30 June 2011

John White Alexander

John White Alexander (7 October 1856 – 31 May 1915) was an American portrait, figure, and decorative painter and illustrator.

                                                     Young Woman Arranging Her Hair

Fancy Dress, 1894

Isabella and the Pot of Basil, 1897

Memories 1903

29 June 2011

Guilhermina Suggia

Guilhermina Augusta Xavier de Medim Suggia Carteado Mena, known as Guilhermina Suggia, (27 June 1885 – 30 July 1950) was a Portuguese cellist. She studied in Germany and with Pablo Casals, and built an international reputation.

She spent many years living in England, where she was particularly celebrated. She retired in 1939, but emerged from retirement to give concerts in Britain. Her last was in 1949, the year before her death. Suggia bequeathed an important British scholarship for young cellists, which has been granted to performers including Rohan de Saram, Jacqueline du Pré and Steven Isserlis.

Suggia was born in Porto to a family of Italian descent. Her father was a competent musician and taught her musical theory and cello. Such was her progress that by the age of 12 she was appointed principal cellist of the local orchestra, the Orpheon Portuense. In 1904, under the patronage of Queen Maria Amélia of Portugal, she went to study at the Leipzig Conservatoire under Julius Klengel.

Within a year Suggia was asked to appear as a soloist with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under its conductor, Arthur Nikisch. From 1906 to 1912 she lived and worked in Paris with the cellist Pablo Casals.It was generally believed, incorrectly, that the two were married, and Suggia was sometimes billed as as "Mme P. Casals-Suggia". She began to tour internationally, building her reputation. She and Casals were rated as "the world's leading cellists."

After they separated, in 1913, Suggia retained her admiration for Casals, describing him as pre-eminent among living cellists. In 1914 she formed a trio with the violinist Jelly d'Arányi and the pianist Fanny Davies.She was particularly celebrated in England, where she lived in the 1920s and 1930s. She was a frequent visitor to Lindisfarne Castle in northern England, where a cello now rests in the Music Room in commemoration of her time spent there.

In 1927, Suggia married José Mena, an X-ray specialist. During World War II, Suggia and her husband returned to Portugal, where she lived in retirement. She visited Britain after the war, giving performances of the Elgar Cello Concerto in aid of charity. She gave her last concerts at the Edinburgh Festival in 1949 and in Bournemouth later the same year. Suggia died in Porto at the age of 62, a year after the death of her husband.

Suggia bequeathed her Stradivarius cello to the Royal Academy of Music in London, to be sold to fund a scholarship for young cellists. The Suggia Gift, established in 1955, has since 1995 been administered by the Musicians' Benevolent Fund. It has been won by cellists including Rohan de Saram (1955), Jacqueline du Pré (1956), Hafliði Hallgrímsson, Steven Isserlis, Raphael Wallfisch and Julian Lloyd Webber. In 2010 it was announced that the 2011 Suggia Gift would be run in association with the 2011 International Guilhermina Suggia Festival, held in her native city.

The large auditorium at Casa da Música in Porto is named Sala Suggia in her honour. Suggia made a small number of gramophone recordings. They include Haydn's D major Concerto with John Barbirolli and Saint-Saëns's A minor Concerto with Lawrence Collingwood. They were reissued on compact disc in 1989.

Guilhermina Suggia plays Kol Nidrei from Max Bruch

28 June 2011

Lillie Langtry

by Edward Poynter 1878

Lillie Langtry (13 October 1853 – 12 February 1929), born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was a British actress born on the island of Jersey. A renowned beauty, she was nicknamed the "Jersey Lily" and had a number of prominent lovers, including the future king of England, Edward VII.

by Frank Miles

Emilie Charlotte Le Breton was the only daughter of the Dean of Jersey, Rev. William Corbet Le Breton. He gained an unsavoury reputation because of a number of extramarital affairs and, when his wife finally left him in 1880, he left Jersey. He had eloped to Gretna Green with Lillie's mother, Emilie Davis (nee Martin), who was known for her beauty. In 1842, he married her at Chelsea. One of Lillie's ancestors was Richard le Breton,one of the reputed assassins of Saint Thomas a Becket in 1170. 

