Archive for May, 2010

Babylon Baroque in Ruin, the Los Angeles Theatre

Posted in 20th century, architecture, Los Angeles Theatre on May 31, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of catching the screwball flick, “How To Succeed In Business Without Even Trying”, presented by the Los Angeles Conservancy as part of their Last Remaining Seats film series;classic films screened in historic film-Vaudeville palaces. I was thrilled to visit the Los Angeles Theatre for a second time, a rare treat.

Los Angeles Theatre

615 South Broadway

Los Angeles, CA 90014

As is the case with all of these palaces, the Los angeles is a smoldering pile of beauty.The voluptuous grandeur weighed down by decades of dust, neglect, and fire. Shocking, yet beautiful, romantic, heartbreaking, uplifting.

I snapped away on my phone, rather terrible quality, but a slice of what you have in store if you take part in this admirable series of films and their venerable venues. Please consider joining the Los Angeles Conservancy at A worthy institution.

Memorial Day Fashion;Vivandiere, women of valor & panache

Posted in 19th cent., Civil War, Memorial Day, Vivandiere with tags on May 31, 2010 by babylonbaroque

To honor the fallen, I thought it best to honor the brave women by their side as they fell.

The Vivandiere.

Vivandiere Uniform


As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am taking a course in U.S. History, through Reconstruction, fascinating . As a resource we were instructed to visit the Smithsonian’s site, The Price of Freedom. A marvelous resource.  I stumbled upon the Vivandiere, sometimes referred to as the Cantinieres. The Vivandiere were young women who accompanied soldiers providing “creature comforts”, yes, I had the same impure thought; from my brief research, most of the young ladies were of fine virtue.

What they did provide was companionship, though they carried about a distinctive flask of wine or brandy ,which they dispensed as needed, I imagine  their greatest gift was the gentle touch so absent from combat. It sounds sexist and perhaps patronizing, but I can imagine the comfort a woman’s voice brought to a fallen soldier, his blood darkening the soil beneath him.

Fallen soldiers


Sept.-Oct. 1862

The costume I chose from the Smithsonian site is from our Civil War, Union side. From another source (, I understood both Union and Confederate women were engaged as Vivandiere. I found the costume both visually striking and familiar. It reminded me at once of early bathing costumes of the mid to late 19th century, often favored by fashion reformers and Suffragettes.

Bathing costume 1870

The trouser element of course had it’s practical value, but I believe the wearing of the Vivandiere costume was perhaps an acceptable expression of feminism; granted the role was stereotypical, dispensing coffee, tobacco, and feminine charm, but this was brandy to a bloodied soldier, not tea to the vicar.

Vivandiere Items

Housewife sewing kit of blue wool with needle, thread, and buttons. Tobacco twist. sugar bag, coffee bag, and metal can., circular lamp, and camp stove.


Whatever the inclination of these  special woman, I felt it appropriate to honor them.

Kady Brownell

of the 1st (later the 5th) Rhode Island

from Frank C. moore’s “Women of the War “, 1866.

Happy Memorial Day


Posted in 21st Century, Aesthetic Movement, Street Brilliance on May 30, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I am certainly settling into my new home, the Arts District in Downtown LA. I loved West Hollywood, so lovely and green, but my new home offers such contrast of beauty and grit. I am enchanted beyond measure.

I almost smashed up the faithful Honda when I stumbled upon the following graffito.

Artist: Slay/Asylm

date unknown

First the yallerish green, so Aesthetic Movement, so sickly and lovely. The hints at Japonism, the delicacy, the vibrancy. Street art is alive and well in my new neighborhood, but I consider the following worthy of pilgrimage. Location: 1st , east of  Alameda.

More and more cute boys and girls are sporting carp tattoos at the multiple gyms I frequent. This mural shames the tattoo artist and the paltry flesh he adorns.

As a devout Marian, I was touched by this expressive Theotokis, I am sure the Holy Mother approves.

Ave Maria.

My Beloved

Orange is always a neutral.

Good night.

