L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Damas de España, damas de Hispanoamérica

Rosario Suárez de Martínez, by Carlos Enrique (Charles Henri) Pellegrini, 1831. Argentina.
Retrato de una Dama, by Ángel María Cortellini Hernández, 1855. Spain.
Señorita Matilde Palou, by Diego Rivera, 1951. Mexico.
María Josefa Ezcurra de Ezcurra, by Fernando García del Molino, 1849. Argentina.
La Viajera, by Camilo Mori, 1928. Chile.
Manuelita Rosas, by Prilidiano Pueyrredón, 1851. Argentina.
 Doña Maria Francisca Lopez de Zuñiga, Condesa de Montijo, Spanish School, circa 1763-65. Spain.
India en traje de gala (Indian woman in festive attire), Vicente Albán, circa 1783. Ecuador.
Doña Francisca de la Gándara y Cardona, by Vicente López y Portaña, 1846. Spain.
Eva María Duarte de Perón, by Héctor José Cartier, circa 1950.
(The dress seen here is by the French designer Jacques Fath and is featured in a previous post of mine; it's worn
in the portrait by Numa Ayrinhac, and both the dress and the necklace can be seen in a photograph of Perón.)
Doña Micaela Esquibel, unknown artist, circa 1750. Mexico.
Retrato de señora, by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta,1899. Spain.
Lastania Tello de Michelena (the artist's wife), by Arturo Michelena, 1890. Venezuela.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Extreme balance - Renald and Rudy

Photograph by Douglas of Detroit.

"The Adonises of Balance", Renald and Rudy were perhaps the premier handbalancing act of the Forties and Fifties. In vaudeville and burlesque, they performed their novelty act for twenty-five years - eventually at venues as prominent as Billy Rose’s famous Diamond Horseshoe and the London Hippodrome - and even appeared a few times on television. Sadly, I've been able to find next to nothing about the two men, when and where they were born - and possibly/probably died - or even Rudy's last name.

Photograph by Progress of New York.

The only real information I did get was from the book, "Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America", by Leslie Zemeckis. The author interviewed a now nearly blind Renny von Muchow - Renald - who lived with his wife - a former performer herself - at their home in Yonkers. He said that he and Rudy had met when he was fourteen and Rudy was thirteen: "They had a contest in school to see who the strongest boy in school was. And sure enough, Rudy and I came out on top. And we liked it so much, and we gained such a reputation for our strength in school. So we became hand balancers. Burlesque shows at the time showed novelty acts. And some of them were acrobatic and we said, 'Oh, we can do that. Why don't we do an act that nobody else can do because they're not strong enough to do it?' And we developed the act called Renald and Rudy, which kept us together for twenty-five years." They usually wore no more than tight shorts on stage, and tried to make their bodies look as much alike as possible; in photographs and on stage it was often difficult to tell them apart. Their act was usually seven to eight and a half minutes long. From working with strippers in Burlesque, they learned that lavender light "made the skin glow", and they traveled with their own lavender gels. "It wasn't work, it was play - and we were paid for it, well paid and traveled."

Photograph by Progress of New York.

When their career ended, Rudy apparently had a hard time coping with the loss of the partnership. At the time of the interview, Renny told the author, "Rudy lives a solitary life in California in a trailer park. Unfortunately, he never got interested in anything else to get into, to make a living when he got out of show business. He did think he would like to become a hairdresser. He tried it, didn't care for it. Then decided he would become a dog groomer, took over a store on Hollywood Boulevard. And he was very, very busy - doing well - but he says, 'I kept looking out and seeing the sunshine and I'm in here working', and he walked away from it. 'Gee, Rudy you can't do that.' A lot of show people can't bring themselves down to earth enough to take a job that's 9 to 5. I'm afraid Rudy's one of those. Eventually he had to take something. He became a school bus driver. He enjoyed it. He didn't have to apply himself too hard."

 Photograph by Lon of New York.

The two men would see each other only occasionally over the intervening years. "We never liked to write letters. Years go by without writing, but when we get out to California, we meet and it's just like old times. Rudy's like a brother to me. He's more than a best friend. We know each other so well. One thing that held us together, we did this thing together so well, it was as if we were born to do it."