She had six brothers, all but one older than she. Proving too much for her French governess, Lillie was educated by her brothers' tutor, becoming unusually well educated for women of the time. In 1874, twenty-year-old Lillie married twenty-six-year-old Irish landowner Edward Langtry, a widower who had been married to the sister of her brother William's wife. They held their wedding reception at The Royal Yacht Hotel, in St. Helier, Jersey. He was wealthy enough to own a yacht, and Lillie insisted that he take her away from the Channel Islands. Eventually, they rented a place in Belgravia, London.

Lord Ranalegh, a friend of her father and sister-in-law, invited Lillie Langtry to a high-society reception at which she attracted notice for her beauty and wit. In contrast to more elaborate clothing, she wore a simple black dress (which was to become her trademark) and no jewelry. Before the end of the evening, Frank Miles had completed several sketches of her that became very popular on postcards.  Another guest, Sir John Everett Millais, eventually painted her portrait. Langtry's nickname, the "Jersey Lily," was taken from the Jersey lily flower (Amaryllis belladonna) – a symbol of Jersey. The nickname was popularised by Millais' portrait, entitled A Jersey Lily. She also sat for Sir Edward Poynter and is depicted in works by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. 

A Jersey Lily, by John Everett Millais, 1878

She became much sought after in London society, and invitations flooded in. Her fame soon reached royal ears. The Prince of Wales, Albert Edward ("Bertie"), arranged to sit next to Langtry at a dinner party given by Sir Allen Young on 24 May 1877 (her husband was seated at the other end of the table.) Though he was married to Princess Alexandra and had six children, Edward was a well-known philanderer. He became infatuated with Langtry and she became his semi-official mistress. She was even presented to Edward's mother, Queen Victoria. Eventually, a cordial relationship developed between her and Princess Alexandra.
The affair lasted from late 1877 to June 1880.

Edward had the Red House (now Langtry Manor Hotel) constructed in Bournemouth, Dorset in 1877 as a private retreat for the couple. He allowed Langtry to design it. Edward once complained to her, "I've spent enough on you to build a battleship," whereupon she tartly replied, "And you've spent enough in me to float one". The tradition is that their relationship finally cooled when she misbehaved at a dinner party, but she had been eclipsed when Sarah Bernhardt came to London in June 1879.

In July 1879 Langtry began an affair with the Earl of Shrewsbury; in January 1880 Langtry and the earl were planning to run away together. In the fall of 1879 there were rumours published in Town Talk that her husband would divorce her and cite, with others, the Prince of Wales. For some time, the Prince saw little of her. He remained fond of her and spoke well of her in her later career as a theatre actress. With the withdrawal of royal favour, creditors closed in. The Langtrys' finances were not equal to their lifestyle. In October 1880 Langtry sold many of her possessions to meet her debts. Edward Langtry did not officially declare bankruptcy.

In April 1879, Langtry started an affair with Prince Louis of Battenberg, although she was also involved with Arthur Clarence Jones (1854–1930), an old friend. In June 1880, she became pregnant. Her husband was definitely not the father; she led Prince Louis to believe that it was him. When the prince confessed to his parents, they had him assigned to the warship HMS Inconstant. Given some money by the Prince of Wales, Langtry retired to Paris with Arthur Jones. On March 8, 1881, she gave birth to a daughter, Jeanne Marie.
The discovery of Langtry's passionate letters to Arthur Jones in 1878 and their publication by Laura Beatty in 1999 support the idea that Jones was the father. Prince Louis's son, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, had always maintained that his father was the father of Jeanne Marie.

At either the suggestion of her close friend Oscar Wilde or Sarah Bernhardt, Lillie embarked upon a stage career. In December 1881, she made her debut before the London public in She Stoops to Conquer at the Haymarket Theatre. The following autumn, she made her first tour of the United States, to enormous success, which she repeated in subsequent years. While the critics generally condemned her interpretations of roles such as Pauline in the Lady of Lyons or Rosalind in As You Like It, the public loved her. In 1903, she starred in America in The Crossways, written by her in collaboration with J. Hartley Manners. She returned to the United States for tours in 1906 and again in 1912, appearing in vaudeville.

