Archive for the Philadelphia Category

Feast Day of Saint Nicholas of Myra, in memory of Moses.

Posted in Ilya Repin, Moses, Nicholas of Myra, Philadelphia, R.I.P. on December 6, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I had been planning this post as today is the feast day of Blessed Nicholas of Myra, patron of thieves, sailors, students, and children. Unfortunately yesterday was an unhappy day here in Babylon,our dear cat Moses had to be put down.

I dedicate this post to his fuzzy memory.

Saint Nicholas of Myra

270 AD

6th December 336 AD

The Bishop of Myra, Nicholas is often referred to as Nikolas the Wonderworker, he is the model for our beloved Sinterklaas, Santa Claus.

As the Wonderworker, the Bishop was known for many miracles.

 

This 19th century prayer card illustrates one such miracle, a particularly grisly tale. A famine had struck , starvation rampant, an evil Butcher lures three little boys to his home, the Evil butcher swiftly slaughters the wee ones, expertly butchering them and cures them as hams for market. Beloved Nicholas, sees through this false marketing and resurrects the little ones.

Tales like this little gem are the reason I cannot abandon the Church.

The following image by the masterful Ilya Repin illustrates a similar tale but I have yet found specifics. It is of course a marvelous image, Repin spun magic.

Saint nicholas of Myra Saves Three Innocents from Death

1888

Ilya Yefimovich Repin

1844-1930

The State Russian Museum

Nicholas is of course most famous for his charity.

The most famous tale being of a poor fellow with three young daughters ( three being a theme);poor fellow is unable to provide a dowry for the lasses. Nichiolas seeing the man’s dire situation saves the girls from a life of slavery and prostitution. Nicholas also spares the fellow’s pride by tossing three bags of gold through an open window.

Another tale, is Nicholas tosses the bags down the chimney, in their descent they land in the stockings that have been left by the hearth to dry.

Gentile De Fabriano

ca, 1425

We have certainly strayed a bit from the origin of this tale in the excesses of our  celebration of Christmas.

We may have strayed, but Nicholas understood his charity as symbolic of a greatness beyond his own actions.

He is famous for saying”The Giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic His giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves”.

I need to keep that in mind.

The Virgin and Child with St. Julian and St. Nicholas of Myra

ca. 1490-92

Lorenzo Di Credi

Musée de Louvre

A novena to Saint Nicholas , Bishop of Myra is available here.

As I mentioned we lost our dear cat Moses yesterday.

Moses was fourteen, born on the streets of Philly, feral, spooked, and beautiful.

He suffered from an anxiety that left him ambivalent about affection.

He demanded love, yet would swat you away if you nuzzled too closely.

Moses was a grey Manx, he hopped like a bunny perhaps due to the absence of a tail.

Poor bugger suffered with cystitis throughout the fourteen years, awakening us in his kittenhood with the most chilling scream. He continued with painful outbreaks throughout his life; we dealt with them as best as we could.

For the most part we managed his suffering, he rewarded us with dead lizards he proudly hunted down.

Moses 1996

His anxiety and grumpiness earned him the nickname Moses Bin Laden.

He was a funny boy, demanding, affectionate, vocal.

We missed not hearing his 6 am wake up yowl this morning.

Recquiscat in Pace Moses.

Moses

1996

5th December 2010

Take care dear boy.

Exoticism @ the Centennial Exhibition, part II

Posted in 19th cent., architecture, Centennial Exhibition, Egyptomania, Japonism, Philadelphia, Sculpture on August 5, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As we were determined to celebrate our Centennial on a grand scale and   establish our national legitimacy, the Centennial Exhibition offered Americans the opportunity to ogle exotic markets and peoples.

I am always a sucker for Continental allegory, it  enchants me.

The Exotic clearly enchanted our 19th century forefathers.

Each participating nation was granted an opportunity to participate and show off it’s national glory.

And show off they did.

One can never have enough Egypto-mania, the Egyptian Hall was of course a smash.

magic awaits

fabulous goods

what more do you need?

difficult to see, but that’s a stuffed crocodile between tusks, exotic enough for you?

