Archive for the Sarah Bernhardt Category

In Defense of Hans Makart

Posted in 19th Century, A. Wiertz, art pompier, Gustav Klimt, Hans Makart, Makartbouquet, Sarah Bernhardt on February 25, 2011 by babylonbaroque

This morning ‘s New York Times had a review of what appears to be a marvelous exploration of Viennese modernism at the Neue  Galerie.

Although Roberta Smith was a bit dismissive of the Neue’s obvious affection for fin de Siècle excess, going so far as declaring the gallery “…adolescently, in love…”; she saves  much of her disdain for Hans Makart.

Hans Makart

b. 28th May 1840

d. 3rd October 1884

Self portrait

1878

She describes Makarts work as “this froth of cloying brushwork and sartorial detail ” that “stands out like a sore thumb opposite Adele. But it vividly locates the artistic stagnation that the painters of other portraits in the room — Klimt, as well as Schiele and Kokoschka — were rebelling against”.

It is  unfair to compare Makart to the Gustav Klimt, but as  the exhibit contrasts the two artist; the former studio assistant will inevitably outshine his master.

I love Klimt of course, how can you not?

Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

1907


I just feel it important to not dismiss Makart as “froth”.

An artist held in such esteem that Bernhardt posed for him.

Sarah Bernhardt

1881

A master colorist who left behind  a body of work that is often startlingly seductive and subversive. Klimt clearly was a genius, but Makart deserves his due.


Allegory of Lust for Life

1869

(certainly not a subtle image)

It has been awhile since I posted on Makart, I think this a good time to review what I admire about his work.

I find this painting a bit odd, is it a twist on the Nativity?

Child Portrait

It 1872

It is true that Makart enjoyed tremendous success in his day, it is understandable to defend the rebellious Klimt.

Makart’s atelier/ salon, described by Cosima Wagner as a “wonder of decorative beauty” drew a wide circle of fashionable society, Makart satisfied their vanity with very smart portraits.

Crown Princess Stephanie

1881

Considered a poor draughtsman, Makart compensated with dazzling coloring and dramatic composition.


The Death of Cleopatra

1875

This floral painting is far from conventional, there is sinister quality that is difficult to ignore.

Still Life with Roses

1872

And although more conventional,  the gorgeous palette is very seductive .

Large Floral Piece

1884

So pervasive was the Makartstil,floral arrangements of such lush abundance became known as Makartbouquet.

Fanciful images of a faun and nymph  are cast in creepy light by this “frothy” artist.

Pan and Flora

1872

(such a perverse image)

Makart like his contemporary Antoine Wiertz may not have been exceptional next to the wondrous Klimt or Schiele, but they were gifted and inventive; contrary to Smith’s accusation of “artistic stagnation”.

I wish my own work was so stagnant.

Sacrificial Scene

1880

I for one do not want them forgotten.

Enjoy the weekend.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


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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.

Inkwell

Self portrait as Sphinx

ca. 1880

artist: Sarah Bernhardt

1844-1923

bronze

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

Paris

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

Master Lalique

Posted in 19th cent., Art Nouveau, Calouste Gulbenkian, Sarah Bernhardt on October 6, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Continuing on  with  fin de Siècle excess and beauty, it would be impossible not to mention the Master of the Jeweled Arts, René Lalique.Female Face Pendant

ca. 1898-1900

glass, silver, enamel, gold, and baroque pearl

René Lalique

Museo Gulbenkian, source

What I admire about Lalique, aside from his great talent and taste, was his choice of material. A stone being merely “precious” did not necessarily catch this aesthetes eye; the above featured pendant shows Lalique’s able vision to wrought glass into something far more ethereal then it’s base element.

René Jules Lalique

b. 6th April 1860

d. 5th May 1945

source

As I mentioned in my previous Sarah Bernhardt post , Calouste Gulbenkian (dragonfly pendant fame) was an important patron of Lalique’s art.

From the work collected at his Museo Gulbenkian his affection for Lalique is quite apparent.

