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

Monday, September 30, 2013

My favorite Vermeer - Girl With a Red Hat, 1665-66, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Still lifes by Baron de Meyer

Baron Adolph Edward Sigismond de Meyer (1 September 1868 - 6 January 1946)

Hydrangea, ca.1908

Water Lilies, ca. 1906

Glass and Shadows, ca.1909

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two spectacular Pre-Raphaelite deaths

Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, 1851-2

The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis, 1856

Alexander Roslin - "Marie Emilie Boucher", 1779

A beautifully realized portrait.  His execution of the white satin gown and pink satin ribbons is a master class in the rendering of that fabric.  Flawless.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A wedding exit

I know nothing about this photograph, but isn't this happy pair marvelous?  His faultless tailoring and the wonderfully extravagant pretensions of her couturier have conspired with Nature - and the photographer - to create the most glamorously windswept post-nuptial descent.

Fearless color, compulsive detail - Frederick Sandys

Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys (born Antonio Frederic Augustus Sands), (1 May 1829 – 25 June 1904), one of the English Pre-Raphaelites.

Mary Margaret

 Isolde and the Love Potion


Mary Magdalene
Grace Rose

Helen of Troy


Mary Magdalene



Friday, September 27, 2013

Queen Hedwig's wedding dress

Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp (22 March 1759 – 20 June 1818), Queen of Sweden and Norway.  Married in 1774 at the age of fifteen to the future King Charles XIII and II.

The future queen Hedwig in her wedding gown, 1774, portrait by Alexander Roslin.
The original gown; the engageants and other lace trim have been removed.
Cloth of silver, silver embroidery, silver lace.

Arkhip Kuindzhi - the greenest green....

A selection of paintings by the Russian landscape artist Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi, (January 27, 1842(?) – July 24, 1910)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jérôme-Martin Langlois (Paris, March 11, 1779 - Paris, December 28, 1838), "Portrait of the Comte de M.", 1831

One of my favorite paintings at the Portland Art Museum.  The subject has such character; his smiling eyes and the way his lower lip tucks in under the upper is so charming, touching somehow.  And he looks ready to speak to the viewer - the voice would be basso, certainly, with a rumbling, rolling French.

Pauline Astor by John Singer Sargent, 1898

And the Dog?  Sargent's portraits are usually so seriously glamorous; there isn't much humor to be found in his work.  But then there's this charming little Spaniel, and the bright gaze and tight chin of its mistress, who looks to be stifling a laugh.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stealing Ideas From Ingres, or: The Harem, Redecorated

Two years ago I finished a painting I'd started nine years before and then abandoned.  "Le Fumeur - after Ingres".  It was based on Ingres' famous "Grande Odalisque" of 1814 that resides in the Louvre.  The model for my painting, a good friend, posed for the preparatory photographs back in 2002.   

I didn't want to reproduce the original Orientalist details, so I came up with a vaguely Fin de siècle decor; Fabergé-style enameled cigarette case and matchbox, Art Nouveau silver and enamel vase.  And since my friend was quite the smoker, I used that to my advantage, replacing the original's waft of incense with the more pedestrian trail of drifting cigarette smoke.  Oh, and the cigarette butts....

Le Fumeur - After Ingres - acrylic on panel - 14x22 - 2002-11

Personnes royales, en privées....

Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese, at the Château de Neuilly

The Empress Eugénie in her study at the Tuileries by Giuseppe Castiglione

"Le Cabinet de travail du roi Louis-Philippe à Neuilly", 1845 by James Roberts

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Portrait de jeune homme en buste, by Henri-Pierre Danloux (or the circle of)

Maria Isabel de Bragança, Infanta of Portugal, Queen of Spain - by Vicente López y Portaña, circa 1816-18

Maria Isabel Francisca de Bragança (19 May 1797 – 26 December 1818), Infanta of Portugal, Queen of Spain as the second wife of Ferdinand VII.  She was the major force behind the founding of what came to be the Museo del Prado.  She died, horrifically, in childbirth at the age of twenty-one, a year before the museum opened to the public.

