Archive for the Art Category
“Was the idea of God alive at all in me? No: if you mean the traditional idea. But that was a symbol, vague, variable, mythical, anthropomorphic; the symbol for an overwhelming reality, a symbol that named and unified in human speech the incalculable powers on which our destiny depends. To observe, record, and measure the method by which these powers operate is not to banish the idea of God: it is what the Hebrews called meditating on his ways. The modern hatred of religion is not, like that of the Greek philosophers, a hatred of poetry, for which they wished to substitute cosmology, mathematics, or dialectic, still maintaining the reverence of man for what is superhuman. The modern hatred of religion is hatred of the truth, hatred of all sublimity, hatred of the laughter of the gods. It is puerile human vanity trying to justify itself by a lie.”
Text: George Santayana, My Host the World. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953
Image: William Blake, The Ancient of Days setting a Compass to the Earth, frontispiece to copy K of Europe a Prophecy, 1821, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
The fair-haired daughters of Bistonia shed a thousand tears for Orpheus dead, the son of Calliope and Oeagrus; they stained their tattooed arms with blood, and dyed their Thracian locks with black ashes. The very Muses of Pieria, with Apollo, master of the lute, burst into tears mourning for the singer, and the rocks moaned, and the trees, that erst he charmed with his lovely lyre.
Text: Anonymous, The Greek Anthology VII:10 translated by W. R. Paton. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1917
Image: Terracotta Funerary Plaque, ca. 520–510 BC, Metropolitan Museum
No more, Orpheus, shalt thou lead the charmed oaks and rocks and the shepherdless herds of wild beasts. No more shalt thou lull to sleep the howling winds and the hail, and the drifting snow, and the roaring sea. For dead thou art; and the daughters of Mnemosyne bewailed thee much, and before all thy mother Calliope. Why sigh we for our dead sons, when not even the gods have power to protect their children from death?
Text: Antipater of Sidon (late 2nd century BC), The Greek Anthology VII:8 translated by W. R. Paton. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1917
Image: Sculptural Group of a Seated Poet and Sirens, c. 350 – 300 BC, Getty Villa
Madame Sabatier en Bacchante
Apollonie Sabatier ‘La Présidente’
mixed media on paper, c. 1848?
Musée National du Château de Compiègne
Baudelaire et la Présidente Sabatier
Thomas Couture (attributed)
oil on canvas, c. 1850
Musée d’Art Roger-Quilliot, Clermont-Ferrand
La Dame au Petit Chien
oil on canvas, 1850
photograph, c. 1860
The model for Clésinger’s sublime Bacchante couchée and Femme piquée par un serpent, mistress and muse of Baudelaire, Apollonie Sabatier was one of the great femmes inspiratrices of mid-19th century Paris. In her salon in the Rue Frochot, Sabatier was host to the great artists and bohemians of the age; Nerval, Gautier, Berlioz, Manet, Doré, Hugo and many others. Such was her majesty that she was known as “La Présidente”
The sculptor Auguste Clésinger was a prominent member of the bohemian art world of mid-19th century Paris, and particularly of the circle of Frédéric Chopin and George Sand, whose daughter Solange he married in 1847. When Chopin died on 17 October 1849, Clésinger made his death mask and a cast of his hands. He also sculpted, in 1850, the marble funerary monument of Euterpe, the muse of music, for Chopin’s grave.