Sabbath Chair week 13/Thomas Hope

Posted in 19th cent., chair, Regency, Regency Revival, Thomas Hope on May 30, 2010 by babylonbaroque

My Sabbath chair this week will honor the Christian sabbath.

The following is after a design by the eccentric Classicist  Thomas Hope. Designed in 1802, the height of Neo-Classical fashion, this chair wasn’t made until ’92.

It was well worth the wait.


ca.1807 designed

ca. 1892 made

Thomas Hope


Mahogany with brass inlay

made by Edwards and Roberts, london

Victoria & Albert collection

Based upon a design found in Hope’s classic Household Furniture, 1807, it reflects his distinctive understanding of ancient furnishings. Household Furniture is a must for anyone serious about the decorative arts. It is a dream tour through Hope’s home, collections, tastes and thinking.It is so much more then a folio of pretty furniture, it is a moment  and place captured in elegant line drawings reminiscent of the fashionable Flaxman.

This week’s featured chair has an especially handsome star and palmette decorative scheme rendered in inlaid brass.

I love the foppish Hope, wealthy (Hope diamond a family jewel, dirty pun intended), brash, and with marvelous broad taste. I love how he expressed Egyptian taste, as well as other ancient styles.

I will close with two images of Hope as one just isn’t enough for a man of such grandeur.

oil on canvas 1798

William Beechey (1753-1839)

National Portrait Gallery, London

You have to love a man who dolls up in costume a la Turk to have his portrait painted.

Just one more as the coloring is so much more vulgar, making me happy.

Have a wonderful weekend , take a moment to remember fallen soldiers throughout history.

Patience Please

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I have recently moved , Internet Hell my housewarming. The dreaded Time Warner assures me my service will be restored Sunday.

Eager to post, please stand by.

Babylon Baroque

Crystal Palace Park Ruins

Posted in 19th cent., Crystal Palace, Sculpture on May 15, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Degraded beauty always haunts.

I have a recurring dream, it  is a wonderland of fragmented sculpture, ready for me to lug home.  The following illustrates that dream.

apparently after long neglect, the ruined Park sculpture was gathered into storage, sometime in the 70’s. I love the contrast of the chain link with fair Andromeda, she just can’t shake her shackles.

Undated, sometime after the fire.

Undated, sometime before the fire. It’s prettier all weed filled.

Venus in vines.

Marie Antoinette’s Shabbos Chair/Week 13

Posted in 18th century, Marie Antoinette, Menuisier Sene' on May 14, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Switching centuries for a moment, parting momentarily from my beloved 19th century, to explore anew the 18th century.

I am in the process of moving, packing away my library. In doing so, I realized how heavy, literally and figuratively, my collection leans towards all things dealing with  the Ancien Regime. Instead of diligently packing I was gazing adoringly at our fair Queen.

In honor of her Majesty, I will highlight this very lovely chair. So very much NOT a product of the 19th. century.


ca. 1785-1790

Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sene’


Carved walnut,painted white and grey and partly gilt, modern upholstery, modern castors.

Victoria & Albert

Although unclear, this chair was most likely made for St. Cloud. Sene’ provided the Queen with similar chairs to Versailles and the Tuileries, but it appears to resemble a St. Cloud set.

Although the upholstery is modern, it is based upon a wax model from 1780.I have seen charming clay mockups of chairs, always enchanting. To see the delightful swags in silk is a joy.

I am at all moments a sucker for gessoes furniture, particularly in creamy white and French grey, partly gilt?, I’m hopelessly lost.

The Queens monogram is visible, just in case you were wondering who the chair belonged.

The St. Cloud set has a sphinx -head motif, this chair has the bust of Diana.

Really shockingly beautiful attention to detail. Love the little crescent mood, alluding to the goddess.

The beauty continues, this is a detail of the leg. The chair initially had small bun feet. Hacked off in 1895, replaced with castors.


I love castor-ed chairs, but how the hell do you mutilate such a chair. Now that the damage has been done, I do fancy the castors, so very handy.