"Maria Isabel of Portugal in front of the Prado" by Bernardo López y Piquer (1799-1874), 1829.  This portrait was painted eleven years after the queen's 
death, and commemorates her important involvement in the founding the Museo del Prado.  The artist obviously used the portrait by López y Portaña -  
who was López y Piquer's father - as the model for the deceased queen.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Contessa Anastasia Spini by Giovanni Carnovali

A portrait of Contessa Anastasia Spini by Giovanni Carnovali - called il Piccio - 1838/40

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sapphires and emeralds - new and "previously owned" merchandise

As Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (the "younger") prepared for her 1908 wedding to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland, her father, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, ordered a magnificent sapphire and diamond parure from Cartier.  This included a tiara, corsage ornament, and necklace.  The necklace can be seen in the photographs below where, since married, the then Duchess of Södermanland is wearing Swedish court dress.  (The black velvet of the court robes was a convenient camouflage; the duchess was pregnant at the time with her son, Lennart, who was born in 1909.)  The marriage was unhappy and they divorced in 1914.  I don't know the eventual fate of this parure.  Most likely, like her more famous emeralds, she was forced to sell them, while living in exile after the revolution .  Most likely, they were subsequently dismantled and used for other less prestigious adornments.



At that time of the commission, Grand Duke Paul was living in exile in Paris with his second - and morganatic - wife and their three children.  His first wife, Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna, née Princess Alexandra of Greece, died giving birth to their son, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.  Because of the scandal of the affair with and subsequent marriage to Olga, madame von Pistohlkors (later Countess Hohenfelsen, later Princess Paley), they were forced to leave Russia, and Maria and Dmitri were left in the care of Paul's brother, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, the great beauty and sister of Tsaritsa Alexandra, Grand Duchess Elisaveta Feodorovna.  After the assassination of her husband in 1905 Grand Duchess Elisaveta decided to become a nun.  In preparation for this great transformation and in order to help pay for the establishment of a convent, she gave much of her celebrated jewelry to relatives and sold the rest.  One of the pieces she gave to her ward, Maria Pavlovna, was a necklace of diamond links.  It can be seen below in a photograph of Grand Duchess Elisaveta and, again, in the third and forth pictures above, worn above Maria Pavlovna's sapphire necklace.


As for the "more famous emeralds", these were also given to her by her aunt.  A tiara and necklace, and perhaps other pieces that I haven't seen documented.  The central section of the necklace could be detached and worn as a brooch, as it most often was.  I've never seen a photograph of the Grand Duchess Elisaveta wearing the tiara but, like most large and "important" jewels, sections could be detached and used in other ways.  The large diamond-ringed cabochon emeralds from the tiara are visible as "buttons" down the front of her court gown in the first image below, and as ornamentation for her traditional kokoshnik in the second two.

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, divorced, back in Russia, and photographed wearing the tiara and necklace.

After escaping revolutionary Russia, Maria Pavlovna found refuge in Roumania, where her flamboyant first cousin, Marie, was queen.  In the depths of World War I, Queen Marie had sent her jewelry to her ally Russia for safekeeping.  An unwise decision as it turned out; before the war was even over, the revolution in Russia had broken out, and the victorious Bolsheviks were not at all inclined to return her jewels.  Having three daughters approaching a marriageable age, and with an outsized love of adornment, herself, she set about buying up a large portion of the jewelry that her near relatives, newly exiled, were so eager to sell.  Queen Marie purchased the tiara and necklace to give to her daughter who was soon to marry King Alexander of Yugoslavia; "Mignon", as she was called in the family, wore the necklace pinned to the neckline of her gown on her wedding day.  (I should mention that I've also read that it was the King, himself, who bought the emeralds for his bride.  I'm not certain which story is accurate.)

Subsequently, the necklace was broken up and the stones reused to create a heavy sautoir by Cartier.

 Both necklace and tiara were later sold.  I don't know the fate of the necklace, but the tiara still exists in the collection of Van Cleef & Arpels.  The emeralds have been replaced with paste copies.