Archive for the Oscar Wilde Category

Salome cast in Greenery-Yallery

Posted in 19th Century, 20th century, Aesthetic Movement, Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde, Salome, Uncategorized on February 15, 2012 by babylonbaroque

We recently had the good fortune of catching the final performance of the San Diego Opera’s production of Salome. As I really am only familiar with our dear minx by way of Oscar and Aubrey I wasn’t sure what to expect.

source

I was delighted, most particularly with the lead soprano Lise Lindstrom, she gave a marvelous performance. As is so often the case I was drawn to the sets and costumes, in particular her gown in the final scene. It was, I declared with great bombast the perfect yallerish, Oscar would have adored the color. Unfortunately yallerish is incorrect, a quick Google search for the word provided only my own blog as the source, I have made MANY references to the word, all of them incorrect. I feel a bit of a fool.

The correct word to describe this Aesthetic Movement staple is Greenery-Yallery. First termed it appears by the witty duo Gilbert and Sullivan for their production of Patience in which they mercilessly lampoon lily- wristed blue-and-white china lovin’ aesthetes with utter abandon. 

“A pallid and thin young man

A haggard and lank young man

A Greenery-yallery Grosvener Gallery

Foot-in-the -grave young man!”

This 1882 greeting card illustrates the sort of fellow perfectly.

Source V&A

Wilde did of course make ample use of the color yellow, there is his poem Symphony in Yellow.

The drawing room at Tite Street was described as having dazzled in “greenery-yallery” effect 1909 source 

And of course there was that notorious yellow book found on Wilde’s person at the time of his arrest; alas it was not THE Yellow Book so loved by the “foot-in-the-grave” set.

Yellow Book, volume 3, October 1894

My only real disappointment in the San Diego production was the executioner of Blessed Jachanaan. In my fantasy he would appear as that bit of stellar beef ( Duncan Meadows) from the Royal Opera House production .

Unfortunately he was a rather chunky fellow with bad posture, quite a let-down.

Duncan Meadows, Royal Opera House production of "Salome"

 source : Feuillton

For a snippet of the final scene with the minor deity( and his mighty sword) check out this clip

The Duncan Meadows “lead” so to speak was from my friend the artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins.Clive not only is a most impressive artist,but a blogging wiz, he kindly walked me through the compexities of WordPress.

Although I have been blogging for quite some time, I must have become rusty ( or WordPress has become more persnickety).

I thank you friend, a fresh day and a constant  visit to “save draft” seems to be the trick.

Knowing that once again I may post freely is a tremendous relief. I am now posting far less frequently than I have in the past. I hope my readers understand that my life is now often spent in my Hermitage ( my pretentious little studio); posting is becoming less and less a priority, but when the spirit and time allows I will indeed be back.

I am touched at the swelling number of followers, perhaps I ought to give it all up for good if the number of “hits” is any indication of activity when I am so very fallow.

Wishing all a “utterly charming” day!

Take care,

Babylon Baroque

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Decadent Movement comes to L.A.

Posted in Aesthetic Movement, Aubrey Beardsley, Decadent Movement, Green Carnation, Gustave Moreau, Huysmans, Nazimova, Orientalist, Oscar Wilde, Silent Film on November 3, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I’m not speaking of some tawdry film set in the San Fernando Valley or a Palm Springs pool party ; I’m thinking of that infinitely more satisfying period in the 1890’s when  the line between beauty and perversity was fully explored, the Decadent Movement.

 

 

Thracian Girl Carrying the Head of Orpheus on His Lyre

1865

Gustave Moreau

b.1826-d.1898

Musée d’Orsay

Paris

I was reminded of this delightful time by my friend Kim Cooper of LAVA Sunday Salon fame. Kim had thoughtfully sent along an email announcement that UCLA was putting together a lecture series devoted to the Decadent Movement and Aestheticism, of course I made reservations pronto.

Once I knew I had secured a seat, I felt free to share the info. I tend to be greedy.

It is a two day lecture, November 19th and 20th at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, if you happen to be in L.A. please join me.

Of A Neophyte And How The Black Art Was Revealed Unto Him By The Fiend Asamuel

1893

Aubrey Beardsley

 

We can’t really think of the Decadent movement without regarding Huysmans and his wonderfully perverse novels À rebours (Against the Grain, 1884) and my personal favorite Là-Bas (The Damned, 1891). À rebours chronicles the exploits of the wicked aesthete Jean Des Esseintes. It is a marvelous novel, beloved by Wilde and his set, I must revisit this novel.

Jean Des Essientes is said to be based on that dandy of dandies Robert de Montesquieu, a delightful portrait by Giovanni Boldini follows.

Joris-Karl Huysman was himself a bit of a dandy, I really admire this photo-portrait of Huysmans. I find it intriguing how a sacred object such as a crucifix can  appear sinister when in the company of this man. I want my next portrait to be in this pose.

Joris-Karl Huysmans

b. Feb. 5th 1848

d. May 12th 1907

Certain dark themes recur time and again within the Decadent Movement, Oedipus and the ghastly Sphynx, dark angels and swooning lamentations, Moreau’s Orpheus a good example. But no figure held the imagination so firmly as Salome . Wilde, Beardsley, Moreau, and Ricketts, along with many others, all tried to capture her dark allure.

