The Art Clique

April 26, 2013

sylph2.jpg

Behold my novel blog I finally managed to give shape after the toil of settling on a particular design & color theme! It’s called the Art Clique and is predestined to live up to the expectations ensuing the reading of  its title with numerous accounts of art (from visual to more abstract: literature) between which spring some shameless propagandistic posts to (let’s unleash optimism) financially support my incurable penchant for luxury.

There might not be a plethora of articles just yet given my industrious-bee work in real life, the recurrent spring depression I’m preoccupied to combat and some extra diverting factors but, since the two currently available explore topics one might find of interest, you can pass by confidently, produce highly appreciated feedback and ultimately do charity work that God (or Allah, Jehovah, Brahman et cetera) will indubitably quantify in your right of admission to Paradise…

ART: JUST ONE CLIQUE AWAY

leo

  Between the myriad other occupations Leonardo was engaged in across his lengthy life, one of the lesser known (albeit as valuable as the “Annunciation”) are his absolutely riveting fables about an extensive range of subjects cunningly related. Being the epitome of the Renaissance man, it was merely natural for a genius painter, sculptor, architect, musician, inventor, mathematician et cetera to skilfully master the ancient art of fabricating moral stories that could effortlessly equal Aesop’s, whose work had barely been rediscovered and fairly accredited only decades before.

I was familiar with da Vinci’s literary products from a tender age thanks to a book of his I stumbled upon in the family library at age about 9. Then and now, one of my all time favorites from the polymath is a peculiar anecdote mockingly describing why Muhammad prohibited alcoholic drinks:

The Wine and Muhammad

Wine, the holy liquor of the grape, once rested in a gilded cup on Muhammad’s table, honor of which he was extremely proud. But an adverse thought troubled him instantly:

What am I doing? Why am I feeling so overjoyed? Is it that I fail to realize my death is approaching and soon I’ll have to leave this golden sanctuary for the abominable, fetid caves of the human body? Do I not anticipate the dreary moment when my perfumed liquid will turn into disgusting urine?’

The Wine cried out for the gods to hear, beseeching revenge for such unjust a faith and implored the Providence to put an end to so much humiliation. He asked that, since in his country grew the juiciest grapes, least these be spared the shame he was experiencing.

Then almighty Jupiter made the Wine Muhammad drank get to his head and influence his judgment so as to lose his mind. Thus the prophet committed a number of mistakes that grave that when he finally came to his senses, he banned all sorts of alcohol.

Hence the vineyards were abandoned with their fruits intact.

Terse and witty as one would expect of Leonardo but still quite hilarious in context, don’t you think?

Hardly a few years passed since the Moors lost their last Spanish stronghold in Granada to the Catholic Kings and the Europeans began mocking them persistently!

Perhaps because I have sadistic velleities or just an eccentric appetite for slightly scandalous deeds which delight me to such extent that I quite managed to become addicted, whenever I’m in need of spicy historical records I turn to Italy, whose patrimony of mischievous figures, rich criminals and lascivious damsels never ceases to quench my thirst. I don’t know if it has anything to do with living in the Boot and having mainly depraved popes, but they definitely put mediatized characters like bloody Elizabeth Bathory to shame.  Think Lucrezia Borgia– she could do more than kill helpless maidens and bathe in their blood to gain eternal youth (Naomi Campbell seems to have repeatedly attempted to test it unsuccessfully -boo, humdrum human rights disapprove-  which means it isn’t so astounding).

a

Italians, on the other hand, have a certain something, a natural flair seasoned with one ravishing vice inherited as specific trait from their fiery ancestors, the Borgias, Orsinis, Medicis, Sforza and so on, unlike the French who were rather subverted by vanity, a particular section of generally named “vice” Italy’s inhabitants had (though I assume they still have) galore.  It’s suffice to say this enchants me (it does).

Returning to the main topic, to satisfy my perpetual desideratum for anecdotes I frequently resort to evidences from Rome, Florence or Napoli, the main gathering nests of the wealthy and infamous. Yesterday, to enlarge my research area, I was reading Staley’s “Lords and Ladies of the Italian Lakes”, a highly vibrant  compilation of rumors and stories set in the vividly painted Lombardy Lakeland  (rival to England’s similarly called region) and just stumbled across a single-paragraph biography of Adeliza de Borgomanero. Profession: part-time murderess, nothing unusual, in fact, for the gloomy Middle Ages, but still juicy and only good to savor today.

