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, June 25, 2017

When a Romanov puts on a swimsuit - le prince Théodore Alexandrovitch de Russie à la plage

All these photographs are believed to have been taken in the south of France, circa first half of the 1920s.

Prince Feodor Alexandrovich (23 December 1898, St. Petersburg - 30 November 1968, Ascain), the second son of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (elder sister of the last Tsar) and Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, he reached manhood just as Russia devolved into revolution, and his family was forced into exile. He was tall - more than six foot four inches - athletic and handsome; he had something of Gary Cooper about him, and something of Cooper's earnest, boyish charm. He was apparently a simple soul, liked to work with his hands. He was also probably not possessed of the most brilliant intellect. And he certainly was rather inept at making his way in the world; throughout his life he was rarely able to find and maintain steady employment or sufficient income. His only sister, Irina, was the wife of Prince Felix Yusupov, and Feodor spent much of the early Twenties living with the couple in Paris, traveling in Italy, Corsica, England. In 1923, he married his first cousin once removed, Princess Irina Pavlovna Paley, the morganatic daughter of the murdered Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich. The couple had a son the following year. But the marriage proved a failure; Irina had an affair with a French count, whose daughter she bore in 1934, and she and Feodor were divorced two years later. In the aftermath of the affair, Feodor went to America, was unhappy there and, after more professional disappointments, he returned to England where, heading into his forties, he settled with his mother. During World War II, still in England, he developed tuberculosis; by the end of the War, he was gravely ill. With the support of his sister and brother-in-law, he returned to France, arriving in Paris on a stretcher; the doctor's prognosis was that death might be imminent. Instead, he was sent to a little house in the Basque region where, supported by his family, he spent the next twenty years, surviving to the age of seventy.

With his wife, née Princess Irina Paley, and her sister, Princess Natalia Paley, later the wife of couturier Lucien Lelong.
With his brother (on the left) Prince Nikita Alexandrovich.
With his brother Nikita (center) and Nikita's wife, née Countess Maria Illarionovna Vorontsova-Dashkova.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hold your horses - a selection of equestrian images

Adam-Franz, Fürst zu Schwarzenberg, later Herzog von Krumlov, performing a capriole, by Johann Georg von Hamilton, circa 1700-10.
El Cid, by Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, 1927.
Model posing for El Cid (above), before 1927.
Equestrian portrait of mademoiselle Croizette, by Carolus-Duran, 1873.
Cavalier (Portrait équestre de M. Arnaud), by Édouard Manet (apparently finished by another hand), circa 1875.
Equestrian portrait of Prince Boris Yusupov, by Antoine-Jean Gros, 1809.
Unknown artist and subject, circa 1690.
Horse and female rider, Tang dynasty (618–907).
Mounted Trumpeters of Napoléon's Imperial Guard, by Théodore Gericault, 1813-1814.
Shah Jahan on Horseback, page from the Shah Jahan Album, portrait by Payag, circa 1630.
Jumping the Gate, by James Seymour, circa 1740-50.
Le Cauchemar (The Nightmare), by John Henry Fuseli (Johann Heinrich Füssli), 1782.
Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, by David Morier, 1765.
Valor, one of the two "Arts of War" sculptural groups flanking the Arlington Memorial Bridge, by Leo Friedlander, circa 1929-30, cast 1950-51.
King George II, by Joseph Highmore, circa 1740s-50s.
Equestrian portrait of Saint Louis of France (King Louis IX), by Jacopo Ligozzi, circa last quarter of the 16th century-first quarter of the 17th.
 Louis-Eugène d’Etchegoyen, Calvary Officer, by Antoine-Jean Gros, 1810.
Spirit of Kansas, by Mary Bartlett Pillsbury Weston, 1892.
Sketch for Equestrian Portrait of Manuel Godoy, duque de la Alcudia, by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, 1794.
Equestrian portrait of Count Anatole Demidoff, later 1st Prince of San Donato, by Karl Briullov, begun circa 1828 (?) and left unfinished.
King Henri II on horseback, by François Clouet and Studio, circa 1540s.
Thomas Cholmondeley, 1st Lord Delamere, on His Hunter, study for The Cheshire Hunt at Tatton Park, by Henry Calvert, circa 1839.
Equestrian Portrait of a Gentleman, by Barent Graat, circa 1660s.
Hand-painted souvenir postcard from the Moulin Rouge, circa 1890s.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Royal Spain - portraits of the Spanish Royal Family by Philip de László, 1910-27

Alfonso XIII - Alfonso León Fernando María Jaime Isidro Pascual Antonio de Borbón y Habsburgo-Lorena - King of Spain, 1927.
Queen Victoria Eugenie, née Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena of Battenburg, 1926.