This chair was recorded in a St.Cloud inventory , 1789. It will pop up at a bankruptcy sale in 1837, it’s history will continue until it finally reaches the V&A. I imagine the poor chair misses the Queen’s tush.

Marie Antoinette Josephe Jeanne de Habsbourg-Lorraine

2nd November 1755-16th October 1793


Elizabeth Vigee’ Lebrun


Blue Velvet Bustle for Grace

Posted in 19th cent., Augustine Martin & Company, Fashion-art on May 12, 2010 by babylonbaroque

From what I understand the Costume Institute at the Met has received a huge boon in that the Brooklyn Museum is relinquishing it’s sizable collection of high fashion. Many new pieces will be added to their own impressive holdings.

Fashion, in how it controls the body, creates a desired form, and the power and language of fashion is of great interest to me. The following dress, though delightful to behold would have driven any clear thinking Bloomer -wearing Suffragette mad.

This particular dress, is an example of the bustle at it’s most extreme. First appearing in the 60’s it eventually morphed into the iconic “shelf” silhouette.

Afternoon dress


Augustine Martin



Another piece by the Augustine Martin & company, also formerly at the Brooklyn Museum, is the puffed sleeve jacket. It too would have appeared unrelentingly confining to a Suffragette.


silk, jet, beads


I’m crazy for the extreme  silhouettes  that were achieved, but then again I didn’t have to wear it.

Given how my niece cannot handle being bundled into winter garb, she will  most likely sympathize with the Costume Reformers.

Sabbath chair/Hunzinger, week 12

Posted in 19th cent., chair, Fashion-art, Huntington, Hunzinger, Renaissance Revival on May 8, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I have been mad for Hunzinger since I stumbled upon one of his screwball chairs at my beloved Huntington, close to home in beautiful Pasadena.

I frankly had never seen anything so peculiar, what was he doing with all of that “knobby” work, the chair appeared articulated, I had an intense desire to fold up the Renaissance Revival monstosity, stow it under my arm, and take the thing home.

Instead I present this monstrous beauty from the Brooklyn Museum.


George Jacob Hunzinger


born Germany


Ebonized wood, castors (always a sucker for castors),

original upholstery


approx. dimensions 43x26x28

The shredded yellow fabric is original, had been purple damask. Of course it was purple.

Another example of his wacky designs, this too looks like it should articulate, from the description, it doesn’t appear to. Some of Hunzinger’s designs do fold, perhaps it was an aesthetic he admired and pursued.

I love the machine made quality of the piece, although highly ornamented in the Renaissance Revival style, it still doesn’t hide the mechanical qualitiy of the chair. It calls to mind the current fad for Steam Punk, the hybrid expression of 19th century surface ornament with Industrial Revolution’s engineering. This chair shares that aesthetic, and I love it .

My Beloved dismisses it as a “failed experiment”, as in so often the case when it comes to taste, he is quite wrong.

I can’t resist sharing the first Hunzinger,snapped with my phone, as I mentioned it is held by the Huntington Museum.


walnut, gilding. brass, brocaded fabric


Good Shabbos

Yet another dress for Grace/ “Four Leaf Clover”, Chas. James

Posted in 20th century, Auntie Mame, Charles James, Fashion-art, Woodson&Rummerfield with tags on May 5, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I just finished a collaboration with the LA design duo, Woodson &Rummerfield, the theme being “Auntie Mame”. It is part of the Legends of La Cienaga event to be held this week here in LA. It is a decorative mural inspired by the Mame set, it’s in the window at Baker, please check it and the fabulous room out.

So not only was I looking for a dress to please my niece, I also wanted to satisfy the demands of dear Mame.

I think Mame would love this bit of brilliance by Charles James.

“Four Leaf Clover”Dress



Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906-1978)

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Really, it’s just a simple little cotton summer frock, so perfect with daisies and chilled jug white.

A bit of summertime magic.

Thanks Mr. James.

Post Script: Just a sample of the sketchy brushwork depicting Mame’s set.