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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Eight ladies, two gentleman, one still life - paintings by Serge Ivanoff

Portrait of a Woman, 1944. (How can it be that the sitter's name isn't still attached to this remarkable portrait...?)

Serge Petrovitch Ivanoff (25 December 1893, Moscow – 8 February 1983, Paris), Russian painter. Born into a family of Moscow merchants, he was artistic from an early age; his parents enrolled him in art school at the age of ten. Later, at the height of the Russian Revolution, already in his twenties and having relocated to St.Petersburg with his family, he continued his studies at what had been the Imperial Academy of Arts. In 1920 his wife and two children fled Russia to settle in Paris and two years later, diploma in hand, he joined them there. Over the next few decades he established himself as a popular portraitist, with increasingly prestigious clientele; the Forties appear to have been the peak years of his career. In 1946 he married his eighteen-year-old pupil, Simone Gentile. (I haven't been able to ascertain what became of his first marriage, whether he divorced or was widowed.) In 1950 Ivanoff moved to the United States but, at the end of the Sixties, he returned to France where he later died at the age of eighty-nine.

Simone Gentile Holding a Book, 1946. (Gentile was the second wife of the artist, and an artist, herself.)
Edwige Feuillère, 1943 (?).
Jacques Fath, circa 1948.
Sacha Lio, 1932.
Lycette Darsonval as Giselle, 1941.
Simone Gentile in a Yellow Gown, 1954.
Princess Victoria Brancovan, 1948.
Guy Lainé, 1939 (?).
Portrait of a Woman, 1949.
Still Life With Dominoes, 1944.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Yi Wu, Prince of Korea

Prince Yi Wu (or Yi U: 15 November 1912, Seoul – 7 August 1945, Hiroshima), a member of the imperial family of Korea, and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. Born two years after the Japanese annexation of Korea, he was the second son of Prince Gang, who was himself the fifth son of Emperor Gojong. His mother was Lady Suin, one of Prince Gang's quite numerous concubines.

As a child he was taken to Japan to be educated; this may have been something of a pretext, as the Korean imperial family was subject to the pressures of Japanization. He was intelligent and excelled in the Japanese language and in his military education. But it appears that, like his wastrel father, he also chafed under Japanese dominance. It is said that he refused to take a second seat to his Japanese peers, and when attempts were made by the Japanese to marry him off to a minor Japanese noble, he instead married the Korean Lady Park (or Pak) Chan-ju, a granddaughter of Marquis Park Yŏng-hyo (or Pak Young-ho), with whom he would have two children.

With his wife, Lady Park Chan-ju.
Prince Yi Wu in the Philippines, 1 June 1943.

The prince spent his career in the Japanese Army, serving in battalions in the Philippines and northeast China. There are rumours that while stationed in Manchuria he supported, even aided, resistance movements by Korean exiles. At any rate, he worked his way up through the officer corps; commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1933, after twelve years of service he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was transferred to Hiroshima in 1945, and on 6 August 1945, on his way to his office, he was mortally injured by the atomic bomb blast and died later that day at a medical aid station. He was thirty-two. Posthumously promoted to the rank of Colonel, his body was removed to Korea where he was buried in Heungwon on 15 August 1945, the day the war ended.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Study of Adam for Le Paradis perdu by Alexandre Cabanel, before 1867

This is a finished sketch of the figure of Adam for Cabanel's painting Le Paradis perdu (Paradise Lost). The original painting was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and was exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1867 in Paris, but was destroyed in the bombing of Munich during World War II. Cabanel also executed a reduced version of this work, now titled Adam et Ève chassés du Paradis or Adam et Ève après la chute (Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise or Adam and Eve after the fall), which survives in a private collection. Adam's pose in this sketch is noticeably different than that in the finished painting.

The smaller, surviving version of Paradise Lost. 1867.


Two preparatory sketches; both reflect the pose the artist eventually chose for the figure of Adam.

Another sketch for the project, this version using the same pose as that in the featured study of Adam.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Les Amazones gonflées - equestriennes of the 1830s

Lady's fashions of the 1830s were certainly among the least aerodynamic in all the history of human dress; ladies stuck out all over. Skirts and sleeves and necklines were puffed up to an improbable degree. Superfluous drapery and flounces and out-sized trimming further burdened each fashionable garment. And, above, outrageous curls and top-knots were surmounted by even more extreme headdresses, high and wide, bedeviled with ribbons, plumes, and veils. All was extreme.

