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

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Magdalene - four paintings by Georges de La Tour

From the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, circa 1635-37.
The gorgeous light through the sleeve and the oddly simplified, knuckle-less hand....

G and I visited the Portland Art Museum recently. To renew our membership but, more pressingly, to remind ourselves of the layout of the gallery where we'd soon be presenting our "pop-up" event for The Untold Gaze, as part of the amazing Portland Book Festival (formerly Wordstock.) While upstairs in the galleries that feature the Pre-Impressionist European paintings and sculpture, we noticed the special display of the visiting LACMA Mary Magdalene by Georges de La Tour, something I'd very much wanted to see, but had forgotten would be there. And I was so glad not to have missed it; it is even more beautiful than I'd imagined. Really, a quite remarkable painting. Exquisite, profound. Impossible to adequately describe, impossible to adequately reproduce; the image here is nothing to the actual painting. Reading more about it later, I realized that there are actually four known paintings on this subject by de La Tour, the one in the Louvre being only a very slight variation on the Los Angeles version.

From the collection of the Louvre, circa 1640-45. The position of the feet is the most noticeable difference between this and the LACMA painting.


From the collection of the National Gallery of Art. circa, 1635-40.


From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, circa 1640.
The most exquisite, tender profil perdu....

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Les hommes dansants - male dancers of the Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris, photographs by Matthew Brookes

 Germain Louvet, Hugo Marchand, Axel Ibot, and Loïck Pireaux.
Daniel Stokes and Hugo Marchand.
Germain Louvet and Hugo Marchand.
Josua Hoffalt and Mathieu Ganio.
Germain Louvet, Loïck Pireaux, .... and Yvon Demol.
Mickaël Lafon and....
Loïck Pireaux and Hugo Marchand.
 Hugo Marchand.
Germain Louvet.
Germain Louvet.
Adrien Dantau.
Josua Hoffalt.
Axel Ibot, Antonio Conforti, Julien Meyzindi, and Cyril Mitilian.

Wanting to capture something beyond an array of typical classical ballet poses, Brookes asked the dancers to think of birds falling from the sky:“They got it straight away—on the first jump in fact! I didn’t know how to express what I wanted so it was the first idea that came into my head. My photography is very much about being open to ideas that come to me when I connect with a subject. It’s a based on gut instinct. [...] I now see dancers as artists and creators in their own right. I was under the impression that dancers only followed what a choreographer was instructing them to do but I realized very quickly that their own interpretation of ideas was extraordinary.”


 Hugo Marchand. (This is a more recent portrait, not part of the original project.) 
Antoine Kircher.
Antoine Kircher, Hugo Marchand, and....
Loïck Pireaux, Hugo Marchand, Daniel Stokes, Axel Ibot, Yvon Demol, Antoine Kircher, and Germain Louvet.

“I photographed them more like athletes than pure dancers. It wasn’t about so much the art of dance but more about the strength of dance. Their bodies are so indicative of bodies of strength and hard work. [...] The more I learned about it, the more I was fascinated and the more I became aware of how brilliant these ballet dancers are — what incredible athletes and artists they are. [...] Each one had an incredibly different spirit. They were also gentle souls and kind and generous people with their time. [...] They are from this world where everything has to be criticized and analyzed and it can always be better. But at the same time, they still have the heart to compliment each other. That was just really lovely to see.”



English-born, South Africa-raised, self-taught photographer Matthew Brookes specializes in fashion editorials and portraiture for publications such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Interview.  In 2015, after spending a year photographing twenty male dancers, members of the Paris Opera Ballet, he published a book of the resulting images, "Les danseurs." Almost all of what I've shared here comes from that body of work. The dancers he worked with include:

Hervé Moreau, Josua Hoffalt, Mathieu Ganio, Yvon Demol, Antonio Conforti, Grégory Dominiak, Axel Ibot, Julien Meyzindi, Hugo Marchand, Loïck Pireaux, Germain Louvet, Florimond Lemort Dit Lorieux, Mickaël Lafon, Antoine Kircher, Cyril Mitilian, Jérémy-Loup Quer, Adrien Dantau, and Daniel Stokes.

Lastly, and totally unrelated to the above project - it's just because I love the image - Friedemann Vogel, a portrait by Brookes for Vogue Russia.


I should mention that I'm not 100% certain of all the captions; I had to do most of the identifications myself and I'm not familiar with any of these gentlemen.

Friday, November 22, 2019

A Pic-Nic Party - painting by Thomas Cole, 1846

From the Brooklyn Museum's website:

"Thomas Cole undertook this painting in the fall of 1845 in response to a generous commission from the wealthy New York banker and philanthropist James Brown. Cole chose the subject of a picnic to describe the ideal coexistence of nature and civilization. The demand for paintings like this one that combined the figural and natural was a result, at least in part, of the rising popularity of outdoor leisure-time pursuits, including excursions such as picnics. However, hints of time’s passage and mortality invade this otherwise lighthearted scene through the ax-cut tree stump so prominent in the foreground."

