Archive for January, 2011

Jean-Frédéric Bazille, Eros Hidden in Plain Sight

Posted in 19th Century, Duncan Grant, Gay, Jean-Frédéric Bazille, Renoir, Veronese on January 26, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Many of my readers will be quite familiar with this image; in addition to its obvious beauty,  it most likely has titillated at least a few.

Fisherman With A Net

1868

Bazille was 27 when he painted this, a year away from his untimely death. Harsh critics have quibbled about his work, begrudgingly placing him amongst his friends and fellow Impressionists  Renoir, Monet and Sisley. I am perplexed at this  hesitation, there may be some youthful clumsiness in the background figure (I wish I were so clumsy), but I suspect what really keeps Bazille out of Olympus is the rather blatant homoeroticism of his work.

Summer Scene

1869

Fogg Art Museum

The gorgeous coloring, the classical poses and the confident brushwork are to the author far more appealing then so much of Renoir’s saccharine confections; yet Bazille is often not mentioned or as well known to the Water-lily loving set. I see shades of Poussin and Puvis de Chavannes, but perhaps I am over-reaching.



Self -portrait

1865-1866

Art Institute of Chicago

There is no evidence of Bazille’s being homosexual, but some have assumed . This young fellow from Montpellier, of middle class background and independent means, rejected his father’s desire to pursue medicine to take up painting in 1862. His social and artistic circle included as i mentioned before Renoir, Monet and Sisley, but it also included Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire; one would be excused for making assumptions.

As Bazille was financially more secure then his painting chums, he was more then open to sharing his studio.

As you can see it is artfully decorated, the lilac walls a charming touch.


Bazille’s Studio;9 rue de la Condamine

1870

Difficult to not notice the absence of the fairer sex, I enjoy seeing Fisherman With A Net on the wall.


Self-portrait

1870

In addition to self-portraits and interior views, Bazille and his fellow painters took turns posing and painting. This portrait of Renoir reminds me of certain paintings by Duncan Grant most particularly the portrait of his lover Maynard Keynes.

Portrait of Renoir

Bazille

1867

At least to this author there is a certain intimacy to this image, that feels quite similar to the sexiness of Grant’s work.

Bazille was painted by Renoir in 1867, it lacks that sensual quality.


Bazille At His Studio

Renoir

1867

Musée d’Orsay

source

Perhaps in addition to the underlying eroticism of some of his work; Bazille had a finely developed sense of the lovely. His floral painting are lush, rich with color and tickle the senses; qualities critics usually reject.


Flowers

1868

African Woman With Peonies

1870

I particularly love this painting, feels so Venetian, so reminiscent of Veronese.

Bazille was also able to capture the modest charm of a dog in one’s studio, a subject that is particularly dear to my heart.

The Dog Rita Asleep

1864

Although Bazille could have avoided military service, he chose to enlist, dying tragically in battle on the 28th of November 1870.

We will never know what wonders he could have produced, his death a gain for Mars, a loss for Man.


self-portrait

Jean-Frédéric Bazille

b. 6th December 1841

d.28th november 1870

Recquiscat in Pace

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

 

A Moment for Louis XVI

Posted in 18th century, Bourbon monarchy, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Recquiscat in Pace, Sans-culotte, Uncategorized on January 20, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As it is now 5:15 am in the city of Paris, in a few hours there will be an opportunity to either celebrate or mourn depending upon your ideology. Two hundred and eighteen years ago, Louis Auguste de France,better known as Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre was executed on the 21st of January 1793; the maddening crowds who had  gathered to see the only king of France executed, let out “shouts of joy” at 10:30 am.

The King was dead.

I am only an armchair historian, dilettantish at best; but I am romantic, Louis’s tale is tragic, I merely want to honor his death.


Louis XVI

portrait rondel

1787

Philippe-Laurent Roland

1746-1816

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Often remembered as the king who wished to be a locksmith, Marie Antoinette’s star burnt much brighter, her image more glamorous , it is easy for the casual historian to overlook Louis XVI. From the accounts I have read, he was a man of intelligence and devotion to God, his country, and his family. His indecisiveness has been recently attributed to symptoms of clinical depression; as the spouse of a psychologist, I am eager to look into this.

But as I said I am not a historian, for now, I will just present images of the late king.


