Archive for May, 2011

Birthday Wishes to the Queen

Posted in 19th Century, Prince Albert, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, Queen Victoria on May 23, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As tomorrow will be the 192nd anniversary of Queen Alexandrina Victoria’s birth, I wanted to compile a little album devoted to her image.

As I never grow weary of  looking at images of the  great lady,  discussing her reign, and examining the culture that flourished under her watch, putting  this post  together was quite a  treat. Most of the images were pulled from  the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A.

Queen Victoria

(Golden Jubilee, 1887)

b. 24th May 1819

d. 22nd January 1901

gorgeous coloring

Her Majesty’s Gracious Smile

by Charles Knight, 1887


For a queen so often  remembered as a symbol of repressive colonialism, rigid class boundaries, and overstuffed parlors chock-a-block with bric-a-brac and dusty aspidistra; I wanted to cobble together a more intimate, approachable collection. It is after all her birthday, would be bad manners to dwell upon unfortunate events.

Victoria as a child.

Hand-colored engraving, 1825-30


Charles Robert Leslie

Queen Victoria in Her Coronation Robes


oil on canvas


Queen Victoria

published 1st May 1838


circa 1837-50

Her Majesty Queen Victoria opening her first Parliament

late 1830’s


unknown artist


It isn’t possible to discuss the Queen without  Prince Albert of Saxe-Colburg-Gotha, her dashing husband; her passion for him was quite intense, “bliss beyond belief”. They married 10th February 1840.

The public understandably could not  get enough of the happy couple; the engravers satisfied their desire with an enormous amount of ephemera.

The Queen and Prince Albert’s Polka

printed 1840


Such passion inevitably brings forth royal issue, the first being Victoria, Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia.

Windsor Castle



More after that, ultimately eight children, she was not only the Queen, she was a mother.

A very marketable commodity.

The Royal Mother

1844 or after

“At Home” images became increasingly popular, they hold my interest well past the fact.

The Queen and Prince Albert at Home



Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and family



The Queen never seemed to lose her dignity,possessing that well known (often caricatured) aloof air; yet from the sheer volume  of material culture bearing her likeness it is quite apparent how fondly she was regarded.

Charles Clifford

Queen Victoria

14th November 1861

albumen carte-de-visite


From costly wall coverings,

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee


F.Scott and Son


to “street-art” stencils,



the Queen’s image seems to have been everywhere. This quitepeculiar pipe bowl of 1887 , maker unknown, really captures the Queen’s likeness;although stuffing tobacco in your monarch’s cranium seems a bit irreverent.


by Alexander Bassano


National Portrait Gallery

Although her reign was of incredible length, 63 years and 216 days ( but who’s counting?), the inevitable happens, January 22nd 1901 Her Majesty passed.This image is particularly touching with her  beloved Albert ever present.

unknown photographer, 1901


I will close with a happier image.

by Sir George Hayter


National Portrait Gallery

If you are as much a monarchy looney as I am, perhaps consider joining The British Monarchy Facebook page.

Until next time,

Babylon Baroque

Rapturous Adieu

Posted in Rapture, Rapture and the Final Judgement, Savonarola on May 21, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Just in case the Grim and the Pious are correct I would like for my Final Post to include depictions of our Last Day.

As I plan to ascend Heaven-bound, PLEASE do not grab onto my ankles, for I will be forced to kick you off.

Michelangelo Buonarroti

The Last Judgement




in situ Cappella Sistina, Vatican

Jan Provost

The Last Judgement


oil on oak panel

Groeninge Museum, Bruges

John Martin

The Great Day of His Wrath


oil on canvas

Tate Gallery, London

We have been subjected to the ominous warnings concerning our sinful nature and the wrath of our Lord for quite some time; dreary proclomations with firm deadlines have come and  they have gone, but perhaps no Doomsdayer  is as infamous as dear old Girolamo.

You know what became of him…

Girolamo Savonarola

b. 21st September 1452

executed 23rd May 1498

 depicted as St. Peter Martyr by Fra Bartolomea

San Marco Monastery, Florence

Peter Paul Rubens

Last Judgement


oil on canvas

Alte Pinakothek, Munich

If we MUST go I hope Verdi’s Dies irae will be the soundtrack, would be a lovely way to face a pissed off God.

I do hope to be around for a cocktail later this evening, but if I am swept upward, I enjoyed your company.

Until we meet again,

Babylon Baroque

Hugo Simberg, Dark Optimist

Posted in 19th Century, Hugo Simberg, Tampere Cathedral on May 15, 2011 by babylonbaroque

It is one of those rare cloudy , drizzly days here in the City of Angels; on my “desktop” sits Simberg’s Garden of Death , I felt today may be a good day to explore this Finnish master.

