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, September 30, 2022

La Grande inconnue - a photograph by Norman Parkinson, circa 1948


I think it a great shame that the model in this elegant and wonderfully over-the-top portrait-that-isn't-really-a-portrait has to remain anonymous. Mistakenly identified as Parkinson's wife, Wenda, on several sites, the National Portrait Gallery, which owns the print, only labels her an "unknown sitter", followed by the evocative but completely unexplained title "Time's Glass - Age of Experience". (I haven't been able to find any further mention of that latter reference anywhere.) But I'd love to discover the identity of this very grand - whether or not the quality is genuine or only expertly manufactured - grande dame.

The only other shred of information I've managed to gather is that the photograph's setting is the library at Osterley Park.


Already an update! Thanks to the generous attention of an intrepid reader of this blog, I now know that the photograph was taken to be included in an article in the August 1948 issue of British Vogue, and the previously opaque reference on the NPG's site - "Time's Glass - Age of Experience" - has been deciphered. "Time's Glass" was the title of the article, and "Age of Experience" the title of the specific image. My kind reader also related that there seemed to be a companion photograph on a preceding page entitled "Age of Elegance", but neither of us have been able to find an image of it. An original copy of the pertinent issue is currently for sale on Ebay - for ₤225.00! - and the seller included this tantalizing/frustrating glimpse of the image in context.

It really would have been nice to be able to read the entire description....

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The power in turning away - portraits of the female profile

Eugénie Ritter, by Benjamin-Constant, 1903. 
Une femme de chez nous au cheveux crépus (A local woman with curly hair), by Takou D’Assié, circa 2020.
Portrait of a Lady in Red, Florentine School, circa 1460-70.
Portrait of Woman Turned, by Coolidge Ozaki, circa 1942-45.
The Orchid, by Fujishima Takeji, 1926.
Woman or goddess, nicknamed “La Parisienne”, from the western wing of the palace at Knossos, circa 1350 BCE.
Portrait of a Woman in Profile, Turned to the Left, by William Sommer, 1890.
Study of the Head of a Young Woman in Profile, by Matthijs Maris, 1855.
Medallion, double portrait of the artist and her lover Nesta Obermer, also called the "YouWe" painting, by Gluck, 1936.
Profile Portrait of a Lady, American School, circa 1835-40.
Tomb wall depicting Queen Nefertari, consort of Rameses II, circa 1298-1235 BCE.
Portrait Study in Profile, by Marion L. Pooke, circa 1911.
Head in Profile, by Emil Nolde, 1919.
Profilo di donna, by Charles Lefèbvre, nineteenth century.
Profile Portrait of a Woman to the Left, unknown pastellist, circa 1800-20.
Supposed posthumous portrait of Cleopatra VII of Egypt, from Herculaneum, circa first century AD.
Profile of an Italian Woman by Mary Cassatt, 1873.
Portrait of a Young Woman, by Sofonisba Anguissola, circa 1580s.
A Young Woman, by Friedrich von Amerling, 1834.
Noia Tangerina (Girl from Tangiers), by Josep Tapiró i Baró, circa 1900-10.
Portrait of a Young Girl, by Philip Wilson Steer, 1932.
Classical Head in Profile, by William Hoare, circa second half of the eighteenth century.
Profil de femme au chignon (Profile of a woman with a chignon), by Pablo Picasso, 1904.
Nanna, Profile to Right, by Anselm Feuerbach, 1864.
Profile of a Blonde Woman on a Blue Background, by Francis Picabia, circa 1941-1942.
Portrait of Lady Vivien, by Konstantin Makovsky, 1900.
Portrait of a Lady in Profile, by Carel Fabritius, 1654.
Head of a Woman Seen in Profile, by Bartolomeo Passarotti, circa second half of the sixteenth century.
Profile of a Woman, by Fujishima Takeji, 1926-27.
Profile of a Young Woman, by Giovanni Boldini, circa 1880s (?).
Portrait of a Young Woman in Profile with a Mask in her Right Hand, by Giambattista Piazzetta, circa 1720-30.
Porträtt av Ung Kvinna i profil (Portrait of young woman in profile), by Emilie Mundt, circa 1880s.
Profile Portrait of a Young Lady, by Piero del Pollaiuolo, circa 1465.
Young Girl in Profile, by Alexei Alexeevich Harlamoff, circa 1880s.
Blackfoot Woman, by Joseph Henry Sharp, 1905.
Profile of a woman, India, Delhi, circa first half of the nineteenth century.
Rembrandt’s Mother, by Jan Lievens, circa 1629.
Bathsheba, by Philip Wilson Steer, circa 1919-21.
Profile of a Nubian Girl, by Franz Xavier Kosler, before 1905.

Friday, September 23, 2022

But, then, wasn't all mankind created from clay? - bust of Giuliano de' Medici by Verrocchio, circa 1475-1478

Since 1937 in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, which describes the history of the portrait thusly:

Verrocchio, a favorite artist of the Medici, may have created this lively and commanding portrait on the occasion of a joust that took place in 1475 in Florence for Giuliano de' Medici's coming of age. The bust was originally painted and possibly adorned with a metal helmet and other decoration, projecting an exuberance especially evident in the winged face modeled on Giuliano's fanciful armor. The beloved younger brother of the de facto ruler of Florence, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giuliano was destined for an important future, a hope cut off by his dramatic murder during mass in Florence's cathedral, on April 26, 1478, in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Medici rule.

Also in the National Gallery is Botticelli's portrait of Giuliano de' Medici; circa 1478-80, it was likely created posthumously. Supporting that theory is the open window and mourning dove, artistic devices which were common symbols of death, alluding to the flight of the soul and the deceased's passage to the afterlife.