Peacock Pectoral

ca. 1898-1900

cold, enamel, opals, diamond

Museo Gulbenkian, source

Plaque for Eagles and Pine choker

ca. 1899-1901

gold, opals, enamel

Museo Gulbenkian

I love the sinister quality of this piece, the raptors hidden behind the boughs, ready to rip ones throat , perfect theme for a choker.

Speaking of the lovely and the macabre, Medusa is always a perfect muse.

Meduse

source

The serpentine tangle , always enchanting.

Serpents pectoral

ca. 1898-1899

gold and enamel

Museo Gulbenkian

To get a sense of the scale and beauty of the Gulbenkian pieces, check out this short clip, the Centaur shown is stunning.

As there is nothing I enjoy more then drawing, I find it of great interest to ponder the work of a Master .

These sketches allow us a glimpse of Lalique’s magical vision.

design for hair comb

source

Terribly charming the little bumble bees, unfortunately I haven’t any info.

sketch of an anemone

source

Enchanting as this sketch may be, seeing it in it’s glittery glory is most rewarding.

source

Orchid diadem

ca. 1903-1904

ivory, horn, gold, topaz

Museo Gulbenkian

I leave you with these lovely images , I hope your day is as enchanting.

Mucha Madness

Posted in 19th cent., Alphonse Mucha, Blessed Virgin Mary, Me, Mucha, Orientalist, Sarah Bernhardt on October 1, 2010 by babylonbaroque

It is difficult to not explore Mucha when discussing divine Sarah. The man was essential to her image of HighGlamour.

He has greatly influenced my taste from very early on.

As a boy of eight my wildly eccentric Nana presented me with a wonderful  Whitman’s tin, it bore the image of the familiar “Zodiac” panel (inside Nana had stuffed it with lead soldiers from WWI, marvelous toys). The tin was a wonder to me,   I probably loved it more then the soldiers ( as I said before, I was a sissy boy). This exotic box with it’s  scratched and rusted Orientalist decoration opened a world of beauty known as Mucha to me.

Thank you Nana, recquiscat in pace.

As I mentioned Mucha controlled, with meddling, Sarah’s image.

This famous poster of Miss Bernhardt from the production of Gismonda is well known.

Gismonda

1895 printed by Lemercier

It is one of my favorites.

The glamour shot that follows, it’s inspiration.

It is tempting to go on about Mucha’s work, but others have done a much finer job then I am capable of.

He is justly popular.

I will focus on the trivial, as that is where my talents happily  lie.

Let’s discuss Mucha’s pretty Studio, it’s a grand affair.

I’m thinking this is his second studio, rue Val de Grace, 1895. He had another,charmingly described as” above Madame Charlotte’s cremerie”. I  don’t profess to be a Mucha scholar, I just like pretty pictures.

Location may be uncertain, but it’s influence on my taste is abundantly clear. It is a magical place.

Mucha’s studio.

Anyone who knows my taste is aware of my affection for graven images, the Madonna front and center drives me mad.

I wish my own work warranted such brazen display.

Loving the stuffed pheasant, always room for taxidermy.

In my own modest way, I have attempted to recreate Mucha-stile in my own home studio.

Mucha-stile on a budget.

Authors home studio, my pugdog Daisy in foreground, dachshund  Buddy further on.

As I said Mucha still inspires, I still have the Whitman’s tin, more scratched and rusty as ever, but still treasured.

Nana’s gift to her sissy grandson.

The inspiration for the tin, the Zodiac panel.

Zodiac panel.

In addition to a shared love of writhing foliate bejeweled ornament and overdecorated studios, Alphonse Mucha and I share a birthdate. I am quite pleased with that coincidence.

Alphonse Maria Mucha

self portrait

b. July 24th 1860

d. July 14th 1939

(as I was born in “62 perhaps I will live to 2039 or so, hope so)

Mucha died in Czechoslovakia, a victim of Nazi harassment. Shortly after German occupation, they interrogated poor Alphonse. clearly a man capable of making such loveliness couldn’t handle the thuggery. He died shortly after the assault.

