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, September 29, 2019

The Favourite - portraits of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham

Portrait by Michiel van Mierevelt, circa 1625.

George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, (28 August 1592, Brooksby, Leicestershire – 23 August 1628, Portsmouth, Hampshire), English courtier, statesman, patron of the arts, he was the last and greatest favourite - and very possibly also the lover - of King James I of England. Born the son of a minor aristocrat, he was later groomed by his widowed mother for a life at court. Well trained in all the "manly arts", he was also charming and strikingly handsome. In 1614, at the age of twenty-one, placed in the right place at the right time, he first caught the eye of the King. He began to appear in court masques the following year, the perfect setting to display his fine figure and his grace as a dancer.

Attributed to William Larkin and his studio, circa 1616.

With James' favor, he quickly moved up the ranks of the nobility; he was knighted and made a Gentleman of the Bedchamber that same year. A year later, 1616, appointed King's Master of the Horse, he was elevated to the peerage, created Baron Whaddon and Viscount Villiers, and made a Knight of the Garter. The following year, he was made Earl and the next year Marquess of Buckingham. Finally, in 1623, his title was further promoted and he became the Duke of Buckingham. 

After Daniel Mytens, circa 1620s.
Paul van Somer, circa before 1621.
Studio of Daniel Mytens, circa 1620s.
Daniel Dumonstier, 1625.
Studio of Daniel Mytens, circa 1620s.

His new rank allowed him great proximity to the Royal Family, and he developed a close friendship with James' heir, the future Charles I. In 1620 he married Lady Katherine Manners, a daughter of the 6th Earl of Rutland. They had four children - the last born posthumously - three of whom achieved majority.

"Venus and Adonis", an allegorical portrait of Buckingham and his wife, by Anthony van Dyck, circa 1620.
With his wife and their children Mary and George - later 2nd Duke of Buckingham - after Gerrit van Honthorst, circa 1628.
Detail of above.
Studio of Gerrit van Honthorst, circa 1628.
Miniature by John Hoskins, after Honthorst, circa 1628-29.

Like many royal favourites, before and since, he was given many privileges and responsibilities for which he was quite unsuited. He was a great patron of the arts though, frankly, much of the work he commissioned was designed for his self-aggrandizement. But as Lord Admiral and as - in effect if not title - foreign minister, his career was a series of diplomatic and military blunders. Despite his record of incompetency, he remained at the height of royal favor, a position which, after James' death in 1625, would continue for the first three years of Charles' reign. 

Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1625.
Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1625.
Sketch for an equestrian portrait - since destroyed - by Peter Paul Rubens, 1625.
"Apollo and Diana" or "The Liberal Arts Presented to King Charles and Queen Henrietta Maria", by Gerrit van Honthorst, 1628.
The King and Queen, together on their cloud, represent Apollo and his sister Diana, while Buckingham appears below as Mercury.

But the public and Parliament loathed his influence and had long since turned against him, a sentiment and situation echoed in so many other instances throughout the history of kings and favourites. And he was assassinated by an army officer, John Felton, in 1628. Felton was later hanged, the public display of his corpse becoming an object of veneration by an approving public, while Buckingham was buried in a lavish tomb in Westminster Abbey. He had died at the age of thirty-five.

Katherine Villiers, Duchess of Buckingham with Lady Mary Villiers, later Duchess of Lennox and Duchess of Richmond, George Villiers, 2nd Duke of
Buckingham, and Lord Francis Villiers, studio of van Dyck, circa 1633. The late Duke is depicted both in a portrait and in the miniature that the Duchess holds.
After Daniel Mytens, circa 1620s or after.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Art before commerce - watercolors by Jules David, 1849-1886


Beginning at the end of the eighteenth century, engravings of the latest French fashions began to be produced and could soon be found in places far from Paris. At the time, ladies' clothes were made at home or, rarely, by a local dressmaker. But Paris had already long been considered the arbiter of fashion so, all over the world, any woman with pretensions of modishness longed to know what was being worn in the French capital. And by the mid-nineteenth century, Parisian fashion plates - lithographs, often hand-colored - were quite common and could be found in nearly every corner of the globe. What makes the images here a bit more interesting is that they came before the engravings. These are the original watercolors that the lithographs were based on. The hand-coloring applied to the resulting engravings usually had no relation at all to that of the original garment - and is often quite jarring and crude - so the generally harmonious color combinations shown here are much more likely to reflect the true coloration of each toilette.



Jules David (né Jean-Baptiste David; 29 March 1808, Paris – 29 October 1892, Paris), French painter and lithographer. His work appeared in many books and magazines, and he was particularly known for his illustrations of contemporary Parisian fashions.