Archive for the Recquiscat in Pace Category

Liebestod, and the doomed Tristan and Isolde-in gratitude

Posted in 19th Century, August Spiess, burges, Jessye Norman, Jon William Waterhouse, Opera, Recquiscat in Pace, Tristan and Isolde, Wagner, William Burges on September 5, 2011 by babylonbaroque

This past Saturday evening we had dinner with our dear talented  friends, the  designer Jonathan Fong and his partner the playwright Greg Phillips.

As is so often the case with these fine gentleman they came bearing gifts, in this case a novel  The Metropolis Case by Matthew Gallaway. The novel is centered upon Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde; my thoughtful friends knowing of our love for opera, Wagner in particular, thought it would make a fine gift.

It is indeed, thank you fellows.

Always in search for a topic to explore, I found myself revisiting this opera, the Liebestod of course in particular.

John William Waterhouse

Tristan and Isolde with the Potion


private collection

Having in my youth read the Loomis edition of Medieval Romances I was as hooked as dear Ludwig II on the legend of our doomed lovers. It was not until my young adulthood that I finally heard the Liebestod. Like those before me I too fell under its spell.

The dog-eared volume that started my romance.

Edmund Blair Leighton

Tristan and Isolde


Herbert James Draper

Tristan and Isolde


A very curious window, by an unknown artist, the doomed lovers portrayed by Lillie Langtry and the future Edward VII, 1890.

Of course one cannot think of the Tristan-Isolde myth without thinking of Ludwig II and his dream castle Neuschwanstein. Often disparaged as a pastiche chock-a-block with second rate decorative paintings and overblown mock Medieval decor;  from my perspective, it is amazing.

Just as my heart sings at the rich allegory so dear to William Burges, Ludwig’s medievalism speaks to my soul. The decorative panels by the overworked and under-rated artist August Spiess of particular interest. 

August Spiess

Tristan and Isolde




Typical of the thorough attention to detail is this incredible Tristan and Isolde stove found in Ludwig’s bedroom.

Ceramic Stove with Carvings

Bedroom -Neuschwanstein


I frankly cannot resist popping in this image of the well known Burges “fire-castle” found at Cardiff Castle.

William Burges

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Wales

renovated 1868

It was with great difficulty that Wagner’s poem finally found its way to the stage.

Ludwig II through his devotion, purse and mad infatuation for  his “Holy One” was finally able to swoon in solitary royal splendor to the Liebestod on July 10th 1865.

Although I  of course do not have a recording from that premier, in which Malvina Schnorr was Isolde; I offer the divine Deborah Voigt.

The following performance is quite moving and poetic-stunning.

Malvina Schnorr von Carolsfeld

b. 7th December 1825

d. 8th February 1904

Following opening night a limp Ludwig gushed to his beloved Richard:

“Unique One! Holy One!

How glorious!- Perfect. So full of rapture!… To drown…to sink down- unconscious- supreme joy.

Divine work!”

(I could not have expressed my sentiments more eloquently, though perhaps I would have added a few more exclamation points.)

The tenor,who personified Tristan to Wagner and to Ludwig, tragically died after only four performance of the roles he and his wife Malvina created.

Ludwig Scnorr von Carolsfeld was only 29 when he died. 

His final words:

” Farewell, Siegried! Console my Richard!”

Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld

b. 2nd July 1836

d. 21st July 1865

Recquiscat in Pace

I of course adore Voigt,

I adore Jane Eaglen,

but my heart will always remain true to Jessye, she is my Isolde.

Thank you Ludwig

M. Jacob

Ludwig II


And of course thank you oh Unique One, oh Holy One

Richard Wagner ca. 1868

Until next time,

 take care,

Babylon Baroque

George Tooker, Reqcuiscat in Pace

Posted in 20th century, Gay, George Platt Lynes, George Tooker, Jared French, Paul Cadmus, Pierro della Francesca, Recquiscat in Pace, Reginald Marsh on March 31, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I was saddened to read that George Tooker had died Sunday.

I have only just begun to appreciate his work, and that of his circle, and now he has passed, link to NYT obituary.

George Clair Tooker Jr.

Self Portrait


b. 5th August 1920

d. 27th March 2011

age 90

Described as a Symbolist and  a Magic Realist, labels he eschewed ; I find in Tooker’s work  ( this is  certainly not an original thought ) a strong link to the Renaissance, in particular the work of Piero della Francesca. It is not just his medium,  egg tempera, that calls this association to mind, his sensibilities, though decidedly modern, have strong roots in the rich Renaissance tradition, a modernist Neo-Renaissance perhaps.

Pierro della Francesca

St. Sebastian and St. John the Baptist

George Tooker

Window XI

part of the Windows series, 1950-1960.

