Archive for the 18th century Category

Remembering the Ladies Behind the Men

Posted in 18th century, 19th cent., Martha Washington, Mary Todd Lincoln on February 21, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Wishing  my countrymen a happy Presidents Day!

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington

wife to the first President of the United States

b. 2nd of June 1731

d. 22nd of  May 1802


Mary Ann (née Todd) Lincoln

wife of the 16th President of the United States

b. 13th of December 1818

d. 16th of  July 1882

“Lady Washington”

Mrs. Lincoln

1850-1856

Martha Dandridge Custis

after the 1757 painting by John Wollaston

Mrs. Lincoln

Thank you Ladies!

Happy Presidents Day,

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Advertisements

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


The Bounty of Demeter,a moment of praise

Posted in 17th century, 18th century, 19th cent., Demeter, Frederic Leighton, Hendrick Goltzius, Palissy, Peter Paul Rubens on November 22, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As the frantic rush for the upcoming day of gluttony fasts approaches , I have turned to thoughts of Demeter, goddess of the Harvest.

Ceres mit zwei Nymphen

Peter Paul Rubens

Franz Snyder

ca. 1620-1628

source

Demeter is best known for the horror of her loss, her  beloved daughter Persephone swept to the underworld in a rage of Pluto’s lust. In her anguish, Demeter tears cause the world to chill, germinating seed wither within their husks, and man huddles hungry and fearful, at the mercy of his gods.

Pluto and Proserpina

ca. 1565-1571

Vincenzo de Rossi

bronze

V&A

Pluto Abducting Proserpine

Francois Girardon

ca. 1693-1710

bronze

The Getty Center, Los Angeles

Of course this situation cannot continue, if the altar remain bare, will the gods continue to exist?

Worship provides the deities identity.

Like a marriage gone awry, Demeter and Pluto arrange visitation rights.  Having tasted of the Fruit of the Dead, the pomegranate, Persephone will remain in Hades one month per kernel eaten.The Earth shall remain darkened by Demeter’s shroud of grief until this time has passed.

Upon release, Persephone back in the arms of devoted Demeter, seed will once again sprout, life will begin anew.

The Return of Persephone

1891

Frederic Leighton

It is indeed time to give thanks.

Statue of Ceres

oil on wood

ca. 1612-1615

Peter Paul Rubens

Hermitage, St.Petersburg

source

Demeter, or her Roman equivalent have been a popular motif in fine and decorative arts. The allusions to bounty and the table too great a temptation.

Ceres

17th cent., after 1652

after design by Michel Anguier

bronze

V&A

From bronze to porcelain her figure has delighted.

The Goddess Ceres

ca. 1765

William Dueberg and Company

soft paste porcelain

V&A

I have a great fondness for the theme Without Bacchus and Ceres , Venus Grows Cold, the artist Hendrick Goltzius was particularly adept at depicting the scene; lewd and  provocative, they still delight.

ca.1602

 

 

ca.1599

Perhaps more chaste, yet no less delightful, this calling card depicts our Goddess o’ Plenty.

Decorative Design

ca. 1750

artist unknown

pen and ink, red chalk on paper

V&A

Demeter continued to be a popular theme well into the 19th century as this staged image attests.

Actress Fanny Coleman as Ceres

Guy Little Theatrical Photograph

1864

V&A

As no Thanksgiving spread is complete without a gravy boat, I thought this little number would suit the theme.

Sauce Boat

ca.1550-1600

Bernard Palissy

Paris

lead glazed earthenware

V&A

Wishing everyone the bounty of the season,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Babylon Baroque


Marie Antoinette la Reine Martyre

Posted in 18th century, Basilica of Saint-Denis, Bourbon monarchy, French-American, Jacques Louis David, Kucharski, Marie Antoinette, R.I.P., Vigee Le Brun on October 15, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Before we begin the frivolities of the weekend, I thought it important to remember that tomorrow, October 16th , at 12:15 p.m. marks the 217th anniversary of this great woman’s murder.

Recquiscat in Pace

Queen Marie Antoinette of France

b. 2nd November 1755

d. 16th October 1793, 12:15 pm

Daughter of Empress Maria Theresia of Austria and  Holy Roman Emperor Franz I. Stephan of Austria

ca. 1786

Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun

Art Institute, Detroit

(of all places)

There are two anniversaries on the annual calendar that  upon my ritual reading of the events causes my heart to ache. The first being the reading of the Passion , the second being the cruelties inflicted upon Marie Antoinette that October morning 1793. Faith and politics aside, both illustrate man’s ability to disregard humanity , particularly shocking when faced with another who has been reduced to abject wretchedness. My great hope is that I would rise above such base behavior, but even Peter found strength elusive.

