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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Vladimir Gaidarov

Vladimir Gaidarov (or Gajdarov; the spelling of his credited name varies widely; 25 July 1893, Poltava - 17 December 1976, St. Petersburg), prominent Russian, and Soviet actor, best known for his work in historical dramas, most of his film work was accomplished in Germany and France. At nineteen he went to study philosophy at Moscow University. While still a student there, in 1914 he began working with the Moscow Art Theatre; he would be engaged with the celebrated theatrical company for the next six years. In the first performance that he saw there, the Ophelia in Hamlet was played by Olga Gzovskaia, who would later become his wife. They remained together until her death in 1962.

He had his first film role in 1915, and film work would be an increasingly important part of his dramatic activity. In 1921, he and his wife left Russia and settled in Berlin, where there was then a large community of Russian émigré artists and performers. He went on the make more than thirty German and French films in the next decade, forming his own production company in 1930.

He and his wife returned to Russia in 1933 and settled in Leningrad. From 1938 to 1968 he was engaged at the Leningrad Pushkin Theatre and thereafter only appeared very rarely in films. He went on to be named People's Artist of the RSFSR in 1940, and was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1950.

Almost all of these images were taken during his time in Germany, 
where his name took on a more Germanic spelling.
In French film credits, his first name took the more usual "V", but he sometimes 
went by "Eugène", while Gaidarov was often spelled "Gaidaroff".

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Paintings by Wilhelm Bendz

A Smoking Party, 1827-28.

Wilhelm Ferdinand Bendz (20 March 1804, Odense - 14 November 1832, Vicenza), Danish painter mainly known for genre works and portraits which often portray his artist colleagues and their daily lives. He was one of the most talented of the artists who studied under Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, but he died early and therefore left a relatively small oeuvre.

At the age of sixteen he was sent to Copenhagen where he attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1820 to 1825, and where he studied under Eckersberg. In his last year there, he made an unsuccessful attempt to win the gold medal - which was only given to history paintings, the most prestigious genre at that time - and after that decided to specialize in the portraits and genre works for which he would be remembered.

After his graduation he participated at the annual exhibitions at Charlottenborg from 1826 to 1828, and was then employed as an assistant in Eckersberg's studio. There he painted copies of his master's work, and participated on projects such as the reconstruction of Abildgaard's history paintings at Christiansborg Palace which had been destroyed in the fire of 1794.

In 1830 Bendz received a travel scholarship which enabled him to study in southern Europe. After visiting Dresden and Berlin, he stopped for about a year in Munich, which was then a vibrant center for the arts. In the autumn of 1832 he continued his journey towards Rome, stopping in Venice, where he was reunited with Ditlev Blunck, a friend and fellow painter from his student days at the Academy in Copenhagen. They continued on together, but Bendz, who had fallen ill in Venice, died shortly after in Vicenza from a lung infection. He was twenty-eight.

Portrait of a Young Man, 1832.
Artists in the Evening at Finck's Coffee House in Munich, 1832.
Portrait of an Elderly Woman, 1832.
Interior from Amaliegade: Captain Carl Ludvig Bendz Standing and Dr. Jacob Christian Bendz Seated, 1829. (The models are Benz's brothers.)
Portrait of the Anatomist Henrik Carl Bang Bendz, 1829. (Another of the artist's brothers.)
A Young Artist [Ditlev Blunck] Examining a Sketch in a Mirror, 1826.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Three paintings by Cristofano Allori + 2

The Hospitality of St. Julien, circa 1615-1620.
The beautiful modeling of the faces and bodies of the three younger men - the warm, soft but precise light - and the way they are posed - the very
particular stance of the boatman, the tender way the barely covered pilgrim is held by the red-shirted young man - I find quite remarkably sensual.

Cristofano Allori (17 October 1577, Florence – 1 April 1621, Florence), Italian painter of the late Florentine Mannerist school whose work marks a transition to the early Baroque. He was the son of Alessandro Allori, and thus the "grand-nephew" of the great Bronzino. He received his first lessons in painting from his father, but later entered the studio of Gregorio Pagani, who was one of the leaders of the late Florentine school, which sought to unite the rich coloring of the Venetians with the Florentine attention to drawing. Much of Allori's output was in portraiture, and his often extreme fastidiousness meant that his oeuvre is small.

St. John the Baptist in the Desert. Date unknown.
Judith With the Head of Holofernes, circa 1610-1612.

He is best known for his much copied Judith With the Head of Holofernes. His seventeenth-century biographer claims that the model for the Judith was the artist's mistress, Maria Mazzafirri - La Mazzafirra - (died 1618) and that the elderly servant was posed by her mother, while the head of Holofernes is generally thought to represent the artist himself. Allori and La Mazzafirra - who posed for several of his paintings - reportedly had a very tumultuous relationship, and the Judith can be easily interpreted as a commemoration of their unhappy liaison and the artist's suffering.

There is something quite remarkable about this depiction of the beautiful, sensual face of La Mazzafirra. The caressing light, the direct, challenging gaze, the sense of impending movement in the mouth. That, along with the brilliant color of the whole and the deceptively calm grace with which it tells its dramatic story - Judith turning, leaning back slightly, her servant leaning forward - make it easy to understand why this painting has been so greatly admired from its first appearance more than four hundred years ago.


I should mention that Allori's Judith was painted right around the same time as Caravaggio's David With the Head of Goliath. Both employ a similar pose, and both are said to be a portrait of the artist's lover in the role of slayer - a favorite former studio assistant in the case of the Caravaggio - and a self portrait in the role of slayed.

David With the Head of Goliath, by Caravaggio, circa 1605-1610.


And I'd be no respectable completist if I didn't include my own Judith, my own nod to the particular pose and autobiographical content; both portraits are of the artist this go 'round. I have to say that I made no conscious reference to either of these paintings when conceiving mine, but I certainly knew of them and I must have pulled from that knowledge.

Judith et Holopherne, 2010.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays!

It's that time of the year again: the O'Donnell/Little Holiday Card reveal! G did the designing honors this year - the superheroes theme might have given you a clue that it probably wasn't a product of my aesthetic bag of tricks - but it turned out great, and I totally approve and think it's very fun. G did an especially great job comic-book-izing our faces... and creating a certain superhero dogbody! Oh, and you might notice that we didn't go with the expected gender reversal this time; when you mess with all that sort of thing as much as we do, it's almost radical to just... leave it alone!

Nicholas looks adorable in a cape, but I don't expect he'd be overfond of flight!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Self-portraits by Liotard

As I've mentioned previously, Liotard's time spent in the Ottoman Empire - from 1738 to 1743 - had a profound effect on his work and on his personal appearance. Much of his subsequent work, both genre scenes and portraits, feature European subjects dressed in Turkish attire, and his own very eccentric adoption of Oriental dress and a long beard earned him the nickname le peintre turc - the Turkish painter - as the inscription on the self-portrait below commemorates. (In 1757, at the age of fifty-four, he made a late marriage; his new wife did not appreciate his lavish beard, and he shaved.)

Circa 1731-33, some years before his visit to Constantinople.
Circa 1744-45.
Circa 1749-51.
Circa 1768.
Circa 1770.
Circa 1773, three years before he returned home to Geneva, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Circa 1782. The artist - at eighty, seven years before his death - has grown back his beard.