Adeliza de Borgomanero’s half-legend, pretty sad in the end, follows an interesting row of events and rumors embroidered around her numerous intriguing habits, culminating in her premature death.

Portrait of a woman, c.1400

She was born circa 1350 in a family of minor nobles, enough to secure her the proper background for marrying a local count from  Val d’Ossola region, elder and boorish, I assume, yet without documented evidence. We can scarcely imagine how the wedding might have been due to the complete lack of reports, but let me tell you it was ensued by a hearty feast and inexorably grand if we judge by the period’s traditions.

At any rate, Adeliza, the sinful child, couldn’t refrain her congenital iniquity and did a thing or two (again, unaccounted by history) apparently inappropriate because old, tedious hubby exiled the young girl to a remote Bellagio castle, situated in the vicinity of Lake Como (which will be a faithful accomplice to her atrocities).

Wrong move if he had any intention of rehabilitating his wife since it barely exonerated Adeliza, point from where she, officially discharged of marital duties, began to knock together her own personal court. For a graceful lady, with a small fortune (money speak, after all) at her complete disposition, I bet it wasn’t such a laborious job.

Lovers were definitely not missing from the jolly assembly and, as she gave the impression of having a weakness for both tall, muscular men or more romantic, effeminate boys  (exclusively gallant ones), soldiers and troubadours surrounded her castle. With them began the actual gossip about her disputable morals.

Countess Adeliza was said, inspired by Quenn Giovanna II of Napoli (who had promiscuous affairs with much younger men she then compelled to take their lives, threw over the balcony in the sea, assassinate, etc) to have demanded her paramours to commit suicide post the consumption of their sexual revels. The brave fools who refused obeying her desire were not much luckier: a servant was charged with dropping them through steel racked oubliettes in the lake below (remember I mentioned Como Lake’s implication in the murders) and none survived.

Queen Giovanna II of Napoli

 Either way, let’s remark she was a delicate lady who didn’t like to dirty her hands so those crimes were  more probably made to prove her authority, her sovereignity  over men (the thing women wand most, by Adeliza’s contemporary, Geoffrey Chaucer) and less to satisfy a devilish thirst of blood.

But she became a vampire-siren figure in the popular lore nonetheless, living in a metaphorical (or not?) charnel house.

More original than slaughtering your servants, right?

Adeliza passed away inexplicably at only 20 years of age, in 1370, leaving practically nothing historians can list apart from the legends.  And what beautiful legends.

The pas week has been a hectic ping-pong with several events I had to squeeze in my program and diligently prepare, though I cannot complain for taking part in any of them since they are direct fruits of either my work or my resolute desires across the last few years.

I’ve been invited to make a visit to the town residence of the Royal House of Romania and been (briefly) received by Princess Marguerite, I’ve had to pull through an essay meant to be my entry for quite a promising contest then finish the editing of my novel novella (“Vicious“) to be able to publish it in time and handled its launch concomitantly with that of my author blog. This, plus a couple of other troubles.

No wonder the “Parties of the Past Century” series has yet to be completed.

However, here’s the next roaring social gathering which brought together most of the era’s elite:

Le Bal du Siecle

Ball of the Century

The Mexican multimillionaire Charles Beistegui, a professed eccentric also known as the modern “Count of Monte Cristo”, was the host to the most lavish, flamboyant and altogether magnificent masked ball ever given in honor of the old aristocratic times. His Venice Palazzo Labia, a splendid 17th century residence, was put to its use glamorously and costly decorated to fit the magnitude of the event Charles promised to be the assembly of the century.

bal

Luxurious rococo gowns of rich materials were displayed with a profusion of jewels and thus the elegantly adorned guests could only be distinguished from the likewise decor by the mere barrier of movement. Famed names such as Orson Welles, the Aga Khan, Barbara Hutton, Dali, Gene Tierny or Jacqueline de Ribes relished the extraordinary parade of refinement, the presence of exotic black people with their peculiar animals (camels included), the amazing atmosphere.

