Friday, May 01, 2009

Martyr of Solway

Margaret Wilson, 18 year old Scottish Presbyterian, refused to swear an oath declaring loyalty to the King as head of the Church of Scotland, and was reportedly executed by drowning.

Richard Hannula tells the story of Margaret Wilson and her fellow martyr, Margaret MacLaughlan. He reports that both Margarets died very bravely. Margaret Wilson, having witnessed Margaret MacLaughlan's death minutes before, nevertheless refused - to the very end - to swear the oath which would have still saved her, even as the tide rose higher and higher around her.

This painting, by John Everett Millais, uses the upper torso and head of a another Millais painting: "The Knight Errant", which depicts a nude martyr being released from her chains by a knight. After the painting caused an uproar, Millais cut away the upper torso and head, and repainted "The Knight Errant" with the woman's face turned away from the viewer. Millais then used the original torso and head to paint "The Martyr of Solway". Either Millais or a later artist painted a blouse and skirt over the nude torso.

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