Salome

1871

Gustav Moreau

Salome

1925

Charles Ricketts

1866-1931

The Toilet of Salome I, from Salome

1894

Beardsley

V&A

Although not of the period it is difficult to not toss in the silent screen starlet Alla Nazimova and her iconic 1923 depiction of the wanton Salome.

As I intend to experience the lecture fully, I will re-read that silly little novel that caused such a sensation in ’94, Robert Hitchens, Green Carnation.


I hope to be a s precious as Esmé Amarinth, hope to see you there.

Have a pleasant evening,

Babylon Baroque

Aestheticism hits the White House, the Tiffany/Arthur collaboration 1882

Posted in 19th cent., Aesthetic Movement, Lewis Comfort Tiffany, Oscar Wilde, President Chester Arthur, Thom. Ustick Walter, White House on September 21, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Like a fragile St.John preaching in the desert, St. Oscar lands upon our barren shores on January 3rd 1882 ready to preach the Gospel of Aestheticism.

St. John the Baptist

Titian

1542

(the above completely gratuitous , hunky men never fail to please)

Oscar Wilde had intended to spend four months cultivating the Cave-people of North America, poor fellow found himself stuck here for a year.

cartoon of Wilde by Keller, 1882

I feel for Wilde, I doubt most Americans were open to his fey notions of  Aesthetic Beauty. We tend to favor a robust expression of architecture, the infestation of Richardson Romanesque piles providing suitable argument.

Yet his wit and taste clearly affected at least one very important dandy, President Chester A. Arthur.

21st President Chester A. Arthur

term Sep. 19th 1881-Mar.4th 1885

20th President James A. Garfield and his Vice President Chester A. Arthur

“Chet” finding himself  President after the tragic assassination of President James A. Garfield, was  confronted with a new home loathsome to his own rarefied tastes. Finding the White House and its decor  outmoded and decrepit; Arthur shed the house of 24 wagonloads of furnishings and 30 barrels of old china. Like many of my readers, I cringe at what was lost.

Foolish where it concerns our heritage, he was quite wise in hiring the young buck Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of his friend Charles Lewis Tiffany. Tiffany the younger had recently formed the design firm Associated Artists. Arthur assigns them the commission to redecorate the Entry Hall, East Room, Blue Room, Red Room, and State Dining Room in 1882. The decision was made not to redecorate the Green Room. Furnishings were not to be commissioned, but architectural enhancements such as glass screens, lighting, and decorative finishes were to be employed to create this Aesthetic Palace we know as the White House.

a youthful Louis Comfort Tiffany

The Entry Hall

The Entry had long posed a problem in its draftiness. In 1837 President Martin Van Buren installs a decorative screen to combat the problem. In 1853 President Franklin Pierce hires the Philadelphian architect Thomas Ustick Walter to fashion a more agreeable screen. This screen was apparently handsome enough for Tiffany to fabricate his own wonder upon it’s skeleton.

This scene from 1881 shows the Walter screen of 1853

Tiffany transforms the Entry Hall into a harem worthy of any Pasha’s attention.

Entrance 1882

Tiffany’s jewel like vision was not to be long lived. The delicate red, white, and blue opalescent splendor  was not suitably American for Teddy and his Big Stick. Soon enough, that Big Stick would send crashing to the ground all that Aesthetic prettiness.

ca. 1889

either the Cleveland or Harrison administration.

ca. 1893

Cleveland administration.

The skeleton of the Walter’s screen very visible.

I like the eagle motif between the arches.

ca. 1894

Cleveland administration.

I particularly like the ungodly overmantle decoration. not sure if its Tiffany’s doing. Seems a bit un-Aesthetic, but is typical of my preference for the vulgar.

The Roosevelt Big Stick has entered the room!

ca.1902

The 26th President,Theodore Roosevelt’s

the McKim, Mead, & White renovation full steam ahead.

A tragic and beautiful image, reminiscent of Pompeii.

ca. 1903

Almost completed and ready for its close up.

As I mentioned Tiffany was in charge of the Red, Blue, Dining, and East Room, I will present a few glimpses.

Red Room

ca. 1883

Tiffany’s dreamy vision

ca. 1888

Mrs. Cleveland tainted the Aesthetic purity with conventional touches, the Asian vases selected by Tiffany, replaced with the following commonplace urns.

(do like the lampshade.)

The Blue Room

I’ve discussed this room before, but it’s worth revisiting.

ca. 1882

Note the patriotic shields in the ceiling decoration, proving  Aestheticism can indeed be red blooded American.

ca. 188g

digital reconstruction by Nest magazine.

The East Room

ca. 1883

I was unable to find any images of the State dining Room attributed to Tiffany, the following is dated the 1880’s. It may have been from the Garfield administration. It’s pretty conventional, so that is most likely.

ca. 1880’s

I’ll bet you a nickel it ISN’T Lewis Comfort’s work.

As I said this Eastern Splendor was short-lived.

The magnificent glass screen which had cost $15,000.00 to fashion, was auctioned off in 1902  for $275.00. The screen ultimately met its sad end when its new home the Belvedere Hotel in Chesepeake Maryland burnt to the ground. For more information concerning the ill-fated screen follow this link

As in all things, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Have a great week.