It was an evening of perpetual wonder, the sort wars exclusively can impel one to organize just for the most humane need of forgetting one’s misery.

Inspiring Blogger

Pheme has been, as luck would have it, quite a golden companion of mine the pas few weeks: I was told how “lovely” Madame looks through the Liebster Lauds and have been awarded a prize for her beguiling versatility… only to enhance the row of esteems bottom right with an extra nomination for the “Very Inspiring Blogger” that Liz back at “The Pragmatic Costumer” found fit to bestow upon yours truly. Somewhere in the higher spheres a providential creature has mysteriously decided on helping me… no reason in sight.

But returning to things rather more mundane, the award’s canonic laws:

 Thou shall display the award and link back to the person who nominated you.
Thou shall state 7 facts about yourself.
Thou shall nominate 15 bloggers for the award (in other words, be a philanthropist).
Thou shall notify the winners.

My random 7

1. I’m not far from being a sociopath.

2. The sole literary/ historical character I’ve actually managed to fall in love with is Homer’s Achilles (and yes, prior to Brad Pitt).

3. I’m both a gourmand and a gourmet… currently on diet for a Charlize Theron (or Sissi) figure.

4. If Hannibal Lecter were a real-life character I’d definitely be his disciple… for the sake of psychology.

5. By far the best movie seen this current month was “Carnage”.

6. My e-book “Vicious” is going to be launched next week.

7. Also, on Wednesday, I’m scheduled to pay a visit to a certain royal whose identity I’ll divulge in a future blog-post.

My 15 meritorious nominees

1. Tiaras and Trianon

2. Uncovering the Faces of History

3. Saints, Sisters and Sluts

4.Edwardian Promenade

5.Cafe Royal

6.Team Gloria

7.WTF Art History

8.Education of Madame X

9.Les Favorites Royale

10.Empress Chronicles

11.Knotty Puppet

12.The Freelance History Writer

13. Hankering for History

14.French Painters

15. the Mind is a Metaphor

Hail quality blogging!

Versatile Blogger Award

Back when Madame was a mere beginner in blogging, “Versatile” and the “Kreativ Blogger” distinction were the first she’d ever aspired to. Surely, along the way, the debonair lady of this site acquired a few others she hadn’t previously heard of, like the “Liebster Lauds“, “Lovely Blog” or “Blog of the Year 2012” (forgive the exceeding repetition of the word “blog” which apparently all awards contain…) but never ceased to hope she’ll one day seize those honors initially desired.

Ironically, it is a namesake of mine that bestowed upon Madame the coveted laurels: Patricia Jordan (http://westcoastlivingcanada.com/) , passionate photographer, writer and traveler whom I thank for the esteem.

And now, having passed through the introductions to more pragmatic matters, the VBA rules:

  1.  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  2.  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy.
  3.  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  4.  Include a link to the mother-site: Versatile Blogger.
  5.  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Nominations

(in a perfectly random manner as not the divulge any preference) 

  1. Tiaras and Trianon
  2. the Pragmatic Costumer
  3. Empress Chronicles
  4. Life Takes Lemons
  5.  Saints, Sisters and Sluts
  6. Team Gloria
  7.  Splatter
  8. Sifting the Past
  9.  Good Gentlewomen
  10.  Versailles Gossip
  11. Cafe Royal
  12. Education of Madame X
  13. Les Favorites Royale
  14. Edwardian Promenade
  15. WTF Art History

7 Things about Myself

  1. I’m the proud master of a miniature Schnauzer imaginatively called Nyx after the Greek goddess of night… because she’s black.
  2. I’m a decided bibliophile who also owns 3 over 100 years-old books… and works to increase the number.
  3. I’ve never genuinely been in love with anything but art… and myself. Save some cursory infatuations.
  4. My personal verb is “to be“.
  5. I’m an INTJ of a psychological profile similar to Hannibal Lecter’s.
  6. I’m a dedicated admirer of all novels Salman Rushdie.
  7. I’m decisively myself… since everybody else is already taken.

FIN

One could never guess what genuinely amusing event devoid of any anticipation turned Wagner’s  Tannhäuser  première in a complete fiasco. It is the prerogative of the haughty19th century Parisian aristocracy to surprise both poor Richard, the contemporary and modern auditory with a reaction that changed the faith of an opera now considered one of Wagner’s best.