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Battenberg to Mountbatten - portraits by de László

Prince Louis of Battenberg, 1909.

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, GCB, GCVO, KCMG, PC (24 May 1854, Graz – 11 September 1921, London), British naval officer and German nobleman closely related to the British royal family. Born Prince Ludwig Alexander von Battenberg, the eldest son of the morganatic marriage between Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine and Countess Julia von Hauke. He was closely related to many of Europe's royal families, and became especially close with that of Queen Vicoria after her second eldest daughter, Alice, married his cousin Prince Louis of Hesse. At the age of fourteen he joined the Royal Navy and thus became a naturalized British subject. In the coming decades, he gladly welcomed any assignment that would help him acquire the many necessary skills of naval warfare and demonstrate to his superiors his devotion to a naval career, while eschewing any promotion or honor that might give the impression of being undeserved, the result of the influence of his royal connections. After many far-flung postings and increasingly prestigious commands, by 1904, he had risen to the rank of rear admiral.

Prince Louis, 1910.
Prince Louis, 1910.

In 1912, after a naval career lasting more than forty years, he was appointed First Sea Lord, the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. With the approach of World War I, together with the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, he took steps to ready the British fleet for the coming conflict. But there had been grumblings about his German heritage for some time, and after the commencement of hostilities, with the rapid rise of anti-German sentiment among the British public, the press, and with resentment even being stirred by others in the Admiralty, Churchill asked for his resignation in October of 1914.

In the summer of 1917, in the thick of war and the height of anti-German feeling, King George V changed the name of the British royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor. At the same time, he and all his British relatives relinquished their German titles and styles, and adopted British-sounding surnames. The King compensated his male relatives by creating them British peers. Prince Louis was made Marquess of Milford Haven, Earl of Medina, and Viscount Alderney, and he and his three younger children took on a new surname, transforming Battenberg into a more English-sounding Mountbatten.

Prince Louis, 1909.
Princess Victoria of Battenberg, 1907.

In 1884, Louis had married his first cousin once removed, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie; 5 April 1863 – 24 September 1950). Victoria was the eldest child of Princess Alice, herself the second daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Athe age of fifteen, after the death of two of her siblings, then the death of her mother, Victoria, as the eldest child, assumed the role of mother to the younger children and of companion to her father. She later wrote, "My mother's death was an irreparable loss ... My childhood ended with her death, for I became the eldest and most responsible." Much later she suffered many more family tragedies, including the murder of her two sisters, Empress Alexandra and Grand Duchess Elisabeth, during the Russian Revolution, as well as the air crash of 1937 that devastated the Grand Ducal family of Hesse; she lost her sister-in-law, nephew, granddaughter, and two great-grandsons. Then her elder son died the following year of bone cancer. Through it all, she was the backbone of the family.

Victoria Mountbatten, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, 1923.

She and Louis had a happy marriage, though with much travel and separation because of his naval career. They had four children:

Alice (Victoria Alice Elizabeth Julia Marie; 25 February 1885 – 5 December 1969), who, in 1903, married Prince Andrew of Greece, with whom she would have four daughters - all would go on to marry German princes - and, later, they would be the parents of the present Duke of Edinburgh. (Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, he adopted the name Mountbatten before his marriage to the future Queen.)

Louise (Louise Alexandra Marie Irene; 13 July 1889 – 7 March 1965), who married, as his second wife, the future King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden in 1923, and became Queen of Sweden after his accession in 1950.

George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, GCVO (George Louis Victor Henry Serge Mountbatten; 6 December 1892 – 8 April 1938), who married Countess Nadejda Mikhailovna de Torby, morganatic daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich in 1916. They had two children before his early death.

Admiral of the Fleet Louis, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten; 25 June 1900 – 27 August 1979), British Royal Navy officer and statesman, uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II. During the Second World War, he was Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943–1946). He was the last Viceroy of India and the first Governor-General of independent India. He married heiress Edwina Ashley in 1922 and they had two daughters together.

Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, 1907.
De László at work on the portrait above, with the model and her husband.
Her husband, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, 1913.
Princess Andrew, 1907.
Princess Andrew, 1922.
Princess Andrew, 1922. It's believed that this portrait and the one above were completed on the same day.
George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, 1924.
Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1924.
Lord Louis, 1925.
His wife, Edwina, Lady Mountbatten, 1923. This appears to be a sketch for the following portrait.
Lady Mountbatten, 1923. Posed in her wedding gown; the event had been celebrated the year before.
Lady Mountbatten, 1924.
Princess Louise of Battenberg, 1907.
Princess Louise, 1907.