Although the Nazis had banned attendance to his funeral, 100,000 bravely defied the order and gave Mucha the respect due to a great genius.

Recquiscat in Pace

for further interesting tidbits, please check out  the Mucha Foundation site

Have a great weekend.

Good Shabbos!

Sarah Bejeweled

Posted in Alphonse Mucha, Calouste Gulbenkian, Edouard Lievre, George Sandow, Georges Fouquet, Rene Lalique, Sarah Bernhardt on September 29, 2010 by babylonbaroque

My intention has been to post a simple little article on the Divine Sarah.

With Sarah Bernhardt  it AIN’T that easy.

Divine Sarah as the Empress of Byzantium Théodora by Sardou

I was a pissy little  homo- boy, my mother dismissed my histrionic fits by telling me to “stop acting like Sarah Bernhardt”.

I hadn’t a clue as to what she was referring to, I do now.

Sarah is eternally fascinating. As I cannot possibly tackle the Goddess in one little modest post, perhaps chapters would be best.

As I like shiny things, and Sarah liked shiny things lets begin with jewels.

We all know the quite fabulous Dragonfly corsage , so let us start with it.

Dragonfly corsage

Lalique 1897-1898

gold, enamel, chrysoprase stones, moonstones .

Museo Calouste Gulbenkian

I have read that this perverse little creature owned by Sarah’s friend, Calouste Gulbenkian, was a portrait sculpture of Bernhardt. I don’t see a resemblance, but it is of course  quite extraordinary.

Calouste lent this jaw dropper only once to dear Sarah, but we are still talking about it.

The man had fine taste, plus he was rather cute.

In addition to this bit of magnificence, he was a fine patron to Lalique. I must post more in a future date, but I cannot resist the siren call of this piece.

Serpents pectoral

ca. 1898-1899

gold and enamel

Museo Calouste Gulbenkian

Lalique wasn’t the only horse in Sarah’s bejeweled stable. Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha produced this dazzling wonder.

Snake Bracelet

ca. 1899

gold, diamonds, opals , rubies, and enamel

Alphonse Mucha  Museum

Sakai City, Japan

As the opal is Sarah’s birthstone, the Snake Bracelet is particularly fitting.

It’s Orientalist mystique is by way of a larger snake that wraps round her wrist, Snake -1 linked to ring -Snake- 2 by a delicate series of chains. Flexibility is provided by discreet hinges from behind. a mechanical bit of genius that even I can appreciate.

In addition to designing Sarah’s jewels, Mucha of course famously designed posters for many of her  performances. this poster of 1898, depicts the divine one as Medea, in the production of  Médée performed at the Theatre de la Renaissance.

The Snake Bracelet quite visible, in addition to the bloody knife.

Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha collaborated on other pieces, this pendant will drive you mad.

Brooch

ca. 1900

Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha

gold, enamel, mother of pearl, emerald, colored stone, gold paint

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Clearly dear Mucha relished being Sarah’s lap dog.Mucha went on to design more for Sarah, jewels and posters most specifically.

When Miss Bernhardt was performing La Princesse Lointaine at the Renaissance Theatre in 1895, Mucha designed this magnificent tiara for her.

Diadem for La Princesse Lointaine

ca. 1895

Musée et Bibliothèque de l’Opera

Paris

Reutlinger Studio (1850-1930)

ca. 1895

Harvard Theatre Collection

As Sarah had great control of her image, she was involved on every level. This jeweled collar for her role s Cleopatra reflect this attention to detail.

Pectoral for Cléopâtre

ca. 1840

metal, pearls, beads, sequins, gold thread

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

It’s quite clear dear Sarah enjoyed her glamour, her image, her presence.

Even her mirror bore her imprint, her motto Quand même (even so).

Standing Mirror

ca. 1875

Edouard Lièvre

Ariadante, Paris

ca. 1891

In closing I may never tire of Sarah, I thank my mother for the intro.


Always eager to throw in beefcake, we have the Divine and the Elegant Brute, the always hot George Sandow.

Good Night