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, May 21, 2017

Religious and historical flesh, allegorical flesh - a selection of paintings by Guido Cagnacci

Maddalena Svenuta (The Fainting Magdalene), 1663.

I made a post about this wonderful artist not too long ago having, at the time, just "discovered" him. Two David and Goliaths, two versions using the same pose and the same model. Here are further examples of his work. He certainly has a way with depicting flesh and, more specifically, he's a virtuoso of the breast...!

The Death of Cleopatra, 1658.
The Drunken Noah, circa 1650.
The Death of Cleopatra, circa 1645-55.
The Death of Lucretia, 1657.
Saint Jerome, circa 1659.
Allegory of Time (or of Life), circa 1650.
David With the Head of Goliath, circa 1650. (One of the two paintings I featured in the previous post; I find this version ravishing.)
The Death of Lucretia, circa 1657.
The Death of Lucretia, circa 1660.


The Penitent Magdalene, circa 1660-63. Certainly Cagnacci's masterpiece, I think this is quite a remarkable painting.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Princess Louise, Duchess of Connaught - photographed by Lafayette, 18 December 1907

Princess Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn (born Luise Margarete Alexandra Viktoria Agnes; 25 July 1860, Potsdam – 14 March 1917, London), German princess, later a member of the British royal family as the wife of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.

Then, as now, retouching of official images was almost de rigeur, and not always terribly subtle. Though the Duchess had a graceful enough
figure in reality, it's quite obvious that her waist and hips have been slimmed down, here - whittled away - to give her a narrower silhouette.

The fourth child and fourth daughter of a reportedly sadistic father, Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, she married Prince Arthur, the seventh child and third - and favorite - son of Queen Victoria, at St. George's Chapel Windsor. The Duchess of Connaught spent much of the first twenty years of her marriage accompanying her husband on his various deployments throughout the British empire. The couple also frequently represented Great Britain and the British royal family at important foreign events, including the coronation of Nicholas II in 1896. She accompanied her husband when her husband served as the Governor General of Canada from 1911 to 1916.

The Duke and Duchess acquired Bagshot Park in Surrey as their country home in 1880, and after 1900 used Clarence House as their London residence. The couple had three children; their eldest, Margaret, married the future King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and, though she died young, the present King of Sweden and the Queens of Denmark and Greece are among her descendants.

As with all the later photographs of her sister-in-law, Queen Alexandra, the Duchess' face has also been heavily retouched.

For many years, her husband maintained a liaison with Leonie, Lady Leslie, sister of Jennie Churchill, though remaining devoted to his wife; it's believed that the Duchess was aware of the relationship and even approved of it. The Duchess of Connaught died of influenza and bronchitis at Clarence House at the age of fifty-six, in the midst of World War I. (She became the first member of the British royal family to be cremated; her ashes were eventually buried at the royal burial ground, Frogmore.) Her husband survived her by almost twenty-five years.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Four self-portraits by Sean Cheetham

Detail of below.
Selfish, oil on panel, 12x9, 2013.
Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams, oil on paper, 10x8, 2011.
Self Portrait, oil on paper (?), 10x8, 2012.
Self Portrait, oil on paper, 10x8, 2011.

I have to admit that I don't have a lot of interest in his other work - hipster-y, punk-ish, grungy; rather what I'd expect, subject-wise, from someone of his age and milieu - but these are quiet, direct, and very "pure". And, any reservations aside, this guy can paint.


From his website:
Sean Cheetham was born in 1977 in San Francisco, studied at the College of San Mateo, in California, and earned a B.F.A. degree with honors from Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California. His paintings have been included in numerous significant exhibitions internationally including the National Portrait Gallery in London. He has a devoted following of collectors and art students that are inspired by his work and distinctive technique. Primarily a figurative painter, Sean is known for his technical prowess in achieving accuracy and harmony in his alla prima paintings which he credits to a deep understanding of drawing and his own system of mixing colors which he uses adeptly to govern shadows, midtones and highlights.  In addition to having an exceptional ability to understand, draw, and paint the human form, Cheetham’s selection of subjects typically in familiar urban scenes contributes a truthful and often raw spirit that makes his work distinctive and a contemporary testimony of our time.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fortuny. Delphos. Peplos.

Geraldine Chaplin in her mother's Delphos, 1979.

There are few garments more iconic, more treasured than Fortuny's "Delphos" and its variant "Peplos"; certainly no garment more collected and still worn. First appearing about 1907, they continued to be made until around 1950. Always more "wearable art" than fashion, since their "rediscovery" in the Seventies, they've become among the most desirable vintage garments, are avidly collected, and have garnered record prices at auction.

Natacha Rambova (Mrs. Rudolph Valentino), photograph by James Abbe, circa 1924.
Clarisse Coudert, wife of Condé Nast, circa 1919.
Nazimova, photographed by Wynn Richards for American Vogue, 1923.

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (11 May 1871, Granada – 3 May 1949, Venice), Spanish fashion and textile designer, artist, theatrical and lighting designer, born into a family of celebrated Spanish artists. Fascinated by textiles from childhood, by the first decade of the twentieth century, he was living with his paramour and muse, Henriette - they eventually married in 1918 - in a thirteenth-century Venetian palazzo, producing garments that Marcel Proust declared "faithfully antique but markedly original".

Lillian Gish, circa 1920s.
Same as above.
Actress and singer Régine Flory, Paris, 1910.
Same as above.
Dolores del Rio, photograph by George Hurrell, circa 1938-40.
Same as above.

He remains best known for his finely pleated Delphos dress and the similar, less common Peplos. The exact method of pleating was a closely guarded secret involving heat, pressure, and ceramic rods, and has never been successfully replicated. On both types of dresses, Murano glass beads are strung on a silk cord attached at the edge of each side seam. The beads serve a functional purpose as well as being decorative, as they weigh down the lightweight silk of the garment, subtly enhancing and flattering the human shape beneath.

Model, circa 1920.
Same as above.
Elsie McNeill Lee, Countess Gozzi, circa 1940.
Same as above. Countess Gozzi, a wealthy American businesswoman, took over the Fortuny Company at Fortuny's death in 1949.

The Delphos was a deliberate reference to the chiton of ancient Greece; designed to be worn with little in the way of undergarments, it was originally intended as a tea gown or as similarly informal clothing to be worn in the privacy of the home, but would eventually be seen more as evening wear. The gowns were often made with slight variations in length and shape. Some have sleeves, others have none. They were usually accessorized with block-printed ribbons and sashes, and were worn with all manner of silk and velvet scarves and cloaks, garments which utilized the rich and varied textiles Fortuny was also rightly famous for; an important inventor as well as designer, he also manufactured the pigments and dyes he used for his fabrics.

Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, 1975.
Charlotte, Lady Bonham Carter (in a Delphos she bought in Venice in 1922), photograph by David Montgomery, circa 1970s-80s.

The method of storage for Fortuny's pleated dresses was almost as revolutionary as the garment itself; twisted and coiled and popped into what resembled a small hatbox. At any rate, it was a method that worked remarkably well to preserve the artist's beautiful creations - and continues to do so.

Mrs. William Wetmore, photograph by Lusha Nelson. Originally published in Vogue, 15 December 1935.
Mrs. Selma Schubart (the sister of the photographer), photographed by Alfred Stieglitz, 1907.
Mai-Mai Sze, photograph by George Platt Lynes, 1934.