Sadly, as previously noted on Tigerloaf, England’s greatest painter never visited the Cradle of the Arts. This highly Romantic vision of the Acropolis was achieved in 1830, based on a drawing by the architect Thomas Allason and coloured by Turner’s vivid sensibility. Two years later it was engraved by John Cousen for publication in Finden’s Illustrations of the Life and Works of Lord Byron.
Archive for the Painting Category
I have finished my week-long tribute to the undeservedly neglected art of Suzanne Valadon but found two more images in my collection which I couldn’t resist sharing. These are excellent still lifes and the second painting could almost be mistaken for Braque.
Today we celebrate the birth of Ida Rubinstein, actress, dancer and patron of the arts. Rubinstein was born into one of Imperial Russia’s wealthiest families, which gave her the best artistic education that money could buy whilst thwarting her passionate desire to make art herself. Her brother-in-law went to the extraordinary length of having her committed to an insane asylum in order to keep her off the public stage. As a young woman she frequented the febrile artistic circles of Saint Petersburg, befriending Léon Bakst, Michel Fokine and Sergei Diaghilev, soon to form the fabled Ballets Russes. In 1909 Rubinstein starred in Cléopâtre during the company’s debut season in Paris. Though not the most proficient dancer in the company she was among the most beautiful and captivating and her appearance opposite Vaslav Nijinsky in Scheherazade must have been sensationally sensual. Rubinstein left the Ballets Russes in 1911 to form her own company, with Nijinsky’s sister Bronislava Nijinska as choreographer. One of her first productions, the mystery play Le Martyre de saint Sébastien, with text by Gabriele D’Annunzio and music by Claude Debussy, was anathematized by the Bishop of Paris. In 1928 she conceived the ballet Boléro, commissioning from Maurice Ravel the orchestral score that would become his most famous work. For her services to art the government of France rewarded her with honorary citizenship and the Legion of Honour. She retired from the stage on the eve of the Second World War, which she spent in England aiding the forces of the Free French. Ida Rubinstein passed her last years quietly in Vence where she died in 1960, and where her sadly neglected grave can be visited today.
The paintings by Jacques-Émile Blanche and the photographs, possibly by Eugène Druet, show Rubinstein in her most famous role, Zobéide in Scheherazade
There was a valley, thick set with pitch-trees and the sharp-pointed cypress; by name Gargaphie, sacred to the active Diana. In the extreme recess of this, there was a grotto in a grove, formed by no art; nature, by her ingenuity, had counterfeited art; for she had formed a natural arch, in the native pumice and the light sand-stones. A limpid fountain ran murmuring on the right hand with its little stream, having its spreading channels edged with a border of grass. Here, when wearied with hunting, the Goddess of the woods was wont to bathe her virgin limbs in clear water.
After she had entered there, she handed to one of the Nymphs, her armor-bearer, her javelin, her quiver, and her unstrung bow. Another Nymph put her arms under her mantle, when taken off: two removed the sandals from her feet. But Crocale, the daughter of Ismenus, more skilled than they, gathered her hair, which lay scattered over her neck, into a knot, although she herself was with her hair loose. Nephele, and Hyale, and Rhanis, fetch water, and Phyale do the same, and pour it from their large urns. And while the Titanian Goddess was there bathing in the wonted stream, behold! the grandson of Cadmus, having deferred the remainder of his sport till next day, came into the grove, wandering through the unknown wood, with uncertain steps; thus did his fate direct him.
Soon as he entered the grotto, dropping with its springs, the Nymphs, naked as they were, on seeing a man, smote their breasts, and filled all the woods with sudden shrieks, and gathering round Diana, covered her with their bodies. Yet the Goddess herself was higher than they, and was taller than them all by the neck. The color that is wont to be in clouds, tinted by the rays of the sun when opposite, or that of the ruddy morning, was on the features of Diana, when seen without her garments. She, although surrounded with the crowd of her attendants, stood sideways, and turned her face back; and how did she wish that she had her arrows at hand; and so she took up water, which she did have at hand, and threw it over the face of the man, and sprinkling his hair with the avenging stream, she added these words, the presages of his future woe: “Now thou mayst tell, if tell thou canst, how that I was seen by thee without my garments.” Threatening no more, she places on his sprinkled head the horns of a lively stag; she adds length to his neck, and sharpens the tops of his ears; and she changes his hands into feet, and his arms into long legs, and covers his body with a spotted coat of hair; fear, too is added.
Text –Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book III, translated by Henry T. Riley
Image –Diana and Actaeon by Giuseppe Cesari, c. 1602
You little stars that live in skies
And glory in Apollo’s glory,
In whose aspècts conjoinèd lies
The heaven’s will and nature’s story,
Joy to be likened to those eyes,
Which eyes make all eyes glad or sorry;
For when you force thoughts from above,
These overrule your force by love.
And thou, O Love, which in these eyes
Hast married Reason with Affection,
And made them saints of Beauty’s skies,
Where joys are shadows of perfection,
Lend me thy wings that I may rise
Up, not by worth, but thy election;
For I have vowed in strangest fashion
To love and never seek compassion.
Text –From Caelica by Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, 1633
Image –Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
The nurse-life wheat within his green husk growing,
Flatters our hope, and tickles our desire,
Nature’s true riches in sweet beauties showing,
Which sets all hearts, with labor’s love, on fire.
No less fair is the wheat when golden ear
Shows unto hope the joys of near enjoying;
Fair and sweet is the bud, more sweet and fair
the rose, which proves that time is not destroying.
Caelica, your youth, the morning of delight,
Enamel’d o’er with beauties white and red,
All sense and thoughts did to belief invite,
That love and glory there are brought to bed;
And your ripe year’s love-noon; he goes no higher,
Turns all the spirits of man into desire.