Thursday, 23 October 2014

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.

Contrary? That's only the half of it! What a lot these royals were. Didn't seem to think twice about knocking off anyone they disagreed with or who disagreed with them. Don't study the history of Kings and Queens, it'll do your head in!

This is my second painting depicting nursery rhymes.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells.
And pretty maids all in a row.

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary. Oil on Canvas. 16x12

Some say it's about Mary Queen of Scots. Wasn't she also Mary 1 of England? Known as Bloody Mary? I'm confused. I have tried to look it up, but it is very complicated. Or maybe I'm just thick?

Some say it is allegorical, about Catholicism. For or against I don't know.

How does your garden grow could refer to her reign over her realm.

Siver bells? Catholic cathedrals?

Cockleshells? Insinuating her husband (which one?) was unfaithful.

Pretty maids all in a row could be her ladies-in-waiting.

There are lots of other explanations about this rhyme. I don't know the truth of it. I have just painted the picture that was in my head. That'll do for me. I am more interested in the painting than the history, as you may have guessed. I didn't know what Mary looked like when I was painting this, so I made her up. Turns out I wasn't too far off the mark if I do say so myself.

Please click on photo to enlarge.



  1. Mary Queen of Scots was a fascinating character. She lived her life on her terms when she finally became queen of Scotland. Before and after that she was more or less at the mercy of others. Your painting captures the whole of the rhyme. Very nice.

  2. Glad you are painting, that is a gudun. The pic of Mia is lovely.

  3. Well, we learn something every day. I didn't know the nursery rhyme was connected to history. I thought the maids in a row were rows of flowers. I like your painting and the picture if Mia is wonderful.

  4. Those rhymes weren't so innocent when they were written! Love the painting, and the new pic of Mia is awesome.

  5. I had no idea Mary, Mary quite contrary had an historical aspect you live and you learn.
    I remember singing/skipping to that nursery rhyme, and thought it was just about some girl named Mary who liked gardening.