I love this image of the Queen by Alexandre Kucharski (ca. 1791).

It expresses a great humanity, unlike so many of the “glamour” shoots which we are most familiar with.

The softness of her coloring, the luminous quality of her skin prompting Vigée Le Brun to comment that the Queen’s skin “so transparent that it allowed no shadow,”.

Source: Antonia Fraser

As much as I may admire the subtle humanity captured by Kucharsky, we have all fallen for her  royal public image.

Be it a formal court painting, inspiring reverence and awe,

or a fashion spread, few have been able to ignore her charms ; save for humorless republicans and godless anarchists.

To our very day, folks who share a love of glamour, romance, and style find inspiration in the Martyr Marie.

My dear friend Patrick Ediger of the design house French American has wittily designed a new fabric due out this winter.

It has been dubbed Queen of Pop, I am particularly attracted to the “chandelier” head dress.

Queen of Pop

French American

Winter 2010

click for detail.

As an aspiring artist I am particularly touched by Vigée Le Brun’s remembrance of an awkward moment before the Queen. After having cancelled a sitting with the Queen due to illness, Le Brun went to apologize the next day ;the Queen graciously cancelled her  own scheduled plans for an impromptu sitting. The Queen’s kindness caused Le Brun to fumble .

” I remember that, in my confusion and my eagerness to make a fitting response to her kind words,I opened my paint-box so excited that I spilled my brushes on the floor. I stooped down to pick them up. “Never mind, never mind,” said the Queen, and for aught I could say, she insisted on picking them all up herself…”. source

Le Brun, a favored and ridiculously prolific court painter, remained true to the memory of Her Majesty. Her allegiance complicated matters when the upstart Napoleon sat upon the republican throne.

Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun

b. 16th March 1755

d. 30th March 1842

If interested her fascinating memoir is easily downloaded.

In the early hours of October 16th 1793, Marie Antoinette demonstrated her courage and faith in a final letter to her sister-in law, Madame Elizabeth:

“October 16. 4:40 in the morning

I have just been condemned to death, not to a shameful death, that can only be for criminals, but in order to rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to demonstrate the same firmness as he did at the end. I am calm, as people are whose conscience is clear. My deepest regret is at having to abandon our poor children; you know that I only lived on for them and for you, my good and tender sister.”

source: Marie Antoinette, the Journey, Antonia Frazer, pg. 436

Denying the Queen the dignity of Widows Weeds, “Antoinette Capet”was forced to wear a common white dress. The trip to the guillotine was designed to be a trail of humiliation.

The Queen would defy their base intentions.

The hateful David took pleasure in depicting the Queen in her final humiliating moments. Her critics saw imperial Hapsburg haughtiness, justification for their cruel perversions; I see a woman of great breeding, brutally shorn of hair, a sad cap with a few black ribbons of morning, a body and spirit broken, forced to sit in a donkey cart. Willful hatefulness only elicited dignity from this great Queen.

Final sketch by the odious David.

Her breeding and innate kindness apparent even as she approached the blade. Having stepped upon her executioner’s foot, she instinctively apologized, ” I did not do it on purpose”.

For all of her perceived  “sins” that is perhaps a fitting response.

True to the Catholic faith , she chided the false priest Abbé Girard when he suggested she gather her courage.

This great Queen , daughter of the great Empress Maria Theresia did not require this traitor’s words of encouragement.

“Courage! The moment when my ills are going to end is not the moment when courage is going to fail me.”

Well put dear Queen.

Much of her reputation has been restored, aside from the tiresome”cake” references, many folks hold a tender place in their hearts for this unfortunate woman.

Her final resting spot, the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

source

So tomorrow, no matter what your time zone, a t 12:15 pm give a “shout-out ” to dear Marie Antoinette.

Viva la Reine!

Viva la Reine!

Viva la Reine!


Have a great weekend.

Respectfully submitted,

BabylonBaroque

image sources

Recquiscat in Pace Princesse de Lamballe

Posted in 18th century, Bourbon monarchy, Marie Antoinette, Princesse de Lamballe, Sans-culotte on September 8, 2010 by babylonbaroque

How the hell I let the 3rd pass without honoring Marie Antoinette’s greatest friend, I haven’t a clue.

