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

Friday, December 30, 2016

The perpetual embrace - portraits of Chang and Eng

Portrait by  Édouard-Henri-Théophile Pingret, 1836; the brothers were fifteen in that year.

Chang and Eng, the first "Siamese twins", are historical figures along the line of Napoléon or Cleopatra, Leonardo da Vinci or Joan of Arc; we know what they're famous for, even if we don't always know much more than that. I didn't want to go into their whole story - you can certainly read about them here, if you like - but I did want to share these few portraits of the brothers. Mainly because I was so pleasantly surprised to find them portrayed so respectfully. There's no sensationalism, very little exoticizing in these images, they're merely straightforward, dignified portraits. Instead of accentuating or caricaturing their ethnicity and disability, the two men are presented as educated and cultured young gentlemen. For the time and under the circumstances... remarkable.

Painting by an unidentified artist, British School, circa 1830s.
Miniature by an unidentified French or Dutch artist, circa 1835-36.
Lithograph based on the above painting, 1836. As is often the case with engravings, the image is reversed.
Colored lithograph of the brothers portrayed in less formal attire, circa 1830s.
Lithograph circa 1839. Eng is holding an open book which contains an illustration of the brothers.
Portrait by an artist only identified as "Irvine", 1830.
Engraving based on the above painting, 1830.
Colored lithograph of the brothers in more "exotic" garb, circa 1829.
Currier and Ives lithograph, 1860. The brothers are shown enjoying various activities, with vignettes of their respective wives and children.
A detail of the Pingret portrait.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A celebration of the season of "Weird" - this year's Christmas/holiday card

As I posted then, October saw the début of "City of Weird", the book that Gigi spent the last year and a half editing, illustrating, and designing the cover for. I was pretty sure the book would do well - we were all quite hopeful - but it's done even more spectacularly than we ever could have imagined. Already in its third printing, its "Weird Tales" cover design inspiration seemed the perfect inspiration for our own holiday card. Since G and I now alternate the creative duties for this yearly duty, and since this was her turn to take on the task, it seemed only natural that she would keep "working the theme". I think it turned out brilliantly! A boyish G, a girlish me, and Nicholas; what else could we need? Happy holidays - of whatever persuasion - to you all! xo

Friday, December 23, 2016

Random families, random family portraits

A Family Portrait (Czechoslovakian), by Alois Spulak, circa 1840s.

I adore family portraits, the suave and the crude. I love how they tell us so much about the individual personalities and about the group dynamic. Or they don't; how many false narratives are memorialized in these spare or crowded compositions? And how is character - false or genuine - revealed? Are we more likely to find the truth in the work of a very accomplished artist, the one whose technique is completely secure, who has the ability to capture a likeness, to accurately describe space and surfaces? Or should we put more faith in the naïve or less skilled painter, whose real struggle just to get things right, might diminish the likelihood of gross flattery or any calculated revision of the way the family members relate to each other? With old portraits we rarely know much if anything about the true story of these family relationships. But it's "story" and "relationship" that come down to us, anyway. Whether truth or obfuscation, the stories of these nonetheless real people continue to play out, to reach out to us. In paint and in two dimensions.
Mr. and Mrs. James Blew and Their Three Children, attributed to Johan Zoffany and Studio, circa 1770s.
A Musician and His Family (thought to be composer Fernando Sor, his wife, and son), French School, circa 1810s.
Family Portrait, by Gillis van Tilborgh, circa 1665.
Family Portrait of a Merchant, Russian School, circa 1870s.
Everhard Jabach and His Family, by Charles Le Brun, circa 1660s.
Portrait of the Foerster Family, by Emil Foerster, circa 1856.
Portrait of Ferdinand Bergmüller and His Family, by Franz Schrotzberg, 1845.
The duc and duchesse d'Orléans and their children, French School, before 1842. (This odd little portrait is painted on tin.)
Madame Mercier Surrounded by Her Family, by Jacques Dumont, 1731.
Family Portrait (the artist, his wife, and two daughters, Feodor Petrovich Tolstoy, 1830.
Bloomsbury Family (the painter William Nicholson, his wife Mabel, and children), by William Orpen, 1907.
John Coakley Lettsom with His Family, in the Garden of Grove Hill, Camberwell, unknown artist, 1786.
Family Portrait, French or Italian School, circa 1800-1810.
Family Group (the artist and his family), by Frederick R. Spencer, 1840.
Franz von Lenbach mit Frau Lolo und den Töchtern Marion und Gabriele (the artist, his wife, and daughters), by Franz von Lenbach, 1903.
Joseph Moore and His Family, by Erastus Salisbury Field, 1839.
The Family of Sir Robert Vyner, by John Michael Wright, 1673.
The Bennett Family, by Samuel Woodforde, exhibited 1803. (Such an active family; the youngest has fallen asleep...!)
A Family Portrait in an Interior, by Francesco Pascucci, 1790.
The Comte de Chabaud-Latour and His Family, by Jacques-Luc Barbier-Walbonne, 1806.
My Uncle Daniel and His Family, by Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta, 1910.
Portrait of the Artist and His Family, Andries van Bochoven, 1629.
Gabriel Joseph de Froment, Baron de Castille, his wife Princess Hermine Aline Dorothée de Rohan, and family, unknown artist, before 1825.
The Imperial Family of Japan, unknown artist, 1900.
Baron Cerrini with his Family, by Johann Fischbach, 1832.
The Family of the Painter Adalbert Trillhaase, by Otto Dix, 1923.
David George van Lennep and Family, by Antoine de Favray, circa 1769-71.