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, April 29, 2018

Konrad Detlef Graf von Dehn, by Nicolas de Largillière, 1724

Konrad Detlef Graf von Dehn (1688, Preetz, Holstein - 28 January 28 1753, The Hague), German minister, diplomat, and favorite of Herzog August Wilhelm of Brunswick. The son of a Danish officer, he joined the court of Herzog Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel at about the age of fifteen. The good-looking young page was soon taken under the wing of the Herzog's son and eventual successor, the thrice-married but vigorously homosexual Prinz August Wilhelm - twenty-six years Dehn's senior - who saw to his education. After the succession of August Wilhelm in 1714, Dehn was quickly promoted up the ranks of government offices, and was soon described as one of the most powerful men at the Brunswick ducal court. Diplomatic missions led him as envoyé extraordinaire to the courts of Versailles, London, The Hague, and Vienna. He made two profitable marriages, built and lived lavishly, and amassed a collection of more than five hundred paintings. In 1730, though, he was dismissed from his positions, the result of embezzlement and years of too-obvious favoritism. And the following year, at the death of August Wilhelm, he had to leave the country. He gave himself to the service of the Danish that same year and worked as a Danish envoy in St. Petersburg, Madrid, and The Hague. He died in the latter city at the age of sixty-four.

Interesting enough story, interesting enough fellow. But, of course, this post is really only about the remarkable portrait. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I love everything about this. And I've certainly featured the work of Largillière many times. But I just marvel at what he does. The color harmonies, the delicate yet vigorous application of paint, the fully realized details, the reflection of light. His description of the textures, all distinct: the nearly phosphorescent gauziness of the wig; the soft drape and weight of the white lace and the spiky stiffness of the metallic lace; the cool semi-translucence of the marble table top; the thick bend and shimmer of the remarkably beautiful silver and rose-colored brocade.

The rising seam in the sleeve catches the light, giving off the brightest highlights.
I love the light coming through the backlit fingers of the held kid glove, and the light reflecting back onto them.
Of course I love the detail of the diamond-framed miniature in its case, which looks to be, from what appears to be a stamped
seal from the French court (?) and what's legible on the accompanying note, a gift intended for Herzog August Wilhelm. (The
discernible words on the note: "a Mon Cousin...Wolfenbutel Prince...." Rulers of countries, even when unrelated, would address
each other cousin.) I think the depiction of the case is even more interesting than that of the jeweled order; the simple clasps, the
gold tooling on the edges, and the way the Morocco leather flushes the note with its color.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Adams and Eves - four figures in the collection of the Rijksmuseum

Between 1670 and his death in 1673, the Antwerp sculptor Pieter Xaveri lived in Leiden, where he specialized in small figures modelled in clay. Thanks to these signed ivory figurines, we know that he also worked in that material. His work in clay was expressive and quickly modeled, quite different than these fluid, yet restrained forms. Height: 17cm = 6.69 inches.


North of the Alps, bronze casting was still in its infancy at the turn of the sixteenth century. While Italian bronze-casters crafted their modelli in wax and clay, Nederlandish and German sculptors still worked from carved wooden models. Their figures – like this pair (which comes from Stift Heilingenkreuz, a Cistercian abbey near Vienna) – thus look rather stiff. Height: 71cm = 28 inches.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Espléndida pintura española, espléndida carne española - paintings by Francisco Soria Aedo

Fruto de Amor, 1926.
Cazadores Primitivos, 1953.
Pepita, 1929.
Juventud de Baco, 1932.
Pasión, 1926.
La Favorita, 1947.
Idilio, 1926.
Fauno Galante, 1929.
Turba sin Dios, 1934.


Autorretrato, 1930.

Francisco Soria Aedo (3 May 1897, Granada - 2 November 1965, Madrid), Spanish figurative painter. He had his first professional art instruction at the age of fifteen, and at twenty-two he left for Madrid for further study. Not long after, he won the patronage of the Duque del Infantado, and was able to travel and continue his studies. He would go on to win prestigious awards, such as the second prize in the National Exhibition of 1924, and the first in the International Exhibition of Barcelona in 1929. That same year he married and he and his wife would have two children; his daughter would also become an artist. He began to show internationally, but the Spanish Civil War intervened; his home in Madrid was destroyed in the bombing, and his family moved to Valencia for the duration. After the war, in 1939, they moved to his hometown of Granada where they spent the next eight years. He continued to show widely, but mostly in Spain. In 1947, he became professor of color theory at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. a position he would hold until two months before his death.

Much of his work was devoted to the representation of Andalusian, Castilian, and Moroccan character types. And in almost all of his paintings, he employed dramatic lighting effects alongside a lavish display of chromatic richness. 

Bodegón, 1943. (I couldn't help but include this "off-topic" - but gorgeous - still-life.)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Winterhalter, on his birthday

Paca, Duchess of Alba, 1854.

I just happened to notice yesterday that today is my dear Winterhalter's birthday. (His two hundred and thirteenth, if you're counting.) To mark the occasion, I hastily gathered a random group of some of my favorite FXW portraits and then bumped today's planned post. Franz Xaver was born on an April 20th and - as I always feel compelled to note - he died on a July 8th. My birthday is July 8. And, no, we're not talking the same year.

Princess Gouramma, 1852.
Sophie, duchesse de Morny, 1863.
Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, 1846.
Queen Victoria, 1845. (Copy?)
The Empress Eugénie, 1862.
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, 1857.
Prince Alfred and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, 1849.
Duchess of Kent, 1843.
Olga, Countess Shuvalova, 1858.
Eliza, Countess Krasińska, 1857.
Queen Isabel II of Spain and her daughter, Infanta Isabel, 1852.
Claire-Émilie, marquise de Las Marismas, 1852.
Alexei Alexeievich, Count Bobrinsky, 1844.
Queen Victoria, 1856.
Victoria, Princess Royal, 1857.
Luigi Lablache, 1852.
Victoire, duchesse de Nemours, 1840.
Tatiana, Princess Yusupova, 1858.
Friedrich Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Prussia, 1851.
Friedrich Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Prussia, 1867.
Duchesse d'Aumale, circa 1845. (Copy.)
Empress Maria Alexandrovna, 1857.
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, Crown Princess of Württemberg, 1856.
Sofia, Madame Naryshkina, 1858.
Queen Victoria in Garter Robes, 1843.
Prince Albert in Garter Robes, 1843.
Victoria, Princess Royal, 1842.
Dowager Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, 1856.
Pauline, Princess Metternich, 1860.
Elizaveta, Princess Troubetzkaia, 1859.
Claire-Émilie, marquise de Las Marismas, 1857.
The Empress Elisabeth of Austria, 1865.