De László, that incredibly prolific Hugarian, painted nearly all the crowned heads of Europe in his day. And the Spanish Royal Family certainly got more "coverage" than most. He painted King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie on several occasions, as well as the King's mother and the couple's six children. Though this royal "family unit" was often an unhappy and even tragic one - read much of their story here, in a previous post about the Queen - they are all glamorous and self-assured in these portraits, their troubles varnished over, invisible beneath de László's glorious brushwork.

Queen Victoria Eugenie, 1910.
Alfonso XIII, 1910.
Queen Victoria Eugenie, 1912.
Dowager Queen María Cristina, née Maria Christina Henriette Desideria Felicitas Raineria of Austria, mother of the King, 1910.
Queen Victoria Eugenie, 1920.
Alfonso XIII, 1927.
Queen Victoria Eugenie, 1927.
Queen Victoria Eugenie, 1927. (Sketch for the above portrait.)
Alfonso, Príncipe de Asturias - Don Alfonso Pío Cristino Eduardo Francisco Guillermo Carlos Enrique Eugenio Fernando Antonio
Venancio de Borbón y Battenberg - at twenty, 1927.
Alfonso, Príncipe de Asturias, 1927.
Infante Jaime, Duque de Segovia, later duc d'Anjou - Don Jaime Leopoldo Isabelino Enrique Alejandro Alberto Alfonso Víctor Acacio
Pedro Pablo María de Borbón y Battenberg - at nineteen, 1927.
Infanta Beatriz - Doña Beatriz Isabel Federica Alfonsa Eugénie Cristina Maria Teresia Bienvenida Ladislàa de Borbón y
Battenberg - later Principessa di Civitella-Cesi, at eighteen, 1927.
Another portrait of Infanta Beatriz, 1927.
Infanta María Cristina - Doña María Cristina Teresa Alejandra María de Guadalupe María de la Concepción Ildefonsa Victoria
Eugenia de Borbón y Battenberg - later Contessa Marone, at sixteen, 1927.
Infante Juan, Conde de Barcelona - Don Juan Carlos Teresa Silverio Alfonso de Borbón y Battenberg - at fourteen, 1927.
Infante Gonzalo - Don Gonzalo Manuel María Bernardo Narciso Alfonso Mauricio de Borbón y Battenberg - at thirteen, 1927.


I spend a ridiculous amount of time gathering and prepping images for this blog. Early on, I wasn't quite so fastidious. But I quickly became more and more obsessive about the size and quality of the images; I am a visual artist after all. So I hunt and hunt, comparing the different versions of the same painting or photograph that are to be found - uncovered; it's often real detective work! - to try and get the fullest image - so many one finds are cropped - in the largest size and the best quality. And then I spend a lot of time with any necessary Photoshopping, sizing the images and cleaning them up, adjusting the color and sharpness, trying to get the very best version I can; I know how often my own paintings have been badly reproduced so, honestly, I feel a lot of responsibility to the artists whose work I'm presenting.

I see a lot of odd things out there on the internet; the various and varied filters of reproduction often do crazy things to a work of art. I thought the portrait of Infante Jaime was a particularly perverse example of this. I was lucky to find the two following images - fairly large, clear, and detailed - and then realized that they were actually the same portrait. I've examined them very, very closely, and they are the same painting; there's no way that anyone could have copied every brushstroke so exactly. And it's also clear to me that the first one is a color reproduction, not a black and white photograph of the painting tinted with color. So how is it even possible that these two are so different - and where did the red go? If I hadn't seen the second image, I'd have thought the uniform jacket was grey. The obvious defect in the second image was that the background had been so darkened that all the detail there was lost; the cast shadow behind the figure is indiscernible and the signature almost so. Neither version was really acceptable, so I melded the two images together. I hope this is something much more like what the great de László produced; for accuracy's sake, and because it's a wonderful painting.