Simberg, best known for his themes of Death, the Devil, and Youth, seems to grapple with notions concerning  mortality, the very  joy of breathing, and the ever present specter of decay. Although I at  times feel uncomfortable with his very young and very nude young boys, they may very simply depict Innocence. I must remember to look at his painting through the prism of his culture.

What is very apparent is the wit in which he depicts themes that in less capable hands would have resorted to mere macabre cliche.

Garden of Death


oil on canvas

Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki

Peasant and Death at the Gates of Heaven and Hell


Two watercolors glued on canvas

Finnish National Gallery

Self Portrait


b. 24th of June 1873

d. 12th July 1917

From the following  1896 photo with his sister Blenda (which he snapped himself with a time release camera)  I sense a charming joy that he seems unable to contain. That joy resurfaces time and again with his impish Devils and goofy depictions of somber Death.

Hugo and Blenda Simberg


They really are both too adorable, love her cap.

Devil by the Pot



Finnish National Gallery

In 1904 he receives the commission to decorate the interior of the Evangelical Lutheran Saint John’s Church , the Garden of Death will appear as a fresco, more subtle, but just as delightful and just as haunting.

Garden of Death



Tampere Cathedral, Finland

It is within this sacred space we see Simberg further explore his themes of Death and Youth. His imagery is fresh and new, yet harkens to traditional church decoration. His Garden of Death, not unlike medieval depiction of the Final Judgement, the difference with Simberg’s work is you smile as you shudder.

The Garland of Life frieze stands in sharp contrast to his flower culling skeletons.

Garland of Life



One would assume the boys we see in his frieze decoration are inspired by his early photography of young boys. These are the images that cause me to pause with discomfort.

Guido, Fish Boy


Whatever truth lies behind the images, innocent or tainted, the frieze is indeed spectacular.

The ceiling decoration recalls to this author the great Dragon motif of Brighton Pavilion.

Snake Fresco



For a tour of the interior, please check out the following clip, the quality is quite poor, but gives a good sense of the relationship to the work and the architecture, which is surprisingly conventional. 

Tampere Cathedral /St John’s Church

completed 1907

Simberg is best known for his painting the Wounded Angel, but he created a large body of work that is well worth examining.

Wounded Angel


oil on canvas

Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki

Dance on the Quay




Syksy I


Syksy II


I find inspiration in Simberg’s work, I hope to research his life more deeply; my cursory exploration has unearthed scant information.

Until then, I sign off with this final image, one I enjoy immensely, as I have a great fondness for peacock decorated fabric, puppets AND starlings, what more can one ask for?



If I have unintentionally screwed up spelling of titles, location, etc., please pardon my ignorance and indicate where I have erred.

Have a marvelous sunday, the clouds have broken in LA, I will now go out for a quick run.

Take care, 

Babylon Baroque

William Etty, R.A. , crossing the line of Victorian propriety

Posted in 19th Century, Aubrey Beardsley, Babylon Beefcake, John Everett Millais, R.A. on May 6, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I am now reading Linda Gertner Zatlin’s excellent Beardsley Japonisme and the perversion of the Victorian ideal ; in her  study of fin de siecle subversiveness she references  William Etty.   William Etty’s historical and allegorical paintings were frequently criticized by his contemporaries as  being mere excuses to portray fleshy pulchritude. As Zatlin states his paintings “broke the code of acceptable public decorum”, the beauty he portrayed flagrantly crossed that cultural  line violating the unspoken yet understood decree that art be free of open sexuality.

Although best known for his glorious female figures, I rather predictably will focus on the male nude.

I appreciate the indulgence.

Reclining male nude, raised right knee


oil on millboard


With this study as an example it is clear wht Zatlin states that Victorians were far more comfortable with the subtle eroticism of Millais’s Mariana (1851).

John Everett Millais



oil on board


Mariana’s languor though apparent is respectable, Etty was not inclined to that sort of respectability, thank goodness.

William Etty, R.A.

Sleeping Nymph and Satyrs


oil on canvas

Royal Academy

Etty was masterful at depicting the nude and wisely ignored the demand that he “turn from his wicked ways” and create paintings “fit for decent company”.

I must be quite indecent and quite wicked for  I love William Etty and his flamboyantly sensual paintings.

Male nude, arms upstretched

Study of male nude


oil on paper on board

Royal Academy

Hero, Having Thrown herself from the Tower at the Sight of Leander Drowned, dies on his Body

exhibited 1829


For those of you in the U.K. what appears to be a  marvelous exhibition William Etty: Art and Controversy will open June 25th (closing January 12th 2012) at the York Art Gallery. I hope you can catch it, I plan to pre-order the catalog.

William Etty, R.A.

b. 10 March 1787

d. 13 November 1849

monument to Etty, erected 1911, in front of the York Art Gallery

Study of a peacock for ‘The Judgement of Paris’


oil on board


Wishing all a good weekend,

Babylon Baroque