From 1882 to 1891, Langtry had a relationship with the New York City millionaire Frederic Gebhard. With him, she became involved in the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing. In 1900, Langtry's horse Merman, ridden by American Tod Sloan, won the Ascot Gold Cup. In 1897, Langtry became an American citizen. She divorced her husband Edward Langtry the same year in Lakeport, California. Edward Langtry died a few months later following an accident. A letter of condolence later written by Langtry to another widow reads in part, "I too have lost a husband, but alas! it was no great loss."

Langtry was involved in a relationship with George Alexander Baird, millionaire amateur jockey and pugilist from April 1891 until his death at New Orleans in March 1893. In 1899, she married the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe. He inherited a baronetcy and became a leading owner in the horse-racing world, before retiring to Monte Carlo. During her final years, Langtry resided in a home in Monaco, with her husband living a short distance away. The two saw one another only when she called on him for social gatherings or in brief private encounters. Her constant companion during this time was her close friend, Mathilda Peat, the widow of her butler.

From 1900 to 1903, Langtry was the lessee and manager of London's Imperial Theatre. Keen's Chop House in New York says that Langtry sued them in 1905 over their gentlemen's-only seating policy and won, then sailed in wearing a feather boa and ordered a mutton chop. Langtry died in Monaco in 1929. She was buried in the graveyard of St. Saviour's Church in Jersey.

Langtry used her high public profile to endorse commercial products such as cosmetics and soap, becoming an early example of celebrity endorsement. Her famous ivory complexion brought her income as the first woman to endorse a commercial product, advertising Pears Soap. Her fee was allied to her weight so she was paid 'pound for pound'. Scholars believe the fictitious character of Irene Adler in a Sherlock Holmes novel, who bested the private investigator when he sought an incriminating photograph of her and a European monarch, is based upon Langtry.

source: Wikipedia

24 June 2011

The Birth of the Pearl - 1901

Proprietors of the arcade parlors and nickelodeons with hand-cranked kinetoscopes, designed to provide cheap entertainment for poor, lower-class immigrants in the cities, realized that sex (or erotica) sold - as in this short provocative American Mutoscope & Biograph film about the 'birth of a pearl' in an art tableau. When the curtains were drawn to the side by two clothed chorus girls, a large oyster or clam shell was revealed in front of a painted backdrop of the ocean. As the shell opened, a sleeping or slumbering long-haired young model (wearing a flesh-colored body stocking) was curled up, but then slowly awakened from slumber and stood up.

23 June 2011

Après le bal - 1897

Georges Meliés directed this film, with one of the earliest nude scenes in film history, in which a fully-dressed was helped to undress by a maid for a bath.

21 June 2011

Julia Margaret Cameron

The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere

Vivien and Merlin

Elaine the Lily Maid of Astolat

The Rosebud Garden of Girls 1868

The Echo 1868

The Day Spring 1865

Mariana 1875

The Mountain Nymph 1866

Sappho 1865


Pre-Raphaelite Study 1870

Gretchen at the Altar 1870-74

20 June 2011

Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron by Henry Herschel Hay Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron (11 June 1815 – 26 January 1879) was a British photographer. She became known for her portraits of celebrities of the time, and for photographs with Arthurian and other legendary themes. Cameron's photographic career was short, spanning eleven years of her life (1864–1875). She took up photography at the relatively late age of 48, when she was given a camera as a present. Although her style was not widely appreciated in her own day, her work has had an impact on modern photographers, especially her closely cropped portraits.

Julia Margaret Cameron was born Julia Margaret Pattle in Calcutta, India, to James Pattle, a British official of the East India Company, and Adeline de l'Etang, a daughter of French aristocrats. Julia was from a family of celebrated beauties, and was considered an ugly duckling among her sisters. Cameron was educated in France, but returned to India, and in 1838 married Charles Hay Cameron, a jurist and member of the Law Commission stationed in Calcutta, who was twenty years her senior. In 1848, Charles Hay Cameron retired, and the family moved to London, England. 

