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, June 28, 2015


Jupiter Disguised as Diana Seducing Callisto, by Gerrit van Honthorst, circa 1625-1650.

I have a blog-post folder and several sub-folders on my computer. As I flounce about the internet, whenever I find an image, anything I find beautiful or intriguing, I copy it - if I can - and toss it into one of my blog-related folders. Perhaps you can guess where this acquisitiveness has led me. The folders are now very full. So full that I have ever more difficulty finding, sorting things. Difficulty seeing the visual or thematic threads that I would gather together to make up a post. So, along with better organizing - yet more sub-folders - from now on, every so often I'll try and do a bit of theme-less, story-less sharing. These, then, are some images I really enjoy. That is all!

The Marriage of Napoléon I and Marie Louise, 2 April 1810, by Georges Rouget, 1811.
Miniature by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, circa late 1780s.
Photograph identified as being taken in Tokyo during the Thirties.
Mirza Abu'l Hassan Khan, Ambassador for the Shah of Persia, by William Beechey, 1809 or 1810.
Portrait of a Young Woman, by Giovanni Battista Moroni, circa 1560s-70s.
Irina Alexandrovna, Princess Yusupova, by Edward Steichen, 1924.
Lydia Pickering Williams, by Gilbert Stuart, 1824.
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, Catalina, 1939.
Elisabeth Farnese, Princess of Parma and Queen of Spain, by Jean Ranc, 1723.
The Surprise, by Claude-Marie Dubufe, before 1827.
The Guitarist, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1757.
Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, by William Beechey, 1818.
Michèle Morgan, circa 1941.
Jean-Louis Buisson-Boissier, by Jean-Étienne Liotard, circa 1762-66.
Carolina Grassi and Bianca Bignami, the sisters Gabrini, by Francesco Hayez,1835.
St. Petersburg (?), circa prior to 1914.
Louis-Philippe Refuses the Crown of Belgium, 17 February 1831, by Nicolas Gosse, 1836.
Miniature by Louis-Lié Périn-Salbreux, circa 1790s.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Sisters G

Publicity photograph for "God's Gift to Women", 1931.

During the Twenties and nudging a little ways into the Thirties there was a vogue for sister/twin dancing/singing/showgirl duos. Usually lavishly costumed and quite often sporting the dark, shellacked bob we've come to identify, almost exclusively, with Louise Brooks. Of course the legendary Hungarian-American identical twin Dolly Sisters were the first and most famous; they hit the Ziegfeld stage in 1911 at the age of eighteen. Their enormous popularity on both continents ensured that there would be similar acts joyfully following in their footsteps: the Pearl Twins, the Dodge Sisters, the Fairbanks Twins, even the Norwegian brothers who performed an outright impersonation of Rosie and Jenny Dolly and went by the name of the Rocky Twins. (With so may pairs of performers working the same look, when looking for images, it can be tough to tell one from the other.) Perhaps the best known "followers" of the twin Hungarians were Karla and Eleanor Gutchrlein, who performed as the Sisters G.

Photograph by Achille Volpe.

That said, I can tell you almost nothing about them. They appear to have been born in the Netherlands in 1910, twins but apparently not identical. They were billed as German in Hollywood, where they made one "short" and made appearances in four feature films in 1930 and 1931: King of Jazz, Recaptured Love, Kiss Me Again, and God's Gift to Women. With rapidly changing tastes in film during the period, musicals were suddenly out, and their lavish dance number in the last film was cut. With it, so too went the Gutchrlein's Hollywood career. Other than that, I haven't been able to find out anything. I really think that rather sad; we have to leave them at the age of twenty-one.

