December 28, 2010

Step into an 18th Century dream

When artist Mihail Chemiakin re-imagined the Nutcracker Ballet for the Kirov Ballet, he went back to basics.  The artist created his own vision of the story- incredibly dream-like with fairytale imagery dipped in the style of the 18th century.  There is something magical about the styles of the period and when Chemiakin's characters are suited in it, they take on true personality.

My coworker saw the premier of the ballet in Paris and was so blown away by the sets, characters and stage she had to show me the accompanying book. (thank goodness she did!) I promptly bought my own copy, of Staging the Nutcracker.

The book is a bit of a documentary on Chemiakin as he draws and designs the scenes for his Nutcracker.  Each page features a sketch, drawing or final image of his characters and stage scenes.  It also features a few brief pages by the artist himself, explaining his influences for the new ballet.
"In my version of the Nutcracker I have tried to revive the spirit of Hoffman¹ with Hoffman's characteristic element of grotesque humor, strangeness and transformations, as well as to unite the visual side of the ballet with the musical power and high drama of this work by Tchaikovsky. In some ways I have resurrected the original libretto of Petipa,² which has been deformed and forgotten."

Filled with fancy macaroni's, well dressed rats and other creatures of only the best sort of "dreams" the imagery from Staging the Nutcracker will walk you through the story.  My favorite moment is when the adults enter their dressing room to be dressed for the Christmas Party.  The room is fitted with fabulous wigs for him and her (he has more than she) shoes, hats of all shapes and sizes and frocks.  Such fun!



Staging the Nutcracker is available from:
amazon.com
amazon.uk
Barnes and Nobels

If you pick up the book, let me know what you think! Also, if you have seen the ballet please tell us about it!

¹Author of the Nutcracker, 1816
²The Nutcracker premiered 18 December 1892 on a double bill with Tchaikovsky's opera Iolanta at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre apparently choreographed by Petipa. Many critics of the day considered the work to not even be a ballet at all, with far to much emphasis on spectacle rather than drama (from Wikipedia)

December 27, 2010

Holiday giveaway winners!

Thank you for entering my holiday giveaway! If you have not yet, read through some of the entries, there were so many interesting bits of scandal discussed!! I really enjoyed reading them as they came in!

All four winners were selected using random.org number generator, they are:

La Grande Odalisque mini notepad:
Rebecca L
heidilea

Marie Antoinette inspired keepsake box:
Quinne

Juicy Couture Clue Game:
Alexandra

To the winners- please send me an email with your mailing address, and I will send out the items! Items need to be claimed by January 9.

Thanks again to everyone for entering I look forward to hearing from you in the new year! ~Lauren 

December 20, 2010

Tis the Giveaway Season

The end of the year has snuck up on me so quickly I was hardly prepared for all the engagements and invitations, planning, gift buying, organizing, wrapping etc....  baking! oh my.  I am sure many of you are just as busy or last minute as me perhaps?

In honor of the season and new year I am happy to present the end of season giveaway!  It has been a really wonderful year here, lots of good gossip, art, fashion and scandals to talk about and I have particularly enjoyed getting to hear from so many readers! It is so great to read through the comments and emails and I hope to hear from more of you and more often!

There are 4 prizes to win in this giveaway:

Two lucky readers will receive a fotofolio mini-note book featuring  La Grande Odalisque by Jean-August-Dominique Ingres.  The notebook has an elastic closure, and is very handy for travel- from the Louvre.



One reader will receive a lovely mini Marie Antoinette inspired keepsake box, in the shape of a book, with a green tea vegetable based barre de savon! There is even a little cameo on the inside lid! (by Punch Studio)

And the final 'grand' prize will go to one reader: a copy of the Juicy Couture edition of Clue! Perfect for hosting parties with tea, finger sandwiches and scandal! 
When Heather first showed me this edition I nearly fell off my chair! Complete with a fun description:
Discover the secrets behind the Crimes of Couture. The favorite Clue® game gets a very Juicy makeover.

-Custom game board's floor plan depicts Juicy locales such as The Shoe Salon, a Candy Room, and a Design Studio.For ages 9+.
-Six movers.
-Nine silvertone Couture pieces.
-Six personality cards.
-Deck of rumor cards.
-Deck of intrigue cards.
-Custom score pad.
-Scandal envelope.
-Two dice.

How to Enter:
To enter simply leave a comment on this post with your favorite bit of 18th century gossip: a story about something or someone or fun fact, it can be something you have learned here or elsewhere, anything at all relating to the 18th century!