Louis XVI, King of France

painted porcelain

18th century

Louis XVI

aged 22

b.23rd august 1754

d.21st January 1793

King of France and Navarre 1174-1791

King of the French 1791-1792

painted 1776

Joseph-Siffred Duplessis

1725-1802

Musée national du Chåteau et des Trianons

Versailles

Recquiscat in Pace

As King of the French, the king and his image underwent many humiliations;this engraving from happier times, 1775, was defaced in 1792, the king now known as Louis Capet is seen wearing the phrygian cap of the sans-culotte. It’s an unfortunate image.

source

Ultimately the king and his family endured being separated from one another when the comfort of family was most needed.

Louis XVI at the Tour du Temple

Jean-Francois Garneray

1755-1837

Death of Louis XVI,King of France

English Engraving

1798

If interested, and you are fluent in French, there is a site devoted to the late king.

Musically the memory of the king lives on,the following Funeral March for the Death of the King LouisXVI by Pavel Wranitzky carries the torch for his majesty.

Pavel Wranitzky

1756-1808

Over two centuries ago Louis Capet was having his prayerbook fetched at six o’clock in the morning.

Say a little prayer for the man.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


Daisy, an ode to joy

Posted in Daisy, Epileptic pugs, Moses, Pug Rescue, Pugs on January 17, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I lost my beloved pug -dog Daisy early Friday morning, her death was very unexpected, the angel of death struck swiftly.

I ask for my readers’ indulgence as this post will for the most part be self serving; to honor Daisy’s memory, alleviate some of the grief, and to spread the joy Daisy possessed in abundance.

I would understand perfectly if you passed over this post, but I hope you do not.


Daisy née Savannah

b. 1st of January 2004

d. 14th of January 2011, around 8:30 am

Recquiscat in Pace little girl.


Daisy entered our life when we were living in Ft.Lauderdale, the Beloved wanted a pug, I was quite content being a one pup household, Speck(aka Gooch) the adorable chihuahua brought enough joy.

Thankfully the Better Half insisted.

We located a young pup, through the  Miami based Compassionate Pug Rescue, she was  nine months old, full of vigor, and possessing this ridiculous tongue. You had to laugh.

She made quite a splash, literally, upon first meeting us, she darted outside and jumped directly into the pool. We were aghast, I jumped in fully dressed, and rescued her. I think my “valor” impressed the adoption agent, I for one was hooked on Daisy.


Daisy Pup

about 9 months old

Daisy came with the name Savannah which we did not think fitting, we easily changed the name.

Daisy also came with epilepsy, less easy to remedy.

Soon after adoption she suffered a series of seizures. Although spooky, she recovered quickly from them, seemingly oblivious to what had just happened. We tinkered with a variety of treatments, starting off with phenobarbital, which proved unsatisfactory. Our wise veterinarian suggested we give old fashioned potassium bromide a try, it was proving to be an effective treatment for epilepsy with little side effects; fortunately Daisy proved to be a successful candidate, we hadn’t experienced a seizure until her final day.

Thank you Dr.Cox.

Our seven years with Daisy were a joy, she had many moods, and aside from greed and envy, all positive:

she was playful,


silly,

regal,

flirtatious,

and often quite lazy, being so charming was apparently quite exhausting,

We of course adored them all, even when she was naughty.

Daisy was my loyal studio companion, providing charming (if sleepy) company,

and ultimately inspiration,

Daisy

oil on canvas

2010

by the author

Daisy was not the sporty type, not given to exercise. Her notion of a hike was being carried up Runyon Canyon. Speck the chihuahua adores a good hike, Daisy preferred a nice lounge in the shade.

the author with Daisy, Speck and Buddy (off camera)

Runyon Canyon

June 2007

Aside from napping,

Daisy was quite the sport in dressing up, she may not have enjoyed the outfits, but she certainly relished the attention.

spooky

Halloween 2008

We were officially married during that brief window of opportunity,  pre Prop 8.

Daisy was of course part of the celebration. Acting as  our hostess/flower girl, she adored having the  crowd of friends and family  in our little West Hollywood condo; she had captive  fans to charm and seduce.

Ultimately all that seduction proved exhausting.


