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, November 26, 2017

Ridiculous glamour - Dietrich in Seven Sinners, 1940

I believe the portraits, here, are the work of John Engstead.
With John Wayne.
Between takes. Miss Dietrich uses a leaning board, Hollywood's device for allowing an actor to rest while not unduly creasing the costume.
With Broderick Crawford.
With John Wayne.
With John Wayne.


Spanish language publicity for the picture; the new title translates to "From Island to Island".


One last image, clearly from the same sessions but, with her hair loose and brushed out, quite uncharacteristically free for our Miss Dietrich.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Two paintings, three sculptures - selected work of Alonso Cano

Two Kings of Spain, circa 1640. (There seems to be some confusion, as this painting is often referred to as "Two Kings Of The Visigoths".)

How many times on this blog have I started off a post by declaring, "Here's another wonderful artist I've never heard of"? For someone who's entirely self-schooled, I have a fairly broad and deep knowledge of art history. And yet I'm still constantly stumbling across artists that are brand new to me. Amazing artists....

A King of Spain, circa 1640.

These two beautiful and odd pseudo-portraits - so freshly painted, so modern in their directness and verisimilitude - formed part of a series on the Castilian-Leonese dynasty, painted by various artists, and designed to decorate the king's bedroom or the Sala de las Furias of the Alcázar of Madrid. The series was distributed between the Dormitorio and the Salón de las Comedias or the Sala Dorada between 1639-1641. The Italian painter Vincenzo Carducci (known in Spain as Vicente Carducho) designed a programme so that the other pictures of the series conformed to his model, but nothing is now known of the genealogical plan. The group of painters employed on the series were: Félix Castello, Jusepe Leonardo, Antonio Arias, Francisco Camilo, Francisco Fernandez, Pedro Núñez and Francisco Rizi; they were joined by Alonso Cano, who was a newcomer to Madrid at the time. Cano's paintings were transferred at some point to a passage that connected the palace with the adjacent Real Monasterio de la Encarnación. This location turned out to be their salvation; almost all the canvases of the series perished in the horrendous fire that destroyed the Alcázar in 1734.

This imagined portrait is said to represent Sancho I of Leon, called "the Fat".
And it follows that this would portray his son Ramiro III. (Though, in reality, he was only five when his father was poisoned and died.)


San Juan de Dios, circa 1660-65.
Adán, circa 1666.
Eva, circa 1666.

Alonso Cano (19 March 1601, Granada – 3 September 1667, Granada), Spanish painter, architect, and sculptor. He probably first studied architecture with his father, an altarpiece maker. Moving to Seville at about the age of fifteen, he went on to study painting at the academy of his brother-in-law, Juan del Castillo, and sculpture from Juan Martínez Montañés. He became a master painter in 1626 and four years later became head of the painters' guild of Seville. He moved on to Madrid in 1638, where he would be made first royal architect and painter to Philip IV of Spain, and instructor to the crown prince, Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias. He was known for his "ungovernable temper", but tales of his exploits are not all necessarily based in fact. According to one story, coming home one evening, he found his house robbed and his wife murdered. The authorities suspected him and he fled to Valencia; afterwards returning to Madrid, he was put to torture. He apparently endured this without incriminating himself, and he was restored to the king's favor. After the death of his wife he took Holy Orders - as protection from further prosecution - while still continuing his professional pursuits. He returned to Granada circa 1652. Under the king's patronage, his main achievement in architecture was the façade of the Granada Cathedral, designed at the end of his life and erected to his design after his death. He died at the age of sixty-six in the place of his birth.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Le Contrat de mariage, ou L'Attente nerveuse, by Jean-Baptiste-André Gautier-Dagoty, circa 1770

"The Marriage Contract, or The Nervous Wait" is a fairly rare genre subject by Gautier-Dagoty. He is really only remembered for his doll-like portraits of Marie Antoinette and certain other ladies at the French court. (I recently blogged about the Queen's state portrait by Gautier-Dagoty, and his paintings of her two Savoyard sisters-in-law.) He was a second-rate artist - at best - and some of his weaknesses as an artist are evident here. Most obvious is the incorrect perspective of the lovely, neoclassical pavilion; certainly meant to be square in format, the artist's drafting of it actually describes a rhombus instead.

This miscalculation only accentuates the stage-setting-like composition; the whole thing is very like a depiction of a play: The older couple, seated comfortably, deep in negotiations. The graceful young woman at the window, trying to hear what her elders are saying, listening as her fate is determined. While a young man - prospective groom or soon-to-be-extraneous lover? - waits in the shadows. All of this scene lit by the pavilion's warm candle glow and the cool wash of moonlight. It's all real and unreal at the same time, just like in the theater. And, then, isn't it charming?

In the background, at the foot of a flight of stairs, waits a carriage. Does the statue on the balustrade portray Venus, the goddess of love...?
The clock is covered in a sheer cloth - I don't know what that might or might not signify.
The overturned planter - the sort used for ornamental shrubs or small trees, often lemon or orange - is an interesting detail.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sober (for a day) - Pre-Revolutionary Russian sobriety movement posters

The Russian Orthodox Church observes All-Russia Sobriety Day each year on September 11, a date that coincides with the beheading of John the Baptist; the prophet was apparently killed during a drunken feast. The first observance occurred in 1913, and up until the Revolution, no alcohol was sold on the Day of Sobriety. Even though the consumption of alcohol in the Russian Empire during the reign of Nicholas II was significantly lower than today, the sobriety movement was then at its peak, a cause the last Tsar very much supported; presented with the arguments that the Imperial treasury significantly benefited from the sale of alcohol, he said that the welfare of the treasury should not be dependent on the devastation of the spiritual and economic needs of his subjects.