October 22, 2012
Ashamed as I am by the blatant imperfections of this most recent drawing of mine I couldn’t help submitting it here, in the end, all praying the critique will ensue mildly. With studies demanding most of my otherwise highly distributive attention and the perpetual pursuit of one of those whimsical goals (reading over 100 books until the New Year’s Eve) consuming the rest of my remaining time no wonder the above composition is rather hastily made and clearly wronged in several places. Nevertheless, I hope it brings the sense of tension which first fascinated me upon embarking the little project. Shadows are not enough emphasized and one buttock needs urgent repairing but I fancy it decently reassembles Bouguereau‘s men from ‘Dante And Virgil In Hell’. It’s a mere imitation, though; the original’s far more dramatic and infinitely more powerful in its effects on the viewer, there’s no denying that. Yet I seem to helplessly desire molding with my own fingers a character, a movement, a curve, a shade I like gazing. Whenever I recreate one I feel connected to it in a way beyond an observer’s range since, through the process, I come closer to understanding the artist’s vision regarding the work and the many subtleties of the work itself. As a secondary author, my senses indicate, I’m indirectly part of the act of creation which produces the praised masterpiece. But we’re entering tedious territory now.
What do you think about the above charcoal on paper thingy? These two cannibals are sort of alluring, don’t you believe? I remember being intrigued by them when I first saw Bouguereau’s painting at the Orsay Museum… Does it least capture a tint of the original’s appeal?
October 10, 2012
Shallow as it may sound, the ‘beauty comes first’ criteria to which my visual senses respond made me stop at this man’s intriguing story only after dropping an eye on his rather handsome portrait preceding it. One inexorably desires more information about charming characters; it tends to enhance their attractiveness and draw them to spheres of humanity easier to empathize with, still stressing the physical gorgeousness first to catch one’s attention. But I’m missing the point (thing I’m terribly good at).
The lad depicted above, a very flamboyant Italian named Vincenzo Lunardi, makes this very October 225 years since he first flew over Edinburgh in a hydrogen-filled balloon, stunning the curious mob gathered on the grounds of George Heriot’s School to watch the big event which The Scots Magazine later described with appreciatory words:
‘The beauty and grandeur of the spectacle could only be exceeded by the cool, intrepid manner in which the adventurer conducted himself; and indeed he seemed infinitely more at ease than the greater part of his spectators.’
A day to remember, really.
But the charismatic Vincezo had orchestrated numerous such occasions to leave his contemporaries in utter awe long before that October 1785 and could, at the mere age of 26, boast with the several aeronautic adventures alongside the famous James Tytler, whom he had met around the 1780’s during a diplomatic voyage. Because yes, the courageous Lunardi started up as a minor Neapolitan nobleman engaged in diplomatic missions to France and, elected Secretary to Prince Caramanico (a well respected Ambassador), to England. Let us not forget envoys in the Revolutionary epoch were people characterized by the most acute sense of action, having traveled enough to discover different habits and mentalities. Not to mention their varied education. In all sort of ways.
In London, Lunardi’s appetite for fame and the dandy allure so appealing to the English public facilitated his ascension as a ‘Daredevil Aeronaut’, the first to successfully experience the perilous balloon flight after de Morel’s failure in a time when the conquest of air was a hot topic. The novelty was there, waiting for a valiant one to affirm it, and the world stared impatiently. Easy times to become hero for audacious hearts.
So, eager to conquer a certain prestige, Vincenzo, native showman, immediately planned an ascension with a balloon designed by his partner, George Biggin, over the 200,000 heads of riveted Londoners among whom stood aristocratic figures such as the Prince of Wales. To make thing even more peculiar, Lunardi decided to give a cat, a dog and a pigeon the honor of traveling alongside himself, although with the cat’s airsickness one could contest it was indeed a good idea.
Setting off from the Artillery Ground to a northerly direction towards Hertfordshire, without poor Biggin, he eventually put the balloon to rest in Standon Green End which, to this day, bears the name of ‘Balloon Corner’ to commemorate the historical event.
This first balloon flight in Great Britain turned Lunardi into the hero of the hour, his main desire, and brought him before the ‘Mad King’ George III.
“At his command, a monument was erected on the spot where Lunardi landed for the second time; its popular name is Long Mead, and it is still there. Lunardi went on to build larger and better balloons and ascended once more from Moorfields. On this occasion his balloon was decorated with a huge Union Jack, in which manner he ‘wished to express his respects and devotion to everything which the word ‘British’ stands for’. His faithful friend Biggin and a Mrs Letitia Sage, an actress, were to have accompanied him on this trip, but once more the lifting capacity of the balloon was poor, so Lunardi started alone on 13 May 1785. Soon afterwards he had to come down again, near Tottenham Court Road, because the envelope turned out to be leaking. The well-tried patience of Biggin was finally rewarded later that year when, on 29 June, he was able to ascend himself, accompanied by Mrs Sage.’
”This trip lasted an hour and had the distinction of being the first time ‘a British female air travelers’ had gone aloft. This was the term by which Mrs Sage henceforth liked to be described. She was a beautiful lady, but from a ballooning point of view she unfortunately tipped the scales at 2001b. Lunardi made several more balloon ascents in Great Britain during 1785, but in August 1786 one of his young assistants lost his life in a tragic accident. During the preparations for an ascent at Newcastle upon Tyne, Ralph Heron was pulled aloft as one arm got entangled in the anchor rope when the balloon took off prematurely. The rope broke and the hapless youngster plunged to his death. Lunardi was not to blame, yet, after the incident, everywhere he went in Great Britain he was now persecuted as intensely as he had previously been acclaimed. He left the country for good, but continued his balloon ascents in Italy, Spain and Portugal. His health later failed, and he died in Portugal on 31 July 1806.”
I think him quite a curious human specimen. And Sir Laurence Olivier thought him so too when playing Lunardi in the 1936 film ‘Conquest of the Air’.
Any other opinions?
October 6, 2012
Blogging’s not quite the most rewarding thing one could do in one’s own free time since, ok, your posts get easier to a varied international audience and their writing could be done from virtually everywhere, but the feedback’s not always sufficient for infusing a true sense of either motivation or inner satisfaction to the working-bee. I often find myself relinquishing a new subject with thoughts of uselessness preventing me from blogging it here, mainly because I’m not sure it would really interest someone (secondly because I’m congenitally lazy although we’ll not talk about it). Now, whether it’s good or just a shameful insecure act I can’t decide.
That’s where blogging awards intervene and I’m flattered to have been nominated for the “Liebster Lauds”, a nice occasion to designate your favorite fellow bloggers and the sites which usually draw your attention in a solidary attempt to contribute to their development.
Thank you, Liz, the keen owner of the Pragmatic Costumer (a chronicle of period garbs and adornments most vivid and complex you’ll definitely fall in love with) for considering my blog entertaining enough to nominate.
We should have a toast: may we grow and evolve with our work, bla bla, and have some damn great fun!
And, to get over with formalizations: the Liebster Laws…
3. Nominate 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
So, my choice of cracking 5 blogs:
Keep up the good blogging!