26 November 2011

From the Fairy Realm or Rats in High Heels


A dear friend of Porcelains and Peacocks refers to deer as "rats in high heels" because they dine on his perfectly landscaped property. P & P is seduced by their graceful independence. Many cultures have viewed them as supernatural; the Celts believed they were connected to the fairy realm. American artist Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900-1931) illustrated the fairy tale Princess Blondine with the cat Beau Minon and his mother, the deer Bonne-Biche. Franz Marc (1880-1916) was a German Expressionist who is remembered for his vibrant renderings of animals including deer. A WPA poster created in the late 1930's reminds us Don't Kill Our Wild Life, especially those controversial deer.

19 November 2011

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
~ Meister Eckhart

The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth in 1621 was a harmonious collaboration between the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag nation. Celebrating the colony's first successful harvest it featured cornbread made from the crop that the Native Americans had taught the staving Colonists to grow. The banquet also included venison, wild fowl, eel, lobster, onions, squash, and berries. Relations between the settlers and the original inhabitants did not remain cordial. In the early nineteenth century the American artist Charles Bird King (1785-1862) was commissioned by the government to create portraits of Native American leaders and their vanishing life. William H. Bradley (1868-1962) introduced Art Nouveau style to America in his 1895 Thanksgiving color lithograph for the literary journal The Chap-Book. The Boston born artist depicted two women wearing voluminous pumpkin shaped dresses and carrying abundant trays of food. A poster from 1880 promotes California as The Cornucopia of the World. It encouraged farmers to migrate West to a new land of health and wealth leaving behind cyclones and blizzards.


10 November 2011

Change and Transformation: Autumn in Art



Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.
Faith Baldwin
The vivid colors of Autumn's foliage and harvest have inspired many writers and artists. Belgian painter and decorative artist, Xavier Mellery (1845-1921) depicts leaves as women dancing through air catching on a spider's web. Autumn is also portrayed as a woman by Polish-Armenian artist Teodor Axentowicz (1859-1938). She lies languorously in a bed of leaves covered by cobwebs and supported by a mischievous fawn. In The Tuileries Garden a marble term of Vertumnus, the roman god of seasons, change and transformation hides amid the leaves ready to seduce Pomona the goddess of fruitful abundance.

04 November 2011

Golden November: Topaz and Chrysanthemum


November is a golden month with the birthstone of yellow topaz and the birth flower Chrysanthemum. During the Middle Ages the topaz was thought to be a talisman that could heal illnesses of both the mind and body while postponing death. One of the largest known deposits of the gemstone is located in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The stone was incorporated into Portuguese jewelry of the eighteenth century like the intricate bodice ornament. Sprays of flowers composed of rock crystal set in silver flank an oval sherry topaz that terminates in a bow with a large pear drop. Alphonse Mucha, the Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist depicted the gemstone as a beautiful tawny woman. Chrysanthemum is from the Greek meaning gold flower. Because it is a perennial it is a symbol of returning wisdom. Austrian painter Egon Schiele (1890-1918) painted a white Chrysanthemum, signifying truth.

Photo of bodice ornament from Victoria & Albert collections.