Having a strong determination to paint, which was contrary to parental desire, Tooker majored in English Literature at Harvard ( this boy was no slouch) yet continued to paint. His circle included Reginald Marsh, Paul Cadmus ( who introduced Tooker to egg tempera) and Jared French; fine company, tremendous inspiration.

George Tooker by George Platt Lynes



Difficult to ignore a certain resemblance.

Perhaps his most disturbing portrait is Children and Spastics , three effeminate men being pummeled by little monsters. Was this mocking? empathetic? or merely an observation?

It is striking, and quite modern.

Children and Spastics


Museum of Contemporary Art


I was first drawn to Tookers work due to the following image, it is easy to understand my attraction.

Coney Island


Difficult to ignore the Pieta reference.

As I mentioned with the earlier image, Tooker created a series, Windows, during the 50’s and 60’s; comely Puerto Rican neighbors being  his inspiration.

Window XIII

The Window


After his longtime partner the painter William Christopher died in 1973 ( they had met in ’49, quite a commitment ), Tooker was understandably devastated. He followed a path I can sympathize with, he found comfort in the arms of the Mother Church, and moved to Vermont. Seems quite sensible.

The following link is a recent interview he gave to Vermont Public Radio, it’s a treat to hear his thoughts.

sourced from the New York Times

I found a rather complete gallery of Tooker’s work, unfortunately much isn’t titled or dated, but the images are ravishing.

It is a great loss, we will miss out on new Tooker paintings, mysterious, gorgeous work; fortunately he left a large body of work to absorb, contemplate and enjoy.



Good Night,

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


Philippe-Laurent Roland


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


Musée national du Chåteau et des Trianons


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.


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


Death of Louis XVI,King of France

English Engraving


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


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

Sarah Bernhardt, Dark Spirit

Posted in 19th cent., Memento Mori, Recquiscat in Pace, Sarah Bernhardt, Sculpture, Silent Film on October 27, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As October closes and I have less and less excuses to indulge my darker tastes, I thought it wise to end with Sarah.

Sarah had the great charm of not only being a lively sprite, indulging fully in what life presented to her; she also seemed to take great pleasure in darker delights.

Many may be familiar with her magnificent inkstand, fashioned in her likeness; a sphinx eager to devour the hearts of men, bearing upon her shoulder emblems of her craft, Tragedy & Comedy.


Self portrait as Sphinx

ca. 1880

artist: Sarah Bernhardt



Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Not only gifted on stage but  the studio as well, gotta love the gal.

That ostrich plume will just drive you mad.

As a boy I encountered this image of Sarah in her coffin. any devotee of the Divine One knows the image, but I never tire of it. Evidently neither did her public, it was wildly popular.

by Milandru

Sarah Bernhardt posing in her coffin

ca. 1880

albumen print cabinet card

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

I love the inclusion of her portrait bust , she is the artist of course.

Portrait Bust

ca. 1878 Sarah Bernhardt

Museé d’ Orsay


As an actress she of course excelled at Tragedy, here she is as the great Elizabeth encountering Essex, having had ordered his execution. You don’t get more dramatic then this, her hand wailing- I can totally relate …

ca. 1899

Sadly all the play acting came to an end, we only have bits of brittle film to remember her by.

At least she is eternal neighbors with Oscar.

And with that,

Babylon Baroque

Dame Joan Sutherland, a belated tribute

Posted in 20th century, Joan Sutherland, Opera, Recquiscat in Pace on October 13, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I read yesterday’s paper with a degree of sadness as the esteemed Mr. Tommasini chronicled the passing of the great coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland and  details of her memorable career.

It is a worthy article if you haven’t read it, the link is above.

Recquiscat in Pace

Dame Joan Sutherland

b. 7th November 1926

d. 10th October 2010

“La Stupenda” was my generation’s answer to the great Callas, Joan Sutherland’s death is a loss .

Perhaps best remembered for her thrilling role as the mad Lucia,

I will always love her best as the noble Norma, her “Casta diva ” was thrilling me all of yesterday as I battled Los Angeles traffic.

Thank you dear Joan, we will miss you.


Respectfully submitted,

Babylom Baroque

Louis Lingg, The Hottest Anarchist Ever

Posted in 19th cent., Anarchists, Louis Lingg, Recquiscat in Pace, Walter Crane on September 15, 2010 by babylonbaroque

It’s pretty sad when you have a crush on a man who has been dead for 123 years, not to mention that he is/was an Anarchist, and you a dilettantish Monarchist.

Look at this  photograph and all will be explained. Click on image to enlarge.

