “As the title indicates, she was an anonymous Victorian lady.  Although, I am not entirely sure ladies engaged in billiards.”

Writer: “Shows what you know.  I read that in 1426 there was a Frenchwoman who could defeat all challengers.”

Historian: “But was she a lady?  No respectable woman would play a game exposing so many, ahem, points of interest.”

Writer:  “There you go again.  Too literal.  Women began participating in public competitions sometime after 1900.  And this picture is dated 1906 or before.”

Historian:  “Look at the painting.  Such detail on the carpet.  The subject is not playing in public.”

Writer:  “I agree.  Can you see what’s behind the picture?”

Historian: “Painting. “

Writer:  “Whatever.  Step back from facts and imagine who this woman might be.  The details on her gown, the train.  This is an evening entertainment.  The lady is relaxed, confident.  Has her eye on the ball, so to speak.”

Historian:  “And respectable.  Notice she does not bend over too far.  Look how the artist designates the placement of her legs by the flow of her dress.”

Writer:  “Exactly.  Hmmm…who might she be playing?  I think she must be in the library.”

Historian:  “That would be the only correct place for such a large game table.  I have seen them in conservatories, but this is an interior room.”

Writer:  “I think she is playing with her brother.  Perhaps he is home from school – perhaps a college in Oxford.  Maybe he brought a few friends.”

Historian:  “Really!  Next you’ll suggest she’s playing for money.”

Writer:  “No.  She is playing to prove a point.  Billiards is a game of analytical skill and manual dexterity – abilities open to both sexes.  Win or lose, she has the right to play.”

Historian:  “You may be on to something.  That could be what inspired the artist.”

Writer:  “Or not.  That’s the miracle of art.  There are technical points of time, place, and skill.  But, if one looks deeper, there is always a story.



Regular readers may have noticed my slogan: “Sandra Wagner-Wright – Writer, Historian.” Actually, it was supposed to say Writer-Historian-Traveller, but Traveller didn’t show up at the web designer appointment. Writer and Historian arrived early, and may have locked the door. Lately, Historian has been dominating this blog, and would like to point out that today… Continue Reading


Resolution: A firm decision to either do something, or not do something. Did you make New Year’s Resolutions for 2013? Loretta resolved to find an exercise program she could stick with. Voice Over: During the first week of January, gym memberships spike. Loretta, a normal could-be-in-better-shape middle-aged woman, walks into gym full of young hard… Continue Reading


Sorry I missed last week. Christmas village residents did not want to go back into storage. The ungrateful wretches attacked me and tied me up with cheap garlands. While I gnawed my way out, I got a song stuck in my head. Which brings me to today’s topic: What famous Christmas carol takes a long… Continue Reading

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