Cleopatra

by Enrico Braga

from the Masterpieces of the Centennial International Exhibition Illustrated, Vol. I

1876-88

edited by Edward Strahan

The entrance to Agricultural Hall was a Moorish fantasy come to life.

a promenade worthy of a Sultaness.

Of course nothing speaks of the Exotic like Japonism, the Japanese were happy to oblige.

from the Gems of the Centennial Exhibition, my own pitiful scan, please pardon.

Mammoth Japanese Bronze Vase

What every Robber Baron needs for the Entrance Hall.

Let us not forget Exoticism in our own land. The freed slaves obviously provided picturesque artistic inspiration.

Freed Slave by Francesco Pezzicar

shown in the Art Gallery, better known today as Memorial Hall.

Perhaps women were considered equally exotic as they merited their own hall, the Women’s Building.

Never pass up the chance to oogle naked lady bits is what I say.

Although much of the Art  appears to have been  exhibited in the Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall

architect H.J. Schwarzman

H.J. Schwarzman

Chief Planner of the Exhibition

This was no easy task,held in 1876, from May through November; close to ten million visitors passed through it’s gates. 30,000 exhibitors from 51 countries, enticed, enlightened and befuddled the throngs.

Main Exhibition Building

Over 50 acres of exhibition space, the Great Exhibition of 1851 was a little over 20 acres.

Once again we felt the need to over compensate.

Horticultural Hall

Interior of Agricultural Hall

same as Horticultural Hall???

Our individual States erected pavilions.

Was this before California became it’s own State?, I cannot remember.

My own home state had a much more magnificent building in which to boast.

From my reading of the “Gems”, New Jersey was the first to sign on to the Exhibition, some southern states soon followed. Perhaps Carpet Baggers eager to please the North.

How charming, how so NOT Jersey Shore.


I have never been to Memorial Hall, I only know it as a floating Xanadu above Fairmont Park.

My sister assures me things have changed, lets just hope they haven’t scrubbed away the romance.

A bit of ephemera.

Gems of the Centennial Exhibition, part I

Posted in 19th cent., Allen & Bros., Centennial Exhibition, furniture, Gothic Revival, Minton, Neo Grec, Philadelphia, Renaissance Revival, Tiffany & Comp. on July 29, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As I am always keen on the topics of Design Exhibitions and my beloved Philadelphia, I was very pleased when the exhibition catalog “Gems of the Centennial Exhibition” became available.

I have been aware of miscellaneous objects created for our Exhibition, but to tap into contemporary criticism is a great privilege.

If you wish to take a peek, follow this link,Gems of the Centennial Exhibition .

Part of the  fun is to be able to find clues as to why certain design decisions were made. I can think of no other time in which peculiar little quirks drive me mad. Other centuries seem to have allowed reason and conventional notions of beauty  to influence aesthetic decisions. The 19th century, in it’s mad dash quest for novelty, progress, and historicism , produced many perplexing details.

Once such example is this Neo Grec  centre table.

Centre Table
Messrs. Allen & Brother
Philadelphia, Pennsyslvania
ca. 1875
Cherry with opaque white paint, marble.
approx. dimensions 32x45x30
Brooklyn Museum
Although this particular piece was not exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition, Messrs. Allen & Bros. did exhibit two equally peculiar cabinets.
I admire the Neo Grec treatment of ivory paint, the incised decoration being gilded, the attempt at restraint.. Although aspiring for Classical refinement. I find the legs with their scrolling vine work to be in the Neo Gothick style of the Audsley Bros. From my perspective, this centre table is a hybrid Neo Greco-Neo Gothick.
But I digress, back to peculiar design decisions.
The curtain rod rings, why? Was fabric to be hung? That would conceal the handsome palmette on the brace. If it had been a folio cabinet containing  light sensitive watercolours  and engravings, perhaps a hanging would make sense, but this is a centre table. Perhaps a decorative lambrequin-like hanging was employed. It is puzzling.
I was unable to find an answer, just another peculiar example in the “Gems of the Centennial…”
Pardon the quality, I scanned it myself, rather poorly.
What is apparent on this cabinet are the rings. Once again employed as a decorative motif, once again making no apparent sense,although this time they appear fixed, merely a conventional treatment. This particular image is on page 145.
Not a great mystery, just one of those little peculiarities that fascinates and piques  the interest of this Victoriana Nerd.

