30 Aug 2013

Emotional Response

This is why we prefer finding and doing things we are familiar with - the create the sense of familiarity and security - a desired although highly unreliable emotional response...

I admit I am getting a lot of entertainment, free of charge, sometime at 7 am.
Today we were waking to a life performance of "O sole mio" - not professional but valiant nevertheless performance. Whether one of our neighbours finally came out of the closet with this talent, or an enthusiastic guest...
Well, I am betting on a newly moved neighbour whom I do not know yet...

More positive emotional response?
Vintage inspiration from the net below:
via Antique Daisy

Do you think you cannot get enough of opera singing on Saturday morning?
By now, "O sole mio" was run several times and so was "Nessum Dorma".
I guess you  may say Ottawa is resuming it's colourful phase.
Graphics Fairy

22 Aug 2013

Restoration graphics

For a long time I thrive on being inspired by old items, books, objects of art and decor.
I love the climate of continuity they create, I know - it is illusive, but exciting imaginative nevertheless. I am so glad it is in vogue.
This company Restoration Hardware has showcased massively the ways of putting old and "atmospheric" items together.
Prompted by their bold presentation I am announcing the up-coming Restoration Graphics line where I will produce and show antique-inspired visuals from my collection.

I am off to my Studio to print some of my archival images to enjoy the excitement of the amazing trend.

Here is some totally inspiring bits from Restoration Hardware (www.restorationhardware.com):

Great idea: digital reproduction of old maps
I am totally rushing to seek maps in my vast digital archives

Black&White photos with a smell of a mouse...
There is never any lack of the material - from heirloom to "aged" shots.

Great architectural prints did not go away for long...
So many great resources in old books! All copyright free!

And yes, by all means - all old documents, so stylish....

20 Aug 2013

August 20, 1944

Today, almost 70 years ago.
Seems a bit like a sequel to the background story of my IIWW numismatic find...
Among the acts of greed and hubris that again and again we observe, especially on the high levels, this feels soooo striking.

The Liberation did not reach home for well over six months.
The most (in)famous Vegetarian blew his brains out in the bunker on April 30, 1945.

18 Aug 2013

The Autumn of the Middle Ages

One of the greatest, albeit somewhat bitter joys of the recent times is inheriting part of a book collection that once belonged to our friend and the most formidable intellectual companion - Antony and his wife Anna.

I have been reading first is "The Waning of the Middle Ages", for almost a century a staple read for those interested in the history of medieval Burgundy.

Amazing, vigorous accounts of times in the once vast and powerful reign spanning almost from the South of France to the Netherlands. A rich, often ruthless, eccentric, unjust, opulent yet extremely interesting and vigorous culture that radiated its influence with development in social forms, in art and literature.

The book has been in print, in various editions repeatedly. It has received some criticisms, but - who cares about critics, it still stands as a great read.

It is an older, Polish edition as Antony was a predominantly Polish reader. The illustration on the cover show a sample of courtly portraiture that flourished at that time.

Portrait of a Young Girl, ca 1470
It has been painted by Petrus Christus, a student of Jan van Eyck. 

The genre of young girls portraits became well established in those times as portraits of young "well-born" ladies was an indispensable tool of the matchmaking, the political power arrangement.

The looks mattered, the manner of the sitting was usual formal, the clothes, the jewels and head pieces are now such invaluable window into the way of life at the courts of Europe.

Young ladies at the onset of puberty, often around the age of nine were considered suitable for the marriage negotiations.

In the past, I used to reproduce some of those most beautiful early portraits of young women.

They were usually small, 10 -12 inches max canvases, gloss-varnished and framed in the most antique looking frames I could find.

I think I have neglected my favourite pastime a bit - I should catch up.

Margot Valois by Jean Clouet, 1560

This painting is no longer medieval, but show the continuation of the popular tradition.

It is of the portraits from much later period which I reproduced, enhancing the image file of course considerably, was this one. Beautiful painting that led bringing closer Valois with the rest of the Burbons, and to her becoming the wife of the King of France and Navarre, as the wife of Henry IV.

Remember the movie "Queen Margot" with Isabelle Adjani?

Elisabeth of Austria, ca 1571

Jean Clouet was an accomplished and well sought portrait painter.

Tradition, again, was continued by Jean's son, François Clouet.

Another young and impressively clothed and adorned young lady, later queen of France, wife of Charles IX. ->

Catherine of Aragon
For the record: one of the most stunningly beautiful portraits I had reproduced is this one, attributed in Michel Sittow. This painter was born in what is now known as Riga, Estonia and was also trained in the Early Neaderlandish tradition.

He made his fame and impressive honoraria at the court of the Isabella of Castile* who recommended his skills to Elisabeth, the French Queen. Both ladies were of the Habsburg house, first by marriage, the second by birth.

This exquisite portrait is that of Catherine of Aragon. Staunchly Catholic, the rim of her head-piece and piously lowered gaze suggests the aura of sainthood. She was the daughter of Isabella of Castille and later, the famous first wife of the "infamous" Henry the VIII.

Michel Sittow was trained under Hans Memling likely in Bruges.

Last Judgement, triptych, Hans Memling

Memling continued in the style of Rogier van der Weyden, the Early Flemish painter who, is said, in his days eclipsed van Eyck.

Memling did not specialize in portraiture, but specifically in large religious compositions, with "The Last Judgement" triptych being one of his most magnificent paintings.

Rogier van der Weyden worked in Dutch-speaking Brussels at the court of Philip the Good, a great patron of the arts - the Duke of Burgundy and Count of Artois.

