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, June 30, 2014

Sketches of Redouté and Serangeli, by Louis-Léopold Boilly, 1798

Pierre-Joseph Redouté (10 July 1759, Saint-Hubert, Belgium – 19 June 1840, Paris), Belgian painter and botanist, perhaps the most important and celebrated painter of flowers of all time; he was nicknamed "The Raphael of flowers", and his botanical illustrations have been widely reproduced. Early in his career, he was appointed court artist to Marie Antoinette, but it was under the patronage of the Empress Joséphine, as her official artist, that he completed his greatest work and achieved his greatest fame.

Joseph Joachim Serangeli ( 1768, Rome - 12 January 1852, Turin), Italian artist who worked in the Neoclassical style, painting historical and mythological subjects and portraits. In 1790, he went to Paris and began his training at the Academy, three years later joining the studio of David. He opened his own studio in 1805, and completed several important commissions under the Empire. He divided his time between France and Italy, but two years after the fall of Napoléon, he returned permanently to Italy, where he eventually worked at the court of Savoy.


Louis-Léopold Boilly (5 July 1761, La Bassée – 4 January 1845, Paris), French painter and draftsman. Also an adept portrait painter, he is best known for the prodigious number of genre paintings he produced which vividly document French middle-class social life of the times. His life and work spanned several of the most dramatic eras in French history, from the ancien régime, through the Revolution and the First Empire, and through to the rule of the second king of the Bourbon Restoration, Charles X.

These sketches were only two of many that Boilly made in preparing his group portrait of 1798, Réunion d'artistes dans l'atelier d'Isabey, which depicts many of the young artists then living in Paris, gathered together in the painter Isabey's studio.

The finished portraits of Redouté and Serangeli can be seen at far left and far right, respectively.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Prince Albert and the Blue Room, Windsor Castle

When Prince Albert was taken with the illness that would all too soon prove fatal, he was moved from the bedroom he shared with the Queen and put into the Blue Room, which was made into his sickroom. Adjoining the White Drawing Room, one of the grand salons of Windsor Castle's Private Apartments, the Blue Room was named for the blue silk damask wall coverings and matching curtains which hung there.

Albert, the Prince Consort, on his deathbed.

After the death of Prince Albert, at ten minutes to eleven, on the evening of December 14th, 1861, Queen Victoria ordered that nothing in the room would be changed, that it would remain a shrine to his memory. Fresh flowers and memorial wreaths were kept in the room at all times.  But also, his dressing gown and fresh clothes were laid out each evening on his bed, and a jug of steaming hot water was placed on his washstand.  Even the glass from which he had taken his last dose of medicine was kept on the table beside his bed.  And on his writing table, his pen rested upon his open blotting book, always ready for the grasp of the Prince's fingers.  All remained in this suspended state for more than forty years.

The ceiling was painted with angels and stars after Prince Albert's death, but otherwise everything remained as it had been during his last hours.
This watercolor and the one above are by William Corden the Younger (1819-1900), 1868.

By the end of the nineteenth century, though, the fabric furnishings had become faded and frayed - even rotted - and needed to be replaced. During the Queen's absence, and carried out in the greatest secrecy, the hangings were replaced with new silk that had been carefully faded to match the originals. This subterfuge was attempted with the hopeful knowledge of Queen Victoria's greatly diminished eyesight; thankfully for all, she never noticed. After her son succeeded her, as Edward VII, he had the room completely redecorated to serve as his study.

The poor state of the room's fabrics prior to the refurbishment can be assessed by that of the silk covering of the bedstead.


The bust of the Prince by Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-68) was placed in the room; Marochetti also sculpted both
of the beautiful funeral effigies of the Prince Consort and the Queen that lie in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sterling Hayden - more than beefcake

I find Sterling Hayden a fascinating actor and a fascinating man.  As an actor, he has a quality - like many of the most interesting actors - of sometimes seeming to not be acting at all, or even to not know how to act, and then he'll just take off - like his bravura scenes in Doctor Strangelove - and completely blow you away.  And I think I find him even more interesting as a person.  And as a writer.

His autobiography, Wanderer, is one of the most brilliant, memorable books I've ever read.  Nothing like any kind of a movie star memoir, the writing is completely audacious and sometimes shockingly, personally honest.  Told in flashback and flashforward, with a recklessly poetic use of language and bold shifts in tense - and from first person, to second, to third - he tells his story in the context of his experiences of the great masted sailboats - the great passion of his life - and his constant longing for that life, a life of ships and the ocean.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone, even to those, like me, who have no interest in boats or sailing; it's a book that deserves to be better known.

(Of course, he was also really good looking.)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Window in Sunlight, by Anton Dieffenbach, 1856

Anton Dieffenbach (4 February 1831, Wiesbaden - 29 November 1914, Hohwald), German landscape painter.  In childhood and as a young adult, he lived variously in Germany and France; he studied in Paris and later attended the art academy in Düsseldorf.  After 1880 he spent his summers in the village of Hohwald in the Vosges, where he died in 1914, at the age of eighty-three.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Philip de László, portraits of his five sons

Henry Guinness de László (1901-1967)

Circa 1906.


Stephen Philip de László (1904-1939) 
(He died at thirty-five of injuries from a car accident.)

In Spanish costume, 1919.
In Spanish costume, 1919.


Paul Leonardo de László (1906-1983)

As a young Bacchus, 1911.


Patrick David de László (1909-1980)



John Adolphus de László (1912-1990)

"The Temptation", 1919.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nathaniel Olds, by Jeptha Homer Wade, 1837

Wade painted Nathaniel Olds and his wife, Sarah Avery Olds, in 1837. Nathaniel wears the green-tinted glasses - for which his portrait, in the Cleveland Museum of Art, is so well known - apparently to protect his eyes from the extremely bright light of whale oil lamps, thought at the time to be harmful to one's eyesight.  Sadly, I've not been able to find any information about the sitters.

Wade's portrait of Mrs. Olds is certainly the less successful of the two, perhaps hinting that the dash of its pendant was just a charming fluke, and that the artist's subsequent change of profession was not ill-advised.


Jeptha Homer Wade (11 August 1811, Romulus, New York – 9 August 1890, Cleveland), American industrialist, philanthropist, and one of the founding members of Western Union Telegraph. He made the first Daguerreotypes west of New York, and was a portrait painter in his youth, before moving to Michigan in 1840 and developing an interest in the telegraph. He later used his great wealth to benefit his adopted home city of Cleveland.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Owe Zerge - selected paintings, circa 1919-1948

I hesitate to post these images because of the "questionable" subject matter. The question, of course, is what was the artist's intent in these images of young boys, often nude? And in art, generally, when does the depiction of youthful beauty cross the line and become something else? At what point does the non-graphic nude depiction of a child become exploitive? How old does a young person have to be before they are "safe" to portray naked: physically mature or emotionally mature or statutorily mature? Is the nude figure in contemporary art inherently a sexual object, or does the relative age of the sitter influence that perception? In an era that is over-sexualized, in general - in both the Arts and in our culture - how do we make these sometimes subtle distinctions?

Owe Zerge (1894, Oppmanna - 1983, Kristianstad), Swedish painter. Between 1914 and 1915 he studied at the Althin Målarskola in Stockholm, and then enrolled at the Royal Swedish Academy of Art, where he remained until 1919. The following year he traveled in France and Italy, and he won an honorable mention at the Paris Salon of 1921. By the late Twenties he had settled near his birthplace, building a studio in the village of Arkelstorp, near Kristianstad. He painted a wide variety of subject matter - it appears he made the majority of his livelihood with portraiture - but his paintings and drawings of boys are a large part of his oeuvre.