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, July 30, 2017

Sophia Loren, three photographs by Phil Stern, circa 1957-58.


As I've said before, I often have to do a lot of work on the images I post; I want them to look good! Getting things right also often involves a lot of sleuthing. Among the many indignities that have been done to images one finds on the internet is "flipping"; many things - even very well known paintings or photographs - have been reversed from the original, presented as a mirror image. I'm usually quite good at spotting when this happens. But all three of these photographs of the divine Miss Loren were found going both ways, and it was tough to come to a judgement on which way was correct. Turns out the lady has a surprisingly symmetrical face, and the photographs actually looked correct both ways. So I looked at many, many other contemporary images of her, searching for clues. The most promising was her hairstyle, which direction her hair was arranged during this period. But then she's so windblown here, that that didn't end up being a useful factor. I finally noticed that one side of her upper lip tended to rest a tiny bit higher than the other... so I went with that! I'm still not one hundred percent sure I got it right but, frankly, she looks amazing any way you flip or flop her. Am I right?

This is the way I most often found the first image. Perhaps reversed, but beautiful, no?

Friday, July 28, 2017

24 rue de Courcelles, à Paris - interiors of the hôtel of princesse Mathilde Bonaparte, by Sébastien-Charles Giraud

The painter Sébastien-Charles Giraud created several paintings for princesse Mathilde Bonaparte depicting interiors of her hôtel particulier at 24 rue de Courcelles in Paris. Since demolished (1954), the hôtel had been put at her disposal in 1852 (Or 1857, depending on the source) by her cousin - and former fiancé - the Prince-Président, or perhaps-by-then Emperor Napoléon III, and it soon became one of the most celebrated salons of the nineteenth century.

Le Salon de la princesse Mathilde, 1859.
La Salle à manger de la princesse Mathilde, circa 1854.
La Princesse Mathilde dans son atelier, circa 1860.
La Véranda de la princesse Mathilde, circa 1864.
Un Coin d'atelier de la princesse Mathilde, circa 1853.
The dating on these images, and even whether they all record spaces at 24 rue de Courcelles, is problematic. Different sources give different 
dates for her residence there. Much complicating the issue, she apparently lived at another address on the same street, 10 rue de Courcelles - 
which I believe is still standing - prior to moving to number 24. When she first lived in the neighborhood and when she moved from the first 
to the second address, and at whose instigation - Nieuwerkerke's or the Emperor's - is unclear. If the dates attached to the paintings are at all 
 accurate, one or two of them may actually depict interiors from number 10.


Portrait by Édouard Louis Dubufe, 1861.

Mathilde Laetitia Wilhelmine Bonaparte, Princess of France, Princess of San Donato (27 May 1820, Trieste - 2 January 1904, Paris), daughter of Jérôme Bonaparte and his second wife, Princess Catherine of Wurtemberg, and therefore the Emperor Napoléon's niece. She spent the first years of her childhood in Rome and nearly married her cousin Louis Napoléon, the future Napoléon III, in 1836, but the betrothal was broken as a result of the failure of the Strasbourg coup and his imprisonment at Ham. In 1840 she married the Russian nobleman Anatole Demidoff, Prince of San Donato, but he refused to part with his mistress and, after a very stormy marriage, the couple separated; in 1846, with her own lover, comte Émilien de Nieuwerkerke, she settled in Paris. She went on to establish a soon to be legendary salon; "This salon is the true salon of the nineteenth century, with a mistress of the house who is the perfect model of the modern woman", wrote the brothers Goncourt, her frequent guests. Indeed, she gathered at 24 rue de Courcelles all those who mattered from the intellectual and artistic elite of the Second Empire. She organized dinners for men of letters on Wednesdays, when writers such as Sainte-Beuve, de Maupassant, Flaubert, Théophile Gautier, Alexandre Dumas, and François Coppée would be entertained. She also invited journalists like Émile de Girardin and Hippolyte de Villemessant, founder of Le Figaro, while scholars and scientists, such as Pasteur and Berthelot were also part of her circle. The artists were received at dinner on Friday, Édouard Detaille, Eugène Isabey, Baudry, Bouguereau, Meissonier, Doré, Carpeaux, and Fromentin among the guests. In 1854, she acquired the château de Saint-Gratien, on the shores of Lake Enghien, where she lived for six months a year. There she replicated the literary and artistic circle of the rue de Courcelles. The war of 1870 and the fall of the Empire forced her to flee France and take refuge in Belgium; her hôtel was sequestered. Returning to France in 1871, she moved to the rue de Berry and resumed her pre-war receptions with the same eclecticism as in the past. Now frequenting her table were, among others, Paul Bourget, Anatole France, Maurice Barrès, Proust, and the actress Réjane. Following the death of Demidoff in 1870, she married the artist and poet Claudius Marcel Popelin, but outlived him. Her salon flourished to the end, and long before her death at the age of eighty-three, she had more than earned the sincere nickname "Notre-Dame des Arts."


Intérieur du cabinet du comte Émilien de Nieuwerkerke, Directeur général des Musées impériaux, au Louvre, 1859.