Facts are comically of an elementary character.

On this very day, 13 March 1861, the Salle Le Peletier was meant to host the first representation of Tannhäuser in France after exhausting months spent with a consuming number of over 160 thorough  rehearsals  which Wagner never failed to attend given that he was exceedingly keen to impress the public. A public composed from such characters as Emperor Napoleon III and Pauline von Metternich one cannot simply afford to disappoint.

And with the dozens of preparations undertaken, it shouldn’t have been the case . In fact, everything was arranged  for Wagner to repute a success.

But what actually happened?

Here’s the account almighty Wikipedia gives:

Wagner had originally hoped the Parisian première would take place at the Théâtre Lyrique. However, the première was at the Paris Opéra, so the composer had to insert a ballet into the score, according to the traditions of the house. Wagner agreed to this condition since he believed that a success at the Opéra represented his most significant opportunity to re-establish himself following his exile from Germany. Yet rather than put the ballet in its usual place in Act II, he chose to place it in Act I, where it could at least make some dramatic sense by representing the sensual world of Venus’s realm.

This midget alteration of the custom gave way to a veritable disaster.

There was a serious planned assault on the opera’s reception by members of the wealthy and aristocratic Jockey Club. Their habit was to arrive at the Opéra only in time for the Act II ballet, after previously dining, and, as often as not, to leave when the ballet was over. They objected to the ballet coming in Act I, since this meant they would have to be present from the beginning of the opera. Furthermore, they disliked Princess von Metternich, who had arranged the performance, and her native country of Austria.’ [any recall of the French revolution, anybody? any analogy to the way they treated Marie Antoinette? or perhaps your mind  goes back to the Vienna Congress in 1815?]

Club members led barracking from the audience with whistles and cat-calls. At the third performance on 24 March, this uproar caused several interruptions of up to fifteen minutes at a time. As a consequence, Wagner withdrew the opera after the third performance.This marked the end to Wagner’s hopes of establishing himself in Paris, at that time the center of the operatic world.

In a nutshell, this is the story of how a genius was ruined by frivolous manners.

Le Bal Black & White

1966: Truman Capote, prodigious writer much celebrated on his mother-continent,  throws a party that instantly has him conquer the lavish high society worldwide, a ball whose promise of superlatives makes invitations paramount concerns of elites across both America and Europe (no wonder he gathered 5 thousand friends but gained 15 thousand enemies when anyone known as someone vied for a possibility to attend).

The New York Plaza Hotel, meticulously decorated, reaches its zenith.

After a period of seclusion dedicated to laborious preparations, Capote returns with repetitive “I’m beside myself! Beside myself!” to take it over and welcome the masqued guests nevertheless recognized by the photographs galore who fenced in the red carpet.

party

Glittering names as those of Frank Sinatra, Cecil Beaton, Mia Farrow, Jacqueline de Ribes, Oscar de la Renta, Marlene Dietrich, Maharajah and Maharani of Jaipur,  Vivien Leigh, Shirley MacLaine,Baroness Cecile de Rothschild, Baron and Baroness Guy de Rothschild, Mr and Mrs John Steinbeck, Andy Warhol, Tennessee Williams and even the expatriated Duke and Duchess of Windsor figured on the privileged guest list. It was indeed the egocentric celebration of a silver age, a kaleidoscope of savory juxtapositions of class, titles, secular manners and social status to garrison the last remnants of decadence.

Half the Hall of Fame and Best Dressed list attended Capote’s hubristic feast in the most mesmerizing costumes possible (note: I’m far from resorting to hyperbole for that depiction)…

If in Truman’s shoes, is there anyone you would’ve coveted to see there but was not, caught in various circumstances, able to come?

Why art is quite useless

February 23, 2013

Oscar Wilde closed the 1891 preface to  the “Picture of Dorian Grey” with a most enigmatic epigram: “All art is quite useless.” All the Greek symbols of aesthetic majesty, all the Renaissance masterpieces that come to our days, the scraps of melodic perfection in Mozart, the lines of utter harmony in Shakespeare, his own fascinating aphorisms inclusively: they hold no function.

Upon learning this, it’s merely normal to exert your curiosity and, as Bernulf Clegg did back then, demand some competent explanations.

