First impressions are lasting. Some continue to haunt years later. When we first viewed the house in 1991, it had been unoccupied for three years. Neglect was evident throughout the property. Even the orchard looked as though it needed a good dusting.
|"My face is my fortune,Sir" she said|
|The print in the dining room before restoration of the house.|
By Edwin Thomas Roberts (1840-1917)
I was always curious about the origin of the painting and its accompanying quotation.
I was surprised to find that the quotation was from a nursery rhyme whose origins could be traced back to before 1790. I found it in the Archaeologia Cornu-Britannica; or an Essay to preserve the Ancient Cornish Language, by William Pryce.
It is listed under “A collection of Proverbs, Rhimes, &c.” as a Cornish song. There is a footnote on the page that states “☞ This was the first Song that ever I heard in Cornwall ; it was sung at Carclew, in 1698, by one Chygwyn, brother-in-law to Mr. John Grose, of Penzance. — (TONKIN.)”
The rhyme had several different mutations and in The Real Mother Goose (1916) it appears as follows.
"Where are you going, my pretty maid?"
"I'm going a-milking, sir," she said.
"May I go with you, my pretty maid?"
"You're kindly welcome, sir," she said.
"What is your father, my pretty maid?"
"My father's a farmer, sir," she said.
"What is your fortune, my pretty maid?"
"My face is my fortune, sir," she said.
"Then I can't marry you, my pretty maid."
"Nobody asked you, sir," she said.
It is evident then, that the girl in the print was a milk maid. The image could of course be suggestive of a rather warm day, or that she had several cows to milk.
My face is my fortune by Edwin Thomas Roberts (1840-1917), https://www.the-athenaeum.org
|The artist signature in the left bottom corner|
Full Swing by Edwin Thomas Roberts (1840-1917), https://www.the-athenaeum.org/
Grist to the mill by Edwin Thomas Roberts (1840-1917), https://www.the-athenaeum.org/
He painted what might have been the same model a couple of times and there is another of his paintings called “My face is my fortune” but this one is of a milk maid with two pails of milk. Clearly he had a preference for a certain look in his models.
Unmasked by Edwin Thomas Roberts (1840-1917), https://www.the-athenaeum.org
|The "voorhuis" before restoration.|