July 3rd 2008


When we moved to downtown LA, Daisy and the boys settled right in, trading in happy green West Hollywood grass for doggie park astro turf.

They didn’t seem to mind,, home was where we were.

That’s why I love dogs.

Daisy, Speck/Gooch (left), Buddy (right)

Sept 2010

I couldn’t have imagined that this would have been her last birthday, frankly I almost forgot. Thankfully I was reminded, and we gave Daisy extra fussing ( and I confess filet mignon).


Daisy the birthday clown.

January 1st 2011

7 years old.

That image frankly breaks my heart, if I had known…

fortunately my new phone has a handy recording device, I plan to more diligently secure memories for the future.

Daisy’s absence has reduced our little family, when our beautiful Manx Moses died in early December we became acutely aware of how loud the sound of  absence is.

Like Moses, Daisy haunts our home and hearts.

Fortunately we have dear Antigone our little calico, and Speck  and Buddy to help heal our grief.

Buddy and Speck

Although Daisy’s little torch of life has been extinguished her memory continues to tickle us with joy, granted right now through a veil of tears.

We will adopt again, most likely another pug, there is a local pug rescue, Happy Ending ; when it is appropriate we will meet another little pug. In addition to soothing our hearts, adopting another will honor Daisy’s generous spirit.

We want to consider another “special needs” pug.


I will close with silliness, as Daisy was the mistress of silliness.

I appreciate your indulgence.

Respectfully submitted,

Leonard @ babylonbaroque

La Tentation de Saint Antoine, Georges Mélliès, 1898

Posted in Cézanne, Georges Melies, Saint Anthony the Abbot, Tintoretto, Veronese on January 12, 2011 by babylonbaroque

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Paolo Veronese

1552

Musée d’Orsay

Paris

( A personal favorite, from an artist I particularly love, such a simple image, yet captures the poor bugger’s torment.)

January 17th, in addition to being the day we honor Dr. King , is also the feast day of Saint Anthony the Abbot. This Egyptian ascetic of the early church is best known to art lovers as the subject of countless  variations upon the theme of Temptation of Saint Anthony . As the Epiphany provided artists with its Magi, gold and Orientalist glamour; so does  the humble Anthony, with his sackcloth, skull and crucifix as his only protection, the dear hermit pitches battle with worldly temptation.

Many artists(myself included) have attempted to capture with paint that familiar struggle to live a life of virtue and truth only to be confronted time and again by worldly desires and values. I’m not speaking of orthodox faith, I speak of the most mundane struggles, creating art vs. mindless internet searches, Tolstoy vs. True Blood.

The theme  of temptation is so rich, how does an artist resist depicting these wanton demons?

Few do,  Georges Mélliès was no exception. I really love this little film of 1898, he  captures the spirit of the early depictions of the dear saint and his merciless vixens.


Really, has there ever been a more delightful version of The Temptation of Saint Anthony ???

I particularly love how he kisses the skull over the lusty temptresses.

The following  two paintings are so very close to the Mélliès interpretation that I am tempted to believe they might be inspiration.


The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Cornelis Saftleven

1629

private collection

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Lucas van Leyden

1530

Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts

Brussels

Tintoretto presented a fleshy sexy earthy version of the temptation,


The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Tintoretto

1577

San Trovaso

Venice

I was surprised to find a version by Cézanne, I don’t particularly love it, but it is of interest,


The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Paul Cézanne

1875

Musée d’Orsay

Paris

 

The final image, from an artist I am unfamiliar with, has taken full advantage of the monstrous delights offered by Lust, Greed and Avarice.


The Temptation of Saint anthony

Bernardino Parenzano

1494

Galleria Doria-Pamphili Rome

St. Anthony was known for his great desire to become holy, his attempts at holiness were to emulate his Savior. He is famous for saying “if you think me holy, become what I am , for we ought to imitate the good”.

From a secular artistic perspective, I plan, as an artist to emulate the above mentioned masters in their desire to capture universal struggles and truths. I look forward to one day producing a Temptation worth presenting, perhaps next feast day.

I submit this post a bit early, I must leave town for a family matter. I fear I am such a Luddite that I would n never be able to submit from my I-phone.

So with that, I send early wishes for a happy feast Day of the Blessed Saint Anthony of the Desert.

