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, October 31, 2014

The most famous henna rinse

As I've mentioned before, Lucille Ball's career didn't really start to hit its stride until the mid-40s. She'd been making films since 1933 and had never managed to graduate to leading roles in A pictures. But things began to pick up with her move to MGM in 1943 and the studio's promotion of her as a wise-cracking glamour girl. And while her brief time at Hollywood's starriest studio gave no indication of what heights she'd reach in the next decade, it produced one very significant and lasting effect: after cycling through several hair colors in her career thus far - from natural brown to platinum blond - a bright, hennaed red would now be her permanent, soon to be iconic hue. It also happened to look spectacular in color; between her former nickname, "Queen of the B's", and her future one, "The First Lady of Television", Lucille Ball was known as "Technicolor Tessie".

Ziegfeld Follies, 1945.  (Three images.)
DuBarry Was a Lady, 1943.  (Seven images.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Useful things

For when you're feeling a little too warm:

A white Brussels Point de Gaze lace and blond tortoiseshell fan with the gold monogram AR, by Alexandre, Paris, circa 1890.

For when you're traveling:

Silver-gilt nécessaire de voyage in the Louis XVI style, each piece engraved with monogram NM within an escutcheon below a marquis' coronet, comprising a table mirror, a pair of three-light candelabra, three pairs of cut-glass perfume flagons with silver-gilt caps, three hair brushes, a pin box, and a pair of rectangular cloth brushes, in original fitted oak case, circa 1890.

For when you're just feeling a little blah:

Sapphire and diamond necklace, by Mellerio dits Meller, formerly in the collection of Princess Marie Bonaparte, Princess George of Greece and Denmark, and then of her daughter, Princess Eugénie of Greece and Denmark, circa 1870.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

View of the Gardens of Villa Medici, by Michel Martin Drolling, 1811-16


Michel Martin Drolling (7 March 1789, Paris – 9 January 1851, Paris), French history and portrait painter. The son of Martin Drolling and the brother of Louise-Adéone Drolling, he studied first with his father, and after 1806 with Jacques-Louis David. He won the Prix de Rome in 1810. Elected a member of Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1837, he became an influential teacher at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Three celebrated actresses, three celebrated theatrical images

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, by John Singer Sargent, 1889.
Sarah Bernhardt in Victorien Sardou's Gismonda, by Alfons Mucha, 1894.
Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1789.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Friederike Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt, with her son, the future Friedrich Wilhelm III, by Therbusch, 1775

I think this a great big mess of a painting, but rather delightful nonetheless.

Friederike Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt (16 October 1751, Prenzlau – 25 February 1805, Berlin), the second wife of Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, later King Friedrich Wilhelm II. Born the daughter of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, and Caroline of Zweibrücken, she married in 1769, immediately after her new husband's first unhappy marriage was dissolved. Friedrich Wilhelm's second marriage was no more successful, as he again proved wildly unfaithful; he began a liaison with a sixteen-year-old that same year, a relationship which would continue for twenty-eight years, until his death. Though that didn't hinder him from twice bigamously marrying, successively, ladies-in-waiting to his own wife.

Friederike Luise was considered unattractive and described as very eccentric. It was claimed that she saw ghosts and spirits, and that she therefore took to sleeping by day and waking during the night, a behavior that only worsened after the death of her husband in 1797. But she was also known for her generosity and her kindness to those in need.

A year after Friedrich Wilhelm's death, the Crown Princess of Sweden, visiting the Dowager Queen of Prussia at the Monbijou Palace in Berlin (now destroyed), describer her thus:

She is a small, very fat, middle age lady, who walks so crooked that she looks like an old woman. You could mistake her for one of these fairies from an ancient tale. She is very polite and talkative and shines of a goodness which gives the witness of a kind heart and a noble character.

She died of a stroke seven years later at the age of fifty-three.

The future Friedrich Wilhelm III


Anna Dorothea Therbusch (23 July 1721, Berlin - 9 November 1782, Berlin), notable Prussian painter of the Rococo period. She was the daughter of Georg Lisiewski, a successful portrait painter of Polish heritage. She and her siblings were taught by their father, and Anna and her sister were considered artistic prodigies. But she would eventually marry an innkeeper and give up painting in order to help her husband in the business. At the age of thirty-nine, though, she considered her spousal obligations met, and left her family to resume her painting career.

She soon found success at the court of Duke Karl Eugen in Stuttgart, and by 1762 she had become an honorary member of the Stuttgart Academy of the Arts. Three years later, she went to Paris, where the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture displayed her work. She became close friends with the philosopher Denis Diderot, even living with him for a time. Her time in Paris was not financially successful, though and, in debt, she returned to Berlin in 1769. There, she worked at the court of Frederick the Great, painting portraits and creating mythological scenes to decorate Frederick's new palace of Sanssouci. She died at the age sixty-one.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Portraits by Giuseppe Tominz

Leopold Liechtenberg Janežič, unknown date.

For some reason I can't quite figure, I love painters whose work combines great technical skill with frequently misunderstood perspective, lapses in drawing, wildly variable degrees of verisimilitude, etc. I've only recently "discovered" Giuseppe Tominz, but I find his paintings very interesting, and I think he's a very good example of those charmingly inconsistent artists whose work I find so fascinating.

Countess Cecilia d'Auersperg, 1822.
Valentino Valle and his daughter, between 1825 and 1828.
Three Ladies of the Moscon Family, 1829. As with the Mona Lisa, the two halves of the background landscape fail to line up.
Man in Ottoman Dress, circa 1840s - 1850s.
Pier Giacomo and Maria Leva, circa 1840.
Lady with Camellia, circa 1850.
The de Brucker Family, circa 1830.
Teresa Deperis Alimonda, circa 1839.
Dr. Frušić and his Family, circa 1835.
Self-portrait, 1826.