Louis Lingg

b. Sept. 9th 1864

Mannheim Germany

d. Nov. 10th 1887

Cook County Jail



The youngest of those arrested in the aftermath of the  bloody, event known as the Haymarket Riot .

On May 3rd 1886, Chicago police violently interrupted an altercation between striking workers at the McCormick Reaper plant and strike-breakers. The police fired, killing and wounding several men.

Tensions were high within the Labor movement, May 1st 1886 ( May Day) had just witnessed a national demonstration advocating an 8 hour work day.

The violence at the Mc Cormick plant prompted a rally the next day, to be held in Haymarket Square, the purpose of the rally was to denounce  the police brutality and once again push for a reasonable work day. Multiple trade unions were present. This handsome banner  (of the era) for the Painters-Decorators Union of course charmed the hell out of me.

Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators, Local 194

ca. 1890

painted silk, metallic fringe

70 ½ by 47½ inches

Chicago Historical Society

In what was to be a day of peaceful Labor demonstration, full of fraternité and inspirational speechmaking , turned  quite bloody. An unidentified figure thew a bomb into the crowd of gathered police. Shots were fired, certainly by the police, some sources say from within the crowd. Whatever truly happened within the chaos remains a mystery, but at days end 7 police officers and  4 workers were found dead, plus 60 wounded. A bloody awful day.

Public reaction was of course over-reaction, a Red Scare ensued.

Desperate to find a culprit, eight prominent Chicago Anarchists were arrested, charged, and sentenced with “conspiracy to murder”

They were all but one, sentenced to be “hanged by the neck until he is dead”.

This is astonishing as most of the men accused were not even in attendance. The “logic” of the sentencing was that their political writings, which were quite radical, incited the violence. Was Freedom of Speech an unknown concept in ’86?

Of the eight accused, Judge Jos. E Gary spared Oscar Neebe  death, but sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.

The others were not to  be spared the noose.

On Nov. 10th 1887, a day before he is to climb the scaffold, Louis Lingg places a blasting cap in his mouth, lights it, and blows off his lower jaw, and much of his (beautiful) face. This at the hour of 9 o’clock in the forenoon, he finally after many hours of agony, dies at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

A contemporary image illustrating the ugly event.

Another image, a less “noble ” Lingg committing the act on his cell cot.

Recquiscat in Pace Louis Lingg

Nov. 11th 1887, Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engels, and Adolph Fischer are hanged.

Albert Parsons

August Spies

George Engel

Adolph Fischer

The only cemetery  willing to take the five bodies  was the German Waldheim cemetery.

Six years later, on June 25th 1893, a monument was dedicated to the Haymarket  Martyrs as they were beginning to be called.

Haymarket Martyr’s Monument

Liberty placing a laurel wreath upon a Fallen Worker.

designed by Albert Weinert

German Waldheim Cemetary

Relying upon this wonderful image by the great Walter Crane , public perception concerning this outrage of justice, must have been shifting, at least within progressive circles.

The Anarchists of Chicago

by Walter Crane

Ultimately the Reform movement and the struggles endured, received positive results. The National Eight Hour Law was passed and signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on May 19th 1869. I am perplexed by this as the Eight Hour Workday was still an issue at the time of the Haymarket Riot. The 1869 proclamation reads: “I, U.S. grant, President of the United States, do hereby direct that from this date no reduction shall be made in the wages paid by the government by the day, to such laborers, workers, & mechanics on account of such reduction of the hours of labor. In testimony whereof &c, done at the City of Washington, this 19th Day of May, the year of our Lord, 1869 & of the Independence of the United States”.

From my reading the issue of Eight Work Day would have been mute, but I guess not. I am certainly not a legal scholar.

Finally, in 1938 The Fair Labor Standard Act made eight hours a legal days work in the U.S.

In 1893, at the expense of his political career, Gov. John Peter Altgeld pardoned the remaining accused, Folden, Schwab, and Neebe.

This cartoon dated July 15th 1893 expresses some of the outrage at the Governor’s decision. The Monument in the background is a monument honoring the fallen police officers. Click on the image for greater detail, check out the dog collars.

“The Friend of Mad Dogs. Gov. Altgeld of illinois in freeing the Anarchists bitterly denounced Judge Gary and the Jury that convicted them.”

by Judge Publishing Company

Not all sentiment was against Altgeld, this commemorative plaque attests to enough support for the decision to warrant his quote to be cast in bronze. I particularly admire the severed chains.

If interested in further information concerning the Haymarket Riot, I suggest you visit the Chicago Historical Society Collection .

Have a great eight hour work day, and remember to thank the handsome Mr. Lingg and his seven comrades.

In closingI feel compelled to include the ONLY Dolly ditty that I truly cannot stand, but it IS thematic.