29 January 2011

Enjoying the Five Senses: The Stylish Blogger Award


Kelly T. Keating, of the extremely stylish blog The Great Within, www.thegreatwithin.org has honored Porcelains and Peacocks with the Stylish Blogger Award. In response the honoree must tell seven aspects of themselves and favor ten other bloggers with the award.

In lieu of seven items, I offer five images that stir my senses:
Sight: James McNeil Whistler, Nocturne en bleu et argent
Sound: Tim Buckley, Goodbye and Hello
Taste: Vinho do Porto
Smell: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Mimosa
Touch: David Lynch, Blue Velvet

For symmetry I've listed five stylish blogs that I enjoy. They are in random order:
1. It's About Time http://bjws.blogspot.com
2. Designed Squared http://ashfieldhansendesign.blogspot.com
3. A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences http://www.adiscourseontheartsandsciences.net/blog
4. Art Inconnu http://www.artinconnu.com
5. A Journey Round My Skull http://ajourneyroundmyskull.blogspot.com

For a more complete list of my stylish blogs please check out Fine Plumed Friends.

28 January 2011

14 January 2011

Simeon Solomon: The Rise and Fall of an Artist



Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) was a British painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement. For a time his work was dismissed because of his "degenerate habits"; he is now celebrated for his accomplishments as well as for being a gay man living in Victorian England. Born in London to an artistic Jewish family he attended Royal Academy Schools where he became known for his remarkable paintings of Old Testament subjects. There he met Pre-Raphaelite artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones along with their creative circle.

Through this group he was introduced to the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) who influenced him with his love of classicism and erotica. Solomon illustrated Swinburn's pornographic novel Lesbia Brandon and his ode to flagellation, The Flogging-Block. He was also informed by the classical world he saw on his visits to Italy and used allegory and personification in his art. In 1873, at the height of his popularity he was arrested at a public urinal in London for attempting to commit sodomy and fined £100. The following year he was arrested in Paris on a similar charge. This time he was sentenced to three months in prison.

As a result of the scandal his influential friends shunned him including Swinburne with whom he once romped naked at Rossetti's home. By 1884 Solomon was living in a workhouse and died as a pauper from a heart failure as a result of alcoholism. He is shown at a happier time in Oriental costume photographed by David Wilkie Wynfield (1837-1887).

11 January 2011

The Artist and the Muse: James Tissot and Mrs. Kathleen Newton

French painter Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902) took the Anglicized first name James after meeting James McNeil Whistler. Known for his paintings of fashionable women and his later religious studies, Tissot studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Ingres, Flandrin, and Lamothe. His friendships included fellow painters Degas and Manet. Tissot left Paris to live in London because of his alleged evolvement in the Paris Commune of 1871. It was in London he met Kathleen Irene Ashburnham Kelly Newton (1854-1882) who would become his muse, model and mistress.


Mrs. Newton was a hauntingly beautiful Irish Catholic divorcee who had spent her childhood in Lahore and Agra. The family moved to London when her father, an Irish army officer retired. Charles Frederick Ashburnham Kelly betrothed his stunning seventeen year old daughter to a surgeon in India, Dr. Isaac Newton. On her voyage to India, Captain Palliser unsuccessfully tried to seduce her. She confessed this to her husband on their wedding night who considered her damaged goods. The marriage was not consummated and Newton divorced her. Mrs. Newton's passage back to England was paid by Palliser who as compensation insisted she become his mistress. Although she became pregnant, she refused to marry him and she and her daughter went to live with her sister in St. John's Wood.


Tissot's paintings which depicted an ephemeral world of elegant women in glamorous settings, feature Mrs. Newton as the model. She moved into his household in St. John's Wood in 1876 and bore him a son. It was an ideal life that Tissot described as "domestic bliss" until she contracted tuberculosis. At the age of twenty-eight, in the last stages of the disease Mrs. Newton chose to take an overdose of laudanum. After losing his "delightful Irish", Tissot left London and eventually the material world he showed in his paintings. Turning to religion and spirituality he traveled to Palestine where he illustrated The Life of Christ. In Tissot's The Annunciation, the face of the Angel Annunciate bears a likeness to his beloved muse, Mrs. Newton.

04 January 2011

Harmony in Blue and Green, 2: The Peacock and Renewal

For ancient cultures the Peacock became a symbol of rebirth and immortality. The bird lost its tail feathers each year only to re-grow them and it was believed that their flesh did not decay after death. Peacocks are the perfect symbol for renewal on the cold days of winter. French naturalist Charles D'Orbigny (1802-1857) did highly detailed and scientifically accurate illustrations of nature including his rendering of The Peacock from Dictionnaire Universel d'Histoire Naturelle. Edgar Maxence (1871-1954) was a French Symbolist who studied under Gustave Moreau. Influenced by early Italian Renaissance and late English Pre-Raphaelite artists he painted Portrait with Peacock, using gouache, pastels and silver foil. American Art Nouveau illustrator and artist William H. Bradley (1868-1962) studied the Arts and Crafts Movement and Japanese block prints. His bold, elegant style can be seen in his depiction of the immortal Peacock.