And that's were much of "The Waning of the Middle Ages" takes place...

Oh, to be in Bruges!

Isabella of Portugal by Titian.jpg
Titian, Isabella of Portugal, 1548
I couldn't resist few more portraits, no longer representing Early Neatherlandish (Flemish Primitive) style:

No longer Medieval in style, but clearly renaissance by Titian - portrait of Isabella I of Portugal. This woman was a granddaughter of the powerful Spanish queen Isabella of Aragon*. It has been said that she was a woman of uncanny beauty.She died young leaving many unconsoled.

And last (for now) the portrait of Anne of Cleves, another wife of Henry the VIII.
She was not the most beautiful of the wives, but certainly she has been the subject of one of the most beautiful portraits of all times.


Hans Holbein the Y, Anne of Cleves, ca 1539

Painted by Hans Holbein the Younger, she must have captivated him by a particular demeanor and definitely by this amazing outfit.
Lucas Cranach the Elder,
Sybille of Cleves
, 1526
Regardless of the ornate dress, the same artists made a portrait of yet another wife - Jane Seymour,, making poor Jane looking like a peasant girl in comparison with this absently looking German princess...

Holbein was a Protestant and his style clearly represents the interests of Renaissance. He made considerable career in England after being recommended by the fellow Reformer, Erasmus of Rotterdam to Thomas Moore.

This portrait is of Anne's sister - Sybille of Cleves.
Painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Different painter, different dress...

Judith with the Head of Holofernes
ca 1530
Lucas Cranach the Elder was about 30 years older than Hans Holbein the Younger. Their styles are much different. Cranach is a distinctly a Gothic painter.
The is another portrait of a young woman that needs to me mentioned:

I have written about L.Cranach E. more here.

It's a beautiful painting.

I know, this head... Hmmmmm. I don't know...
Holofernes was apparently a bad dude, but she did him really bad and Lucas Cranas the Elder somehow delighted in the theme....
It has even became one of the favourite themes of art history for a while.
Could it be proto-Feminism, like: Look what can happen to you if you....

8 Aug 2013

A glipmse of the II WW history...

I feel excited, this morning I found a small treasure:
several banknotes which may be revealing its (and likely the book's owner's) IIWW military route, as a Polish II Corp, major tactical and operational unit of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, under Gen. W. Anders

The formative connection with the British Forces begun in the Middle East:
Lebanon 25 Piastres 1942 Poor-G  P. 36
25 Piastres, Rep. of Lebanon, 1942
Italy Allied Military Currency AMC 10 Lira PM19b 1943 aEF
Banknote issued in 1943 by the British
Army for circulation in Tripolitania *

continuing through Italy,

Paper Money Austria 1944 1 schilling Military Issued *
Allierte militarbehorder - 1 shilling,
military issued, 1944 edition

going up North through Austria

50 groschen (small denomination)
also military series, 1944

until Berlin.

Nazi Germany 1937 1 Rentenmark note. Pre World War II issue
Nazi-issued banknote, 1937
Since I had to research the nature and history of those notes, I copied some images, in a little bit I will photograph the original bills I had found...

Something else has been found that sheds more interesting lite on the fate of the finds:an Army Form - A LOADING List.
The form is in English, but filled in Polish.
It is clearly listing supplies for a large number of people it is dated January 1946, which is before all Polish military personnel was disband from the British forces.

Gen Anders inspecting Armoured Forces Training Centre with
Gen Przewlocki and Col Szostak in the background Italy 1945

This amazing encounter with the History of the 2nd World War was attached to a small book, entitled "L'Inquiétude sexuelle" by Dr Pierre Vachet.
It is the title of a book where I found the notes.

I will post more about my inheriting a major book collection where this book was found.
I will also post more about the Polish Armoured Forces and their pet bear!

* For those who may be interested in the subjects here is an excerpt from the Powerhouse Museum, Sidney Australia website:

Object statement
Allied military currency (4), 1, 2, 5, and 10 lire, paper, made by Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, for use by Allied troops, Italy, 1943
 Statement of significance
Military currency and occupation money are money provided for the use of military personnel serving in occupied territory. Depending on circumstances, military currency can be provided by an aggressor or a liberator and take a variety of forms for use by military and / or local populations. In the case of Hawaii in WWII military currency was swapped for the US dollars on the island in preparation for a possible Japanese invasion.

Read more: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=378396#ixzz2eS14aLPe
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

3 Aug 2013

Interior decor trend review in 20 sec

Half-painted walls - definitely great, tops are less prone to wear, "white wash" gives the benefit of natural illumination and sense of space; dark, strong bottom part - super super;

The graphic applique (vinyl or paint) - excellent effect...

Apparently the ombre style spilled from hair to fashion and now roams interiors.
Essentially it stands for a gradient of colour - mostly from lighter to darker...
Below is a really rustic ombre, so painterly...


Below: Old botanical atlas still going strong!
The three decor samples come via shemovesthefurniture, lively Belgian blog.

 I don't know if it is a trend or not, but look at this ceiling! It is divine.


1 Aug 2013

There is an amazing exhibition in London now: Vermeer and Music.
This is just a catalogue book that accompanies the show.

Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure

 There are apparently interesting details revealed about the meaning of musical instruments in art of the period and the notion of Vanitas they carry.
Beauty of composition and harmony vs music's inherent temporal essence as allegory of our mortality.

Needless to say, I am dying to see it.

Oh, did I mention that the general entrance to the National Gallery of London is FREE. Ticket to this marvelous special exhibition is £7.
General entrance to the National Gallery of Canada is $12. Brrrrr
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