Hinson’s new film is full of Trotter’s paintings, brought to life through the skillful addition of depth and animation, until it almost feels as if we’re walking through some of her landscapes. Experts on Trotter tell her story, and actors Michelle Dockery (of “Downton Abbey”) and John Rhys-Davies (of “The Lord of the Rings”) read from Trotter’s and Ruskin’s writings. The viewer comes away deeply moved by this woman’s talent and by her courageous choice to put others before herself.
ManyBeautifulThings.com is now available on DVD and as a digital download.
Suppose you were given the choice between using your God-given gifts in a way that would make you famous, or in a way that would guarantee a life lived in obscurity.
That’s the choice one Victorian-era artist had to make. And her decision is the focus of the wonderful new documentary called “Many Beautiful Things.”
Lilias Trotter had a gift for seeing beauty and for capturing it in exquisite watercolors. Trotter was mentored by the greatest art critic of the period, John Ruskin. He told her that if she would devote her life to her painting, she could become one of the best artists of her time.
Lilias Trotter was torn over this. As tempting as the prospect was, she had other gifts that she felt called by God to use. Her gift of sight involved more than just her art; as one of the experts in the film tells us, she had “a rare gift for seeing a need.” She spent much of her time helping prostitutes and other needy women—time that Ruskin thought should have been spent on her painting.
In the end, Lilias Trotter chose the kingdom of God over artistic fame. She decided to become a missionary to Algeria, and when a denominational mission board refused her application because of health issues, she and two friends simply went there on their own. She never gave up her art—indeed, it seemed to be reborn, as she filled sketchbooks with beautiful paintings of her new surroundings. But she spent the bulk of her time ministering to women and children in need.