‘The Funeral of Shelley’ by Louis Édouard Fournier (1889). The Walker Gallery, Liverpool, UK.
The painting depicts the funeral of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley on a beach in Tuscany (18 July, 1822). It is said by some that Edward Trelawny plucked Shelley’s carbonised heart from the ashes, but was eventually persuaded to hand it over to Shelley’s widow, Mary – who preserved the relic for the rest of her life.
Here is a little literary context – the year of this painting (1889) was the year that Robert Browning, Wilkie Collins and Amy Levy died. It was also the year that the following were published:
- George Gissing – The Nether World
- Rider Haggard – Cleopatra
- Jerome K. Jerome – Three Men in a Boat
- Molly Elliot Seawell – Hale-Weston
- Mark Twain – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
- Lewis Carroll – Sylvie and Bruno
- Jules Verne – The Purchase of the North Pole
- Anton Chekhov – A Marriage Proposal
- Leo Tolstoy – The Fruits of Enlightenment
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky – The Voice of the Silence
- T.H. Huxley – Agnosticism
- Friedrich Nietzsche – Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer
- Oscar Wilde – The Decay of Lying