Renny photographed by Tony Lanza. (Three images.)
Rudy photographed by Tony Lanza.
Photograph by Marvin of NYC.
Photograph by Marvin of NYC.
In rehearsal.
In performance. They often performed on a glass stage lit from below, surrounded by scantily clad ladies.
Cover photograph by Earle Forbes, 1945.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Le Génie de la Liberté - La Colonne de Juillet, Place de la Bastille, Paris - by Auguste Dumont, 1833

La Colonne de Juillet (English: The July Column) is a monumental column in Paris commemorating the Revolution of 1830. It stands in the center of the Place de la Bastille and celebrates the Trois Glorieuses, the "three glorious" days of 27-29 July 1830 that saw the fall of King Charles X of France and the commencement of the "July Monarchy" of Louis-Philippe. The column is composed of twenty-one cast bronze drums, weighing over eighty-one and a half tons, and is one hundred and fifty-four feet high. The column is engraved in gold with the names of those who died during the July 1830 revolution, contains an interior spiral staircase, and rests on a base of white marble ornamented with bronze bas-reliefs. Over the Corinthian capital is a gallery sixteen feet wide, which is surmounted by a gilded globe on which stands a colossal gilded figure, Le Génie de la Liberté (the "Spirit of Freedom"), by Auguste Dumont. Perched on one foot, the star-crowned winged nude brandishes the torch of civilization and the remains of his broken chains. Formerly, the figure also appeared on French ten-franc coins.

The first nine images here are courtesy of the wonderful artist, collector, and antiques dealer Andrew Hopkins.

The monument was designed by the architect Jean-Antoine Alavoine, following a commission from the newly-minted roi des Français; the Place de la Bastille was officially selected as the site in March 1831, and Louis-Philippe placed a first stone on 28 July of that same year, the first anniversary of the revolution that brought him to power. A hymn with words by Victor Hugo and music by Ferdinand Hérold was sung at the Panthéon on the occasion. The column was inaugurated exactly nine years later, on 28 July 1840. Music composed for the occasion was Hector Berlioz' Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale, which was performed in the open air under the direction of Berlioz himself, who led the musicians in a procession which ended at the Place de la Bastille.

View over the Faubourg Saint Antoine.

In the foundation, a columbarium was arranged to receive the remains of six hundred and fifteen victims of the July Revolution; a further two hundred victims of the Revolution of 1848 were later interred in the space. The throne of Louis-Philippe was symbolically burned at the base of the column in July of 1848.

A list of the dead whose names are inscribed on the column.


A vision of the completed fountain; work didn't progress this far. Water was never actually connected and the model, as built, differed in design. 

A first project for a commemorative column, one that would commemorate the fall of the Bastille three years before, had been envisaged in 1792, and a foundation stone was laid, 14 July 1792, but the project never got further than that. The circular basin in which the column's socle now stands was realized during the Empire as part of the L’éléphant de la Bastille (The Elephant of the Bastille), a planned fountain with a monumental sculpture of an elephant in its center. Work began in 1810. Four years later, a full scale model of the elephant was constructed, adjacent to the building site, but only completed in semi-permanent stucco over a wooden frame. The permanent bronze sculpture that had been planned was never finished due to financial constraints during the latter days of the Empire, and the model remained in place for more than thirty years, slowly mouldering. Many attempts were made to complete the project but no plan was ever finalized. By the late 1820's neighbors were complaining that it was infested with rats, and six years after the inauguration of the new column, the elephant was finally demolished. Victor Hugo famously eulogized the decaying beast in his Les Misérables.

The Place de la Bastille in 1837, the column under construction and the elephant still nearby.
The finished column in 1842; the elephant would linger for four more years.

Augustin-Alexandre Dumont, known as Auguste Dumont (4 August 180, Paris - 28 January 1884, Paris), French sculptor. From a long line of well-known sculptors, he was the great-grandson of Pierre Dumont, son of Jacques-Edme Dumont, and brother to Jeanne Louise Dumont Farrenc. In 1818, he began studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was a pupil of Pierre Cartellier. In 1823, he was awarded the Prix de Rome for his work, and went to study at the French Academy in Rome. In 1830, he returned to France. In 1853 he became a teacher at the École des Beaux-Arts. Ill health kept him from working after 1875.

A reduced copy of Le Génie de la Liberté in the collection of the Louvre.
Five more images courtesy of Andrew Hopkins.