Cameron's sister, Sarah Prinsep, had been living in London and hosted a salon at Little Holland House, the dower house of Holland House in Kensington, where famous artists and writers regularly visited. In 1860, Cameron visited the estate of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson on the Isle of Wight. Julia was taken with the location, and the Cameron family purchased a property on the island soon after. They called it Dimbola Lodge after the family's Ceylon estate.

Charles Darwin 1869

In 1863, when Cameron was 48 years old, her daughter gave her a camera as a present, thereby starting her career as a photographer. Within a year, Cameron became a member of the Photographic Societies of London and Scotland. In her photography, Cameron strove to capture beauty. She wrote, "I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied."

The basic techniques of soft-focus "fancy portraits", which she later developed, were taught to her by David Wilkie Wynfield. She later wrote that "to my feeling about his beautiful photography I owed all my attempts and indeed consequently all my success". Alfred Lord Tennyson, her neighbour on the Isle of Wight, often brought friends to see the photographer.

Julia Prinsep Jackson, her niece

Cameron was sometimes obsessive about her new occupation, with subjects sitting for countless exposures in the blinding light as she laboriously coated, exposed, and processed each wet plate. The results were, in fact, unconventional in their intimacy and their particular visual habit of created blur through both long exposures, where the subject moved and by leaving the lens intentionally out of focus. This led some of her contemporaries to complain and even ridicule the work, but her friends and family were supportive, and she was one of the most prolific and advanced of amateurs in her time.

Henry Longfellow

During her career, Cameron registered each of her photographs with the copyright office and kept detailed records. Her shrewd business sense is one reason that so many of her works survive today. Another reason that many of Cameron's portraits are significant is because they are often the only existing photograph of historical figures. Many paintings and drawings exist, but, at the time, photography was still a new and challenging medium for someone outside a typical portrait studio.

Mrs. Herbert Fischer

The bulk of Cameron's photographs fit into two categories – closely framed portraits and illustrative allegories based on religious and literary works. In the allegorical works in particular, her artistic influence was clearly Pre-Raphaelite, with far-away looks and limp poses and soft lighting.

Herschel 1867

Cameron's sister ran the artistic scene at Little Holland House, which gave her many famous subjects for her portraits. Some of her famous subjects include: Charles Darwin, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, John Everett Millais, William Michael Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ellen Terry and George Frederic Watts. Most of these distinctive portraits are cropped closely around the subject's face and are in soft focus. Cameron was often friends with these Victorian celebrities, and tried to capture their personalities in her photos. 

"Beatrice" 1866

Cameron's posed photographic illustrations represent the other half of her work. In these illustrations, she frequently photographed historical scenes or literary works, which often took the quality of oil paintings. However, she made no attempt in hiding the backgrounds. Cameron's friendship with Tennyson led to him asking her to photograph illustrations for his Idylls of the King. These photographs are designed to look like oil paintings from the same time period, including rich details like historical costumes and intricate draperies. Today, these posed works are sometimes dismissed by art critics. Nevertheless, Cameron saw these photographs as art, just like the oil paintings they imitated.

"Pomona" 1872

In 1875, the Camerons moved back to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Julia continued to practice photography but complained in letters about the difficulties of getting chemicals and pure water to develop and print photographs. Also, in India, she did not have access to Little Holland House's artistic community. She also did not have a market to distribute her photographs as she had in England. Because of this, Cameron took fewer pictures in India. These pictures were of posed Indian natives, paralleling the posed pictures that Cameron had taken of neighbours in England. Almost none of Cameron's work from India survives. Cameron caught a bad chill and died in Kalutara, Ceylon in 1879.

Julia Jackson, mother of Virginia Woolf

Cameron's niece Julia Prinsep Stephen (née Jackson; 1846–1895), her favourite subject, and mother of the author Virginia Woolf, wrote the biography of Cameron, which appeared in the first edition of the Dictionary of National Biography, 1886. Virginia Woolf wrote a comic portrayal of the "Freshwater circle" in her only play Freshwater. Woolf edited, with Roger Fry, a collection of Cameron's photographs. However, it was not until 1948 that her photography became more widely known when Helmut Gernsheim wrote a book on her work.

Source: Wikipedia

Selfportrait 1870s
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