You may enter the giveaway through midnight, Sunday 26 December winners will be posted Monday 27 December.
Good luck and Happy holidays!

~~~~Thank you for entering!~~~~
 ~~~~The giveaway is closed.~~~~
~~~~Winners will be posted Monday Dec. 27, check back!~~~~

December 16, 2010

The Fashionable Male: Sir Brooke Boothby

 Joseph Wright, Sir Brooke Boothby. 1781, Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery.

Here we have Sir Brooke Boothby, a poet of sonnets.  He was also a writer, publishing his reflections on the French Revolution in 1791 in "A Letter to the Right Honorable Edmund Burke," and again in 1792 with "Observations on the Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, and on Mr. Paine's Rights of Man. in Two Parts."

Here Sir Boothby lounges in a wooded patch of land surrounded by vegetation and a few sun spots.  A little stream of water runs across stones in front of him.  The sun sets in the background offering a warm glow on Brooke; the setting provides the ideal place to escape, read and reflect.  He has just paused from reading Rousseau, according to the Tate this references his publication of the philosopher's Dialogues. 

Brooke wears a frock coat with a turned down collar over a matching waistcoat that appears to be cut across the waist.  His breeches feature cloth covered buttons that mimic those on his sleeves.  He turns towards us with his waistcoat partly unbuttoned.  This suggests that he has been reading alone for a while, unsuspecting of company.  With camel gloves and and modern hat, Boothby at 36 years old, is a truly well educated, enlightened and fashionable male.

December 13, 2010

Art du jour: Le Rendezvous pour Marly

Jean Michel Moreau. Le Rendezvous pour Marly, 1776-83. Print, Etching and engraving. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

December 08, 2010

Exhibtion: Tivoli: Variations on a Landscape in the 18th Century

Gaspar van Wittel, View of Tivoli. 1700, oil on canvas. The Walters Art Museum.

Have you been to Tivoli? What about 18th century Tivloi? (here is your chance!)

A city set on rising ground, a mere thirty miles from Rome; the town was celebrated in the age of Augustus, and promoted by Horace, it was visualized by Turner and Piranesi, described as splendid, rich with vegetation and olive trees.  The gardens and waterfalls inspired Fragonard, and you can see them in the painting above on the left.  It was the home of the Temple of Sibyl and Vestus; the excavation of the site made a famous place for excursions in the 18th century.  It was noted that those who wished to visit the city of Tivoli do so in May or October when the weather was most fair and dry.  All the buzz about the town brought artists there.

The Temple of Sibyl at Tivoli was famous as the oldest in the city, round and flanked by four splendid ionic columns.  By the end of the 18th century the Temple of Sibyl had been converted to a church, and visitors found nothing much on the interior.  Rather the exterior and setting were the main attraction of the site.

The hillside was so high it overlooked the town all the way to the sea, several waterfalls adding movement and a calmness through the area.  In the 18th century Tivoli was a best kept secret- highly appreciated when visited.  With its rich history and ideal surroundings it is no wonder the site became so popular, not only for tourists, but for art as well. 

The exhibition Tivoli: Variations on a Landscape in the 18th Century focuses on just that.  The paintings and drawings collected for the show illustrate how landscape changed over the years 1720-1830.

The exhibition will feature over fifty works created during the 18th century, the artists are varied and some you may know: Boucher, Piranesi, &c. Each artist viewed the same landscape and tried to capture it on canvas or paper.  Each result is different, and as you view the exhibition you can see the changes applied by the artists, the shifts in their views, and you may begin to see what drew them there in the first place!

The exhibition is being held at the Musée Cognacq-Jay, one of my favorite Parisian museums, from 18 November 2010 through 20 February 2011

If you cannot make it there is a catalog with full color illustrations and accompanying information on the show.
Some sites say the catalog is being released this December, but you can grab it now at Amazon.fr or artbooks.com  I will post other places to buy when they appear!  Please let us know if you make it to this show!

December 03, 2010

Marie Antoinette visits the Louvre

 Anonymous, Portrait of Marie Antoinette. Miniature, cloth. Musée du Louvre.

"When she went to the Louvre, on the exhibition of the pictures, she would run hastily over all the little imitative subjects, and come out, as she acknowledged, without having once raised her eyes to the grander compositions."

Campan, Jeanne-Louise-Henriette. 1823. The Private life of Marie Antoinette Queen of France and Navarre.

December 01, 2010

Chateau de Marly and the Ribbon Rule

Hubert Robert, Spring of the Bosquet des Muses at Marly. c. 1775 - 1780, oil on canvas. Château de Versailles

...what is that fellow on the far right doing?? Making a wish? tossing a coin? Perhaps he indulged himself a bit too much the evening before? 

The Château de Marly was one of the homes often visited by the court of Louis XV.  The country home was splendid to say the least, a favorite destination and escape for Louis XIV. He had trees planted and water fountains installed in the gardens to his taste.  When in residence, all visitors wore formal court dress and later, Louis XV had created a style slightly different from that worn at Versailles known as the habit de cour de Marly

The home was infamous for the large parties thrown there, and very late nights of games.  The Queen's card room was a magnificent octagonal room, perfect for gaming tables.  Marie Antoinette was known to hold a game or two here, and with such high stakes being played it was not uncommon for players to try and cheat. 

In an attempt to thwart cheating at her tables, Marie Antoinette placed a ribbon rule on her table.  Cheating players would often claim money they had in front of them had been placed for bet, if the cards happened in their favor.  To stop these cheating players from making such claims during the game, she had a ribbon tied around the table.  The only money that would count as a bet was that which was placed far inside this ribbon.  If the money sat outside the ribbon in front of a player it was not considered in game!