Dear Wilde never fudged responding to such enquiries with the sort of handwritten letters like the below shown.

wilde

Transcript:

16, TITE STREET,
CHELSEA. S.W.

My dear Sir

Art is useless because its aim is simply to create a mood. It is not meant to instruct, or to influence action in any way. It is superbly sterile, and the note of its pleasure is sterility. If the contemplation of a work of art is followed by activity of any kind, the work is either of a very second-rate order, or the spectator has failed to realize the complete artistic impression.

A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse. All this is I fear very obscure. But the subject is a long one.

Truly yours,

Oscar Wilde

Has it clarified the concept? Do you adhere to his belief?

I myself find the word “useless” still too powerful to limit genuine art…

Liebster Lauds again my way!

February 23, 2013

liebster

“Liebster Lauds” was the first token of appreciation I’ve received for blogging about my serendipitous meetings with historical characters and now, a mere half a year later but ages apart psychologically, the same award came to Madame de Pique‘s address, this time from the sapient Aubrey over at her dear, dear web log, the Cafe Royal. So, as it’s only civil of me to reply to the honor she bestowed yours truly: many thanks, chérie!

I’m eternally eager to compile manifestations of renown.

Well, jumping in another train of thoughts, having already experienced a Liebster protocol, I find it funny to compare how the rules vary for convergent sources. It practically illustrates internet’s prolific power to produce circumstances favorable to versatility. Last time, a nominee had to propose 5 further nominees, as opposed to the 11 presently required: just an example.

Yet let us not stray from the topic and reproduce the current formula:

  • Mind your manners and give thanks.
  • Tell 11 things about yourself – subheadings,  charts, etc. are not necessary.  If  you like bunnies, for Christ’s sake just say so.
  • Answer to the best of your ability the 11  questions that are asked of you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers for this award – let them know too, surely, since keeping it to yourself would be mean.
  • Ask the above nominees 11 questions of your  own if you like, but remember you can also dispose of the questions you were asked.

Due to an acute infusion of laziness exhausting months of intellectual labor made inevitable, I’ll resort to images for the second task, the supposedly 11 personal details I think I even exceeded in preparing the following:

me

But Aubrey’s inquiry is not to be resolved as hastily:

Aubrey: Why did you start blogging?

 Madame: Mainly to exercise my writing skills, although it eventually turned to be an activity of multiple aims and uncountable gains.

A:  Do you find that you usually prefer the book or movie version?

M: For Madame, there’s ever one formula: movie version for mediocre books; they make it less a waste of time.

A: Are you wearing jewelry now?  Bonus points if a parure is involved.

M: Why, of course there’s a parure to enhance the natural pulchritude I lack! Jade rings, pendant and earrings, all embedded in silver, to be explicit.

A: Name five places you would never want to visit again.

M: Turkish public toilets, Bulgarian highways (despite not being a place per se), Romanian beaches, uhm… and that’s about every horrid thing I can momentarily recall. Excusez-moi.

A: Ocean or lake?

M: Ocean for a holiday view and mountain-top lake to live near. It has to do with my obsession of owning a small body of water.

A: What is the first book you couldn’t live without?

M: Virginia Woolf’s Orlando… but then came Wilde’s Dorian Grey

A: Are you one of those bloggers that believe that people resemble their icons?  Do you, for instance, think that I am wearing a periwig and holding a star?

M: Why, categorically! And allow me to compliment how gorgeous you look wearing that raven peruke!

A: If you were alive in 1902 would you be tempted to ride in one of those new car-things or would you prefer to continue driving your four-in-hand?

M: Given I’m pretty enamored with the original Rolls Royce Silver Ghost and would rather ride than travel by uncomfortable carriages… the reply can be easily inferred.

A: Which actor has provided you with your favorite rendition of Sherlock Holmes?

M: With the risk of sounding exceedingly typical, I must forward “Robert Downey Jr.” as my final answer.

A: You’re getting dressed for work.  You open your closet and find your clothes are not from this decade.  Are you happy about this?  What decade do you hope is represented?

M: Well, I’d love to be evocative of the belle epoque, but in a modern manner nonetheless, especially since I’m unable to go back and live it as it was.