And no compromise was made for the riding habit of the modish equestrienne. The sleeves and skirts were just as bulging, but the skirts were much longer, overlong to trail behind when one was a-horse. A top hat was de rigueur and, swirling about it, a long and voluminous veil; a lady was always veiled while out of doors. When one considers that the equestrienne would be installed on an already quite precarious side saddle, it's a miracle that, with any forward motion of the horse, she could retain her seat; it seems all too likely that a gallop, a stiff breeze, and she would be set aloft like a bloated kite only to be tossed inelegantly onto the turf.

This colored lithograph is from the Les Heures de la Parisienne series by Achille Devéria.
I can't explain the figure in the middle; "pants" would have been unthinkable for a woman at the time.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Narcissus is more than a flower

We've had a few sunny and warm days here in Portland; the rain and cold will soon return, but it's been lovely. It's also been lovely, of late, to see what our new/old yard has in store, what the Spring will be presenting us with. (I've always heard that when you've come into possession of a old yard you need to spend the first year doing little and waiting to see what comes popping out of the ground; I'm sure I won't have that much patience.) At this point there really isn't even the shadow of what one could call a garden - the whole place has been horribly neglected, for years by the look of it - and back and front and side yards are all a dreary, flat nothing. But Nature is remarkably persistent, and besides the crocus - not at all my favorite - all sorts of other things are presently peeping out. There are quite obvious signs of tulips and the fragile beginnings of what I really hope are peonies - which are among my favorites. The most prevalent of the new re-arrivals are unmistakably daffodils and/or narcissus (I can't yet tell which)... which leads us - with the most tenuous thematic connection - to this post. To mark the beginnings of Spring, here are a just few examples inspired by that most fertile mythological ground for painters, the sad and instructive story of Narcissus. So, with your indulgence, I offer you a small, scantily-clad bouquet of narcissi!

Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse, 1903.
Narcissus Gazing at His Reflection, by Dirck van Baburen, circa 1621-22.
Narcissus, by Gyula Benczúr, 1881.
Narcissus, by Joseph Denis Odevaere, circa 1820.
The Death of Narcissus, by François-Xavier Fabre, 1814.
Narcissus, by Franciscus de Neve (II), after circa 1650.
Narcissus, by Franc Kavčič (known, variously, as Franz Caucig, Franco Caucig, Francesco Caucig, or Frančišek Caucig), before 1810.
Narcissus, by Caravaggio, circa 1597-99.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Formidable Spanish ladies - portraits by Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz

Concepción Remisa de Moret, 1856.
Gertrudis Goméz de Avellaneda, 1857.
Saturnina Canaleta de Girona, 1856.
Carolina Coronado Romero de Tejada, 1855.
 Amèlia de Vilanova y de Nadal, 1853.
María Encarnación Cueto de Saavedra, duquesa de Rivas, 1878.
Josefa Coello de Portugal y Quesada, 1855.
Carlota Quintana Badia, 1869.
Gabina de Talledo y de la Secada, 1887.
Portrait of a Lady, 1863.
 Isabel Álvarez Montes, II duquesa de Castro Enríquez y II marquesa de Valderas, 1868.
Inés Pérez Seoane y Marín, condesa de Velle, 1850.
María Dolores de Aldama y Alfonso, marquesa de Montelo, 1855.


Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (12 February 1815, Rome – 10 June 1894, Madrid), Spanish painter. Born the son of the artist José de Madrazo y Agudo, he received his first instruction from his father and began his career at a young age. (Federico's brother, Luis de Madrazo, would also become known as a painter, and his son - and best-known pupil - Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, later became quite famous in his own right.) He painted historical, classical, and religious subjects, but is best known for his portraits, particularly those of the Spanish Queen Isabel II and members of the Spanish aristocracy. He was the recipient of many prestigious commissions and awards, including the Légion d'honneur in 1846. He was also director of the Museo del Prado from 1860 to 1868 and from 1881 until his death at the age of seventy-nine in 1894.