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 19, 2019

Sober elegance - eight portraits by Veronese

Lavinia Vecellio, daughter of the painter Titian, circa 1560.
The architect Vincenzo Scamozzi, circa 1585.
Portrait of a Woman, circa 1560.
Portrait of a Man, circa 1560.
Countess Livia da Porto née Thiene with her daughter Deidamia, 1552.
Count Iseppo da Porto - husband of the above - with his son Adriano, 1551-52.
Portrait of a Woman "Bella Nani", circa 1557.
Portrait of a Man, circa 1576-78.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Her "Forgotten Man" - Joan Blondell in the finale to Gold Diggers of 1933

The best-known of the Gold Diggers series takes a radically serious turn in the final musical number which - in most prints - concludes the film, Busby Berkeley's famous "Remember My Forgotten Man". One of the film's stars, the delightful Joan Blondell, recites the song lyrics in the first part, while the featured vocalist Etta Moten subsequently takes up the song and actually sings it; Moten also reportedly dubbed Blondell's singing voice during the finale of the song.


On the set.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Orlov brothers - two equestrian portraits by Vigilius Eriksen, circa 1766

Count Grigori Grigorievich Orlov. The two paintings measure more than thirteen by eleven and a half feet.

These portraits by the Danish painter Vigilius Eriksen are of the two most celebrated of the five Orlov brothers. Count Grigori Grigorievich Orlov (1734–1783), pictured above in Roman costume, was a lover of the Empress Catherine the Great and one of her closest advisors; he fathered her illegitimate son, Alexei, born the same year as the coup d'état which deposed Catherine's husband and secured her place as sole ruler of Russia. Virtually her co-ruler for some years, he was supplanted by Grigori Potemkin in 1774.

Count Alexei Grigorievich Orlov.

Count Alexei Grigorievich Orlov (1737–1808), depicted in Turkish dress, was one of Catherine’s most important military and diplomatic leaders. The ablest of the Orlov brothers, he was integral to Catherine's plot to take power in 1762; some sources claim he participated in the resulting death of Peter III, that he conveyed the Emperor to Ropsha Palace and even participated in his murder, though the circumstances of Peter's death are much disputed.

In 1766, Catherine the Great ordered the first Russian "carousel," an exhibition of horseback riding, swordsmanship, and shooting then popular in all the great courts of Europe. While the event was repeated in subsequent years, no later celebration inspired as much artistic and literary creativity as the first; there are references to the event in the works of Casanova, Voltaire, and others, as well as numerous paintings and other works of art. These large equestrian portraits commemorate the prominent participation of the Orlov brothers, still the most influential figures at court. Eriksen was Catherine's court painter in the early years of her reign and is responsible for many of the best known images of the Empress.


The portraits hung in the Winter Palace until the death of the Empress in 1796. Paul I began his reign by clearing away any reference to his mother's long succession of lovers, and these paintings were shut up in warehouses for many years. Sent to the Court Stable Chancellery in 1827, during the reign of Nicholas I, they found their way to the Gatchina Palace six years later. During World War II, in advance of the Nazi occupation, there was a mass evacuation of the art treasures resident in the suburban palace-museums outside of St. Petersburg; it is likely these were part of that exodus. After the war, they were returned to the repository of art and furnishings held at the Pavlovsk Palace Museum and, in 1958, handed off to the Hermitage and stored in the Central Warehouse of Museum Holdings.

The two paintings in the early stages of restoration.

These paintings were stored in rolls for decades. This type of storage - where the painting is taken from the frame and then detached from its stretcher - is generally used as only a temporary, emergency measure, and is the result of a number of reasons, among which is the need to transport overly large paintings, or where there is the lack of space or the proper conditions for storing such works of art in any other manner. One way or another, these canvases had been languishing in this state probably since World War II. Previously only known from black and white reproductions - to the public and museum curators alike - they were finally unrolled less than a decade ago and have now been restored.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Freddie and Rita "rehearse" - publicity for "You Were Never Lovelier", 1942

The color photographs - taken on a studio roof - are credited to Earl Theisen.
The series of black and white photographs were taken by Johnny Florea.

Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth - both dancers from childhood - only made two pictures together, this was the second and final.