But today is that great lady’s birthday, so she must be honored, happy 218th birthday sweet Princesse.

On September 3rd 1792 Princesse de Lamballe was brutally murdered and mutilated by roving mobs of madmen, primarily the sans culottes, hungry for “liberty” and blood.  Please refer to sidebar for more info on the Sans Culottes.

Princess Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy -Carignan, Princess of Lamballe

b. September 8th 1749

d. September 3rd 1792

Her end, part of a wave of horror known as the September Massacres, was a violent bloody affair. God knows her final thoughts , loyal to the end to her great friends, Marie and Louis,  she was separated from Marie earlier in “92. A pity for both women to have lost the companionship of one another when it was needed most urgently.

The evil crowds blaspheming her in name and ultimately in body , placed her head upon a pike. A grisly gift they thought fit for a Divine Sovereign.

Recquiscat in Pace dear Princesse.

It is also appropriate to remember the others martyred defending the Faith : the 24 True priests, massacred on route to the prison/Abbe of Saint Germain, the  150 other priests brutally murdered in a Carmelite sanctuary, the brave-hearted Swiss Guard, the average common Catholic, loyal to his King and his God.

Pax Vobiscum

Feeling Blue in the White House; the Blue Room and it’s various incarnations.

Posted in 18th century, 19th cent., 20th century, Aesthetic Movement, architecture, bergere, President Chester Arthur, Tiffany & Comp., White House on September 8, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I have read that blue is the color favored by most folks, men in particular. After having been critical of President Obama’s timid attempts at redecoration , I thought it fair to show examples of color.

Beginning with the beautiful Blue Room seemed appropriate.

An early depiction, ca. President Pierce , in office 1853-1857

Old Abe didn’t do much with the place, perhaps the fancy bed Mary bought had created enough outrage.

Lincoln reception in the Blue Room.

Lincoln presidency

March 1861- April 15th 1865

Recquiscat in Pace President Lincoln

As I am now engaged in study concerning Reconstruction, President Andrew Johnson is of interest to me.

Apparently a stubborn , willful man, and a racist to boot. His decorating, left to the hand of his daughter,seems a bit rigid for my taste.

Blue Room during the Johnson administration, 1865-1869

President Andrew Johnson

Note: Andrew Johnson was the first U.S. President to be impeached.

Good old  Ulysses does a bit of redecorating. He was responsible for the new carpet, the sconces , and the impressive gasolier.

Blue Room, ca. 1874

Ulysses S. Grant administration 1869-1877

Swell guy.

My favorite Dandy President, “Elegant Arthur”, made the greatest impact. In a future post I will explore his tastes more thoroughly, but for now I will focus on the Blue Room. “Chet”, a man of fashion and style wisely chose the forward thinking Louis Comfort Tiffany to redecorate his new digs.

Blue Room refurbished by Tiffany for President Arthur, administration 1881-1885

Note the Aesthetic paper, the wild Starburst sconces.

Perfection.

Official White House portrait

President Chester (Chet) Arthur

We mustn’t forget to thank the always fabulous Louis Comfort.

Louis Comfort Tiffany

ca. 1880’s

1848-1933

Note: for years I dated a madly wonderful fellow, direct descendent of  L.C. Tiffany; the physical resemblance striking.

The collaboration truly dazzled as this coloured reconstruction demonstrates.

via Nest magazine

Recquiscat in Pace Nest magazine.

The following, another coloured depiction , ca. 1887, shows that President Cleveland made few if any changes.

Blue Room during President Grover Cleveland’s administration, 1885-1889

President Benjamin Harrison seems to have made a few patriotic changes. Do I detect a Federal crest on the ceiling?

Out with that pansy Aesthetic stuff.

What will they think, that we’re England!!

Blue Room , ca. Harrison administration 1889-1893

Another coloured view , ca. 1898, William Mc Kinley’s administration.

Blue Room, Mc Kinley administration 1897-1901

I love Teddy Roosevelt, our only self admitted Imperialist President. I love how he brashly swept away the  fusty Victoriana, bringing in his own bold ,taxidermic splendour.

The following is what he inherited.

ca. 1901

And the following to suit his own distinct taste. Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my…

Blue Room Splendor

Theodore Roosevelt Administration 1901-1909

I love the Imperial lambrequin.