In spite of his rather unusual relationship with the Emperor's cousin, princesse Mathilde - both were married to other people - the comte de Nieuwerkerke played a highly important rôle during the Second Empire, acting as a kind of minister of cultural affairs, energetic and powerful. Giraud also depicted the comte's office on the first floor of the north wing of the Louvre's Cour Carrée. The artist has incorporated into the decoration of the room a number of precious objects that are in the collection of the museum.

Copies of Winterhalter's state portraits of the Emperor and Empress hang between the windows.


Sébastien-Charles Giraud Paris - Sannois), French painter. Beginning in 1835, he studied at the École supérieure des beaux-arts, with a focus on genre painting. In the 1840s, he traveled to America and then, in 1846, with a military expedition ordered by King Louis Philippe, he went to Tahiti. While there he made numerous sketches of the island - the vegetation, the people, and their dwellings. On his return to France he was given the nickname "Giraud le Tahitien".

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ramses goes to Hollywood - Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments


"Costume" test? At any rate, before the "Egyptian shave down".

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dispossessed children - two royal Indian portraits by Winterhalter

Princess Gouramma, 1852.

Princess Gouramma (4 July 1841, Benares - 30 March 1864, London) was the daughter of Chikka Virarajendra, the ruler of Coorg. The Raja was deposed by the British in 1834 and taken political prisoner. In 1852, stating that he wished his daughter to be raised a Christian and to receive a Western education, the ex-Raja was permitted to travel to England; while there, he would also go to court to demand that the East India Government restore his wealth. Arriving in England, the Raja was received by Queen Victoria with the respect due his royal status, and he put his daughter into her care. That same year, the Princess was baptised in a ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Chapel at Buckingham Palace and took the name "Victoria", with Queen Victoria as her Sponsor (godmother). She was later considered a possible bride for the Maharaja Duleep Singh [see below], but he declined to marry her. In 1860 she wed Colonel John Campbell - thirty-one years her senior - with whom she had a daughter - Edith Victoria Gouramma Campbell - born the following year. The Princess died of tuberculosis three years later - she was only twenty-two - and was buried at Brompton cemetery.

In Winterhalter's portrait, the Princess is holding a bible, an allusion to her conversion to Christianity.
Three photographs by Roger Fenton 1854.


The Maharaja Duleep Singh, 1854.

Maharaja Duleep Singh (also known as Dalip Singh; 6 September 1838, Lahore - 22 October 1893, Paris), the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He was Maharaja Ranjit Singh's youngest son, the only child of Maharani Jind Kaur. After the assassinations of four of his predecessors, he came to power in 1843, at the age of five. For a while, his mother ruled as Regent, but three years later, after the First Anglo-Sikh War, she was replaced by a British Council of Regency and imprisoned; mother and son were not allowed to meet again for thirteen and a half years. In 1849 the ten-year-old child was deposed and put into the care of a British governor who undertook a program of Anglicization; in 1853 he was converted to Christianity. (Something he later rebelled against, reconverting to his native Sikhism in 1886.) The following year, at the age of fifteen, he was exiled to Britain where he was befriended and much admired by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He quickly became a close personal friend of the Royal Family, visiting them at Osborne and attending court functions. He was granted an annual pension and lived lavishly in a series of leased estates in England and Scotland. In 1863 he purchased the Elveden estate in Suffolk, which he energetically restored, transforming it into an efficient game preserve, and it was here that he gained his reputation as the "fourth best shot in England". He married twice and had a total of eight children from his two marriages. Increasingly upset by the circumstances of his exile and his lack of personal freedom, though, he became involved in several intrigues to leave Britain and regain his throne. Continually thwarted by the British government, he was arrested in Yemen in 1886, during an attempt to return to India; it was there that he reclaimed his Sikh faith. He died in Paris seven years later, at the age of fifty-five. His wish that his body be returned to India was not honored, and his remains were brought back to Elveden Church, where he was given a Christian burial.

On the terrace at Osborne House, by Dr. Ernst Becker, 1854.
Photograph by John Jabez Edwin Mayall, circa 1861.
Photograph by JW Clarke : Bury St Edmunds, 1877.

 Adapted from the Royal Collection website:

Queen Victoria was captivated by Duleep Singh when first introduced to him in 1854, the year in which he was brought to England, writing, "Those eyes and those teeth are too beautiful." And she recorded in her journal on 10 July 1854 that, "Winterhalter was in ecstasies at the beauty and nobility of bearing of the young Maharaja. He was very amiable and patient, standing so still and giving a sitting of upwards of 2 hrs." Winterhalter's male portraits are rarely as romantic or exotic as this image, which places the young Maharaja in an imaginary landscape in Indian dress. He is shown wearing his diamond aigrette and star in his turban and a jewel-framed miniature of Queen Victoria by Emily Eden. During one of the sittings he was shown the Koh-i-Noor diamond that he had surrendered in 1849. Queen Victoria recorded how she had given him the newly recut jewel to inspect and that he then handed it back to her, saying how much pleasure it gave him to be able to make the gift in person. (Remarkably tactless, the Queen, as the famous diamond had been in every sense stolen by the invading British as a spoil of war, an action controversial even at the time. Now included among the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, the governments of India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan have all claimed ownership of the Koh-i-Noor and demanded its return at various times in recent decades.)