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, March 27, 2016

The calculated pose - gestural male portraits

Portrait of a Young Man (thought to be a self portrait), by Michiel Sweerts, 1656.

History shows us that, when posing for his portrait, the male is quite as likely as his female counterpart to strike the telling attitude, to make a calculated declaration of self for posterity. Whether it reads as pompously aggressive, "artistic", elegantly pensive, seignorial, or self-consciously "natural", it all comes down to a personal propaganda.

Portrait of a Young Nobleman in Hunting Dress, by Nicolas de Largillière, circa 1730.
Portrait of a Young Man, by Bronzino, circa 1530s.
Portrait of a Man in Armour (French Marshal), by Sébastien Bourdon, circa 1760s.
James II when Duke of York, by Sir Peter Lely, circa 1665-70.
John Bours, by John Singleton Copley, 1763.
A Portrait of a Man in Armour, by Jacopo Bassano, circa 1560.
Unknown, circa 16th century.
François Boucher, by Gustaf Lundberg, 1741.
Count Kirill Razumovsky, by Jean-Louis Tocqué, 1758.
The Artist in His Museum, by Charles Willson Peale, 1822.
Self-Portrait (Man with Leather Belt), by Gustave Courbet, 1845-46.
Self-Portrait, by Anthony Van Dyck, 1634.
Self-portrait, by Paulus Moreelse, circa 1630-34.
Self-Portrait, by Charles-Antoine Coypel, 1734.
Sir Banastre Tarleton, 1st Baronet, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1782.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ink silhouettes of Grand Duke Paul, his wife, and two sons, circa 1784

"Grand Duke Paul Petrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna with Their Sons Planting a Tree in Front of Catherine II's Bust".

The Grand Duke Paul was the only son of Catherine II of Russia, yet it's rather ironic that the Empress is an object of veneration in this image; to put it mildly, mother and son had very little affection for each other. Paul's first wife had died in childbirth and he is pictured here with his second wife, the former Sophia Dorothea of Württemberg, and their first two children - there would be ten in all, nine surviving to adulthood - the heir presumptive Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich and Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. The Empress had had both boys placed under her charge at birth and was so out of sympathy with her son that she planned to have Alexander rather than his father succeed her. When she died, twelve years after these silhouettes were made, Alexander honored his father's position in the succession though, as it was, he would reign for less than five years before his erratic and despotic behavior led to a coup. He was murdered and his son would go on to rule as Tsar Alexander I, the great enemy of Napoléon.

From what I can tell, all of these are done in India ink on glass.
This silhouette is backed with "bronze paint" - whatever that is. I'm not sure if the paint is applied to the glass or to another backing surface.
In this version, the Empress' portrait bust has disappeared.
The bust of the Empress has also disappeared from this version. (The image looks to be taken with a separation between glass and backing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tough guy, prettied-up face - early images of James Cagney

As concerns his coloring, Mr. Cagney was what we'd now call "ginger". I don't think his hair was actually red - more sandy than auburn - but he had the pallor and freckles, the light eyebrows and eyelashes of the archetypal redhead. Which caused a problem when it came to stage or film work: his face read as a blank. Hollywood, especially in the first years after his explosion as a movie star, remedied his facial indistinctness with a cosmetic vengeance. Mascara, sometimes eyeliner, frequently a little lip color, and always penciled in eyebrows; his eyebrows were naturally thick, but they drew on thin-ish but quite visible brows, and at an expressive angle. I adore Cagney as a actor and as a cinematic legend, but I also love seeing how dolled-up he is from film to film.

From 1931's "The Public Enemy", of course, the film that made him a star.
For "Footlight Parade", 1933.
Publicity for "Picture Snatcher", 1933.
Uncharacteristically moustachioed. Actually, he wore one in several films, including "Lady Killer", 1933", and "He Was Her Man", 1934.
I believe these two portraits were publicity for "Torrid Zone", 1940.
Three portraits for "Here Comes the Navy", 1934.
For "G-Men", 1935.
From "Blonde Crazy", 1931.


And without the painted-in enhancement:

Portrait by Edward Weston, circa 1933.
Portrait by Imogen Cunningham.