On to other objects listed in the “Gems”.

This great beauty by Tiffany has been making the rounds of the more exuberant blogs, chateauthombeau.blogspot.com. It is certainly a treasure.
Fruit Dish in Silver, by Messrs. Tiffany & Co., New York
And here it is , page 15,
A great favorite of mine is this circular settee.
by Marchand?
Paris
The text does not attribute the maker, although the photo seems to say by Marchand.
The text of “Gems…” goes on to describe this marvel of the up-holster’s art as being 14 feet high, 10 feet in diameter. It is in the Renaissance style, and covered in green satin. I would have thought charcoal from the image.This bit of fantasy is topped with a functioning fountain of red marble and bronze, lovely with the green satin.To finish off the confection”the whole is gracefully surmounted by a chandelier of fifty burners.” I love the purple prose, I love the setee.
A lovely Aesthetic Movement chimney piece follows.
Love the lady casually reading, oblivious to the maddening crowd.
and now, pg. 97
This fascination with contemporary images and responses may appear silly, it most likely is. But it helps to answer a few of the oddball questions I have whenever I gaze upon a 19th century room;particularly one before the Reform Movement had great influence. With the endless draping of mantle pieces, jardinieres, “artistic” easels, and Turkish Corners, I am often puzzled . The “Gems of the Centennial Exhibition” puts the period in context.
I end with a few gems that had exhibited at the Exhibition.
“Monumental Centerpiece”
Minton
made for “76 Exhibition
27″w x 24″d x 33 1/2″h
Wilson Sewing Machine
LOVE the Herter Bros. influence on so modest a piece of “furniture”.
Burdett Organ
trade card
BTW,
the proper title of the catalog is as follows:
Gems of the Centennial Exhibition:Consisting of Illustrated Descriptions of Objects of an Artistic Character, in the Exhibits of the United States, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Russia, Japan, China
Perhaps the most exuberant title ever.
The poor dears were really trying to prove their legitimacy.
Good Night

Shabbos “Pouf”/week 11

Posted in 19th cent., Centennial Exhibition, overfussy tastes, Philadelphia with tags on April 30, 2010 by babylonbaroque

First off if anyone knows what this type of furniture is actually called please let me know. I will describe the following as a circular leather bench, but my friends Jaime Rummerfield and Ron Woodson of Woodson & Rummerfield describe it as a pouf which I love.

This pouf loves THIS pouf.

Leather upholstered circular bench with bronze candelabrum.

M.Marchand

France

approx. 1876

This magnificent pience of ostentation was shown at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.

One of the many marvel, I plan to explore the Centennial Exhibition in more depth, but for now…

Good Shabbos

Good Shabbos, second week

Posted in 19th cent., Aesthetic Movement, Daniel Pabst, Orientalist, Philadelphia on March 5, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As the week draws to an end, I am happy to share this rather obscure beauty.

Chair

Daniel Pabst, designer and maker

American, born Germany,1826-1910

Ebonized cherry, fabric not original

size approx 37x22x19

Brooklyn Museum

I would describe this chair as belonging to the Aesthetic Movement. I see hints of the hard, almost machine like qualities that Dresser explored in his more daring design work.

It also vaguely hints at the East, a certain Orientalist mystery to it. I can see it as the pride and joy of some 19th century Turkish Corner. Very fitting for Shabbos.

Daniel Pabst worked pretty exclusively in my favorite city, Philadelphia. Frank Furness made use of his talents. There is  wonderful desk, along with several other pieces in the Philadelphia Art Museum, permanent collection.

Unfortunately this great beauty is not on display, the Brooklyn Museum has it listred as not on view. A pity.

I look forward to exploring Pabst in more detail but for now this glimpse of this talents.