Photographed by Atelier d'Ora, this must have been taken before they came to America.
Likewise these two photographs from the Viennese Atelier Manassé.
An inscribed copy of the same photograph.
Again the same photograph, now used to publicize their first film "King of Jazz". Little if any of their bio is to be believed.
This and the following four images were also used as publicity for the film.
"King of Jazz" is an all-color - two-strip Technicolor - musical revue, starring popular bandleader Paul Whiteman and his orchestra.
The Sisters G are not included in the credits at the beginning of the film, but are featured in three musical numbers.
With Paul Whiteman.
In costume for "Kiss Me Again".  Like "King of Jazz", this film was originally shot in early two-strip Technicolor.
I have no idea what these images are about, but they look to have been reproduced in a periodical.
Two screen-shots from "God's Gift to Women", with (just visible at left) Louise Brooks, Frank Fay, and Joan Blondell.
Ironically, Louise Brooks - at far left - is sans her famous bangs; the Sisters G are more "Brooks" than Brooks.
Karla Gutchrlein in publicity for "God's Gift to Women"; she's wearing the same dress as above.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From my collection - Cartes de visite

Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and her husband, Prince Louis, later Grand Duke of Hesse.
(Actual size.)

A carte de visite was a type of small photograph patented in Paris in 1854 by photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri. (The same year, Disdéri also patented a method of taking eight separate negatives on a single plate, which reduced production time and costs.) Usually made with an albumen print, a carte de visite consisted of a thin paper photograph sized approximately two by three-and-a-half inches mounted on a card of two-and-a-half by four inches. Each photograph was therefore the size of a visiting card. By the end of the 1850s, besides being the most common form of photography for the general public, widely shared among family and friends, the great popularity of these photograph cards led to the publication of cartes de visite of royalty and other prominent persons, which were sold and collected. Albums for the collection and display of these cards - both private and commercially produced - became a common fixture in mid-Victorian era homes.

Princess Alice. The date printed on the image is exactly one year before her wedding day.

But their great popularity lasted little more than a decade. By the early 1870s, cartes de visite were being supplanted by "cabinet cards", which were also usually albumen prints, but of a larger size, and mounted on cardboard backs. Cabinet cards remained popular into the early twentieth century, when Kodak introduced the Brownie camera and amateur photography became a worldwide phenomenon. By that time commercially produced images of royalty and other well-know persons were being distributed as picture postcards, and they were purchased and collected in just the same way that cartes de visite had been previously. (My collection consists almost entirely of these postcards; the twelve images here were almost accidentally acquired and are all that I own.)

These scanned images show the photographs about two-and-a-half times the original size; I've added in a few of the same images at actual size for comparison. It amazes me the amount of detail contained within such a tiny format and how well they've survived after more than one hundred and fifty years.

This card is still attached to a portion of the album page it was pasted onto. As the original inscription states, this is the "Crown
Prince and Princess of Prussia, Princess Royal", the future Emperor Friedrich III of Germany and his wife Princess Victoria,
eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

On the back side of the album page was this image of Alice and Victoria's soon-to-be sister-in-law, Princess Alexandra of Denmark,
taken in 1862. As with the above image, this was inscribed "Princess of Wales" directly on the page, beneath the photograph.
(Actual size.)
Alexandra and her husband, the future Edward VII, on their wedding day, 10 March 1863.
Alexandra before her marriage, probably taken in 1862.
Alexandra, from a Danish card, taken prior to her marriage or produced to commemorate it.
(Actual size.)
Alexandra, Princess of Wales, 1866.
Another sister-in-law, Marie, Duchess of Edinburgh, wife of Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The photograph was taken some time before her marriage.
Marie, Duchess of Edinburgh, possibly around the time of her marriage in 1874. She was the only daughter of Tsar Alexander II.
The photographer, Bergamasco, was resident in Russia and much favored by the Imperial court.
The Empress Eugénie, taken soon prior to or soon after the fall of the French Second Empire. The card was produced in Belgium.
(Actual size.)
Napoléon, Prince Impérial, the only son of the Empress Eugénie and Emperor Napoléon III.
This image is the latest of the group, taken in 1878, the year before his death.


(I apologize for the rough cropping of most of these images. I forgot that the scanner likes to lop off the edges; I'll be more careful next time.)