Respecctfully,

Babylon Baroque

Edward Gorey’s Timeless Dracula

Posted in 20th century, Dracula, Edward Gorey, Frank Langella on January 11, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Just last week the New York Times had given a withering review of the latest production of Dracula, having opened at the Little Schubert Theater last Wednesday. I confess I thought the review a bit harsh, but from Mr. Isherwood’s description the production did seem insipid; Isherwood has fine judgement, I take him at his word.

Evidently so did those that matter, for in today’s paper we are informed the curtain has closed.

Isherwood made the point of remembering with fondness that earlier incarnation of the Undead Count, the 1977 Broadway revival of  Hamilton Deane and John Balderstone’s play based upon the Stoker novel which had first opened in 1927.

The  1977 production that so many remember, starred the very dashing Frank Langella ,with costumes and sets by Edward Gorey.

I always loved how Gorey’s magic both enhanced the spookiness and poked fun at our fear.

source

Frank Langella in the title role

source

I must say with the passage of time I had forgotten how good looking Langella was, how romantic his interpretation, and the intense charm of Gorey’s design work.

source

I thank Mr. Isherwood for the reminder.


I confess I never had the chance as a boy to see the Broadway production, but I was able to see Langella in the title role in the 1979 film version. I doubt it compared to the Gorey confection but I was still swept away; I am from New Jersey after all.


source

Although hardly original ,I close with that bit of Gorey we all  probably know and I dare say, all  love.


Thank you Mr.Gorey

b. 22nd February 1925

d. 15th April 2000

Recquiscat in Pace


Donn P. Crane, Man of Mystery Revealed

Posted in 20th century, Chats with Color Kin, Divine Comedy, Donn P. Crane, Faust, My Book House on January 6, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Back in July of last year I made a post Man of Mystery, Donn P. Crane about a childhood idol, the illustrator Donn P. Crane.

As I mentioned in the post, Crane’s magical illustrations sustained me through a challenging childhood, providing me with a glimpse into a world  far removed from my own grim reality. I feel deeply indebted to the man, his work encouraged my interests, developed my taste, and broadened my horizons.

Once again I say thank you Mr. Crane.

I was shocked to discover how little information was out there concerning Donn P. Crane, a very prolific artist, of immense talents,had left barely a trace.

I had hoped to remedy that in some way with my modest post.

I was thunderstruck when his grand-daughter  Ann contacted me with information concerning this great artist.

That she happened to contact me on my birthday only added to my joy.


Donn P. Crane

b. 1878

d. 1944

Recquiscat in Pace

I really enjoy this image, he is so sweet faced, seems quite kind; his work reflects that tenderness.


I must confess I hesitate to release these images, my greedy nature wishes to hoard the treasures. That wouldn’t be fair to Crane’s legacy.

From his grand-daughters telling, Donn P. Crane  was born in Missouri in 1878, the son of Day Otis Crane. Day Otis Crane, a failed miner, was unable to provide the stability so essential to childhood; perhaps young Donn retreated early on into the magical world of illustration for a sense of security and solace. I hope so.

From Missouri the family moved to Washington D.C. when young Donn was two; another move, this time to to Idaho  was where a sister and two brothers were born, unfortunately the brothers did not survive. The Crane family ultimately settled in Chicago sometime before 1890. Young Donn was involved with a theatre troupe, this early  involvement with the stage is clearly reflected in some of his more dramatic illustrations.

Illustration from A Dream of the Middle Ages;from the Italian of The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri

My Book House

Illustration from Faust

My Book House

Upon his mother’s death, Donn moved ,as so many artists have, to New Mexico. Amidst the grand landscape Donn found inspiration, I imagine it was particularly liberating after the restrictions of monetary deprivation and urban chaos.

The following illustration, provided by the family, is from the New Mexico period. It is quite a gem.

1908

New Mexico

Donn did return to Chicago  in 1909 where he began his long and quite prolific career.

The following image from Chats with Color Kins 1909 was his first professional illustrating job. The book was published by the Theosophical Press of Wheaton Illinois.


Chats with Color Kin

1909

Donn married in 1911, began his family with a daughter in 1912, and a son ,  also named Donn Philip Crane, in 1915 ( the father of Ann).