The room seems to undergo few interesting changes ,

at least according to my own humble opinion.

Truman tarts it up a bit in ’52.

Blue Room

Administration of Harry S. Truman

1945-1953

Re-using Teddy’s window treatment.

It isn’t until Her Majesty Jackie ascends the throne that the magic returns.

We haven’t seen such beauty since the Tiffany/Arthur collaboration.

Drawing inspiration from the James Madison administration ( 1709-1717), a stunning room is revealed.

Blue Room

Kennedy Administration

1961-1963

Thank you Mrs. Kennedy

Perfection

I find it of interest that President Nixon felt it necessary to redecorate such a perfect room.

I do admire the chutzpah of the Napoleonic candelabra, a room should reflect it’s occupant.

Blue Room

ca. administration of President Richard Nixon

1969-1974

(As in the Nixon Oval Office, I admire the grandeur and color of the window dressings.)

Apparently the room needed further freshening up.

Here we have  Hillary acting as Decorator-in Charge.

I don’t know why I find this so amusing. She doesn’t look terribly comfortable in the role.

In closing , a detail of a Blue Room bergère, upholstered in Scalamandre silk.

Blue Room bergére

ca. 1815

Pierre-Antoine Bellange

L’Shanah Tovah my friends!

Pirate Jenny and the BullyBoys

Posted in 18th century, 20th century, Bertolt Brecht, George Grosz, John Gay/Beggar's opera, Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Marianne Faithful, The Tiger Lilies, Three Penny Opera on August 19, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As I was having breakfast with the Beloved and his colleague , a dear friend and fellow “shrink”,our conversation naturally shifted from the banalities of life to the State of Man. I am not nearly intelligent enough to keep pace, so I found myself drifting off with thoughts of the dearly loved Three Penny Opera, and in particular the marvelous Pirate Jenny.

Original German poster

Berlin 1928

The Three Penny Opera was inspired by John Gay’s 1728 hit The Beggar’s Opera

The Beggar’s Opera, Act V

Hogarth

1728

The Beggar’s Opera which explores Man’s rather unsavory side provided rich inspiration for the lyricist Bertolt Brecht, who first wrote Pirate Jenny in 1927;perhaps inspired by the London revival of The Beggar’s Opera in the twenties.

With Kurt Weill providing both the music, and the muse, in this case his wife the marvelous Lotte Lenya; Three Penny explores the theme more deeply.

Lotte Lenya photographed by Carl Van Vechten

I love many recordings of ” Seeräeban Jenny”, Nina, Uta, Ella, but one cannot help feeling that Weill’s muse was the finest. This clip from the 1931 film of Three Penny bears that bias out.

This unidentified sketch of our beloved Jenny, captures her spirit in the fashion of George Grosz.

George Grosz was particularly adept at capturing the despair and wretchedness of man. Why his images beguile me as they repulse is perhaps a question best left to an analyst.

Matrose Im Nachtlokal

George Grosz

1925

Grosz certainly captures the lonely despair many have experienced sitting at a bar into the wee hours of the night. Sad  painful hopefulness. Jenny must feel this, hence her desire to chop off the heads of her oppressors. Can’t blame the gal.

I first became aware of Brecht/Weill/ThreeePenny through my first partner Douglas. Douglas had marvelous taste and an incredible love for dark art. He adored Three Penny, and he particularly loved the production starring Raul Julia as Macheath. Douglas fancied a physical similarity to Mr. Julia, he was correct in possessing that vanity.

Raul Julia

March 9th 1940

October 24th 1994

In the following clip, The Cannon Song,Julia captures Man’s brutality, I particulary love the “beefstak tartar” refrain, it has always amused me.

Again I turn to Grosz, his famous “Made in Germany” captures the silly pompousness of so many folks, men in particular.

Made in Germany

George Grosz

1920

What actually inspired my thoughts of Jenny and wretchedness, was the always divine Marianne Faithful and her evocative interpretation of “Pirate Jenny”. I have a particular fondness for the line “as the soft heads fall”, chilling revenge.

I would like to include this clip of the Tiger Lillies “Bully Boys” which illustrates what ultimately happens to all those wretched Silly Bully Boys.

In closing I would like to dedicate this post to the aforementioned Douglas, who ultimately found our wretched state too much to bear.

I miss him and wished he could have seen past the ugliness.

God bless you Doug.

Good night.