What is so impressive, and frankly dis-heartening as an artist, is that Donn was self taught. Ann describes finding self improving books on art instruction (in German) and puppetry amongst his belongings. His skill was so advanced, it is difficult to comprehend that he was without training; clearly a keen observer.

The following image is tagged “Brain Storm” by the family, it is a touching image. I love the carefully stacked volumes, possible sources of inspiration?

Brain Storm

Donn Philip Crane senior died in 1944, not receiving the laurels he deserved, but he did leave behind a family devoted to preserving his legacy.

I sincerely thank the Crane family for sharing these very special treasures.

Illustration from A Dream of the Middle Ages; from the Italian of the DivineComedy by Dante Aligheri

My Book House

 

Respectfully submitted,

BabylonBaroque

Feast Day of the Epiphany

Posted in Feast of the Epiphany, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Hieronymus Bosch, Nicholas Poussin, Orientalist, Sandro Botticelli on January 5, 2011 by babylonbaroque

January 6th is the feast day of the Epiphany, a time for many of us to tear down the tree, stash the glitter for our more somber decor, and with  a certain melancholy, be happy the hub-bub is over.

It is of course also when , to believers, the infant was revealed as the Son of God.

Adoration of the Magi with Saint Anthony Abbot

about 1390-1410

Unknown

Franco-Flemish

Getty Museum

The very word epiphany is a joy to say, it sounds magical, sacred, not of this mundane world.

Within this very special world ,where beautiful infants reveal their identity as gods, three visitors with names equally exhilarating, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar; artists have found intense inspiration. What artist can resist this scene, the mother and child, the barnyard beasts, the shepherds, and the Kings, with rare gifts, who would want to resist?


Adoration of the Magi

Georges Lallemant

before 1624

Adoration of the Magi

Francesco Bassano

1567-69

The Hermitage

It is unfortunately quite doubtful that the Magi were so majestically dressed, little baby Jesus would have enjoyed the spectacle.

What we do know comes from Matthew 2:1 ,

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem”.

“From the east” is what we had to run with, and artistic  imagination certainly ran. Balthasar a striking Moor, Casper and Melchior representing Orientalist fantasies of Persia and India, all so grand.

Those far wiser then this author have suggested the Magi hailed from Persia, with connections to Zoroaster, some have suggested Babylon ( which of course I would prefer). Early images of the Magi, will often have them wearing Phrygian caps.


Roman catacomb painting

Caspar

Ravenna

Basillica de Santa Maria Maggiore

c.430

Rome

Coming from the east, they made a pit stop at Herod’s palace,

Then Herod, when he had prively called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared”

Matthew 2:7.


Three Magi before Herod

early 15th century

Musée National du Moyen Ãge

I love how nasty Herod looks.

Adoration of the Magi

Duccio di Buoninisegna 1308-11

Museo dell ‘Opera de Duomo

Siena

” And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts;gold, and frankincense, and myrrh”

Matthew 2:11.

Reliquery

ca, 1200

Limoges

Musée National du Moyen Ãge

Adoration of the Magi

Jean Bourdichon

Musée du Louvre

Paris

An exciting resource for images of the Magi tale is right here in LA, the Getty Museum, this link provides a handy list.


Adoration of the Magi

Gaspare Diziani

1718

Museum of Fine Arts

Budapest

Adoration of the Magi

Sandro Botticelli

1475

Uffizi Gallery

One of my favorites,

Adoration of the Magi

Nicolas Poussin

1633

So enchanted was Gian-Carlo Mennoti by this Bosch interpretation, he was compelled to create Amahl and the Night Visitor.

Adoration of the Magi

Hieronymous Bosch

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gian-Carlo Menotti

around 1944

b.7th July 1911

d.1st February 2007

I am familiar with this operas, I am ambivalent about the music.

My hesitations concerning this work  may be due in great part to sorrowful memories of Episcopalian amateurs caterwauling Menotti’s work; I happened to once create sets for it as my church was putting on a production.

Whatever my feelings are, I am impressed that Amahl was commissioned by NBC for its NBC Opera Theatre. I have a clip from 24th of December 1951, in which it aired on the Hallmark Hall of Fame.


Happy  Feast Day of the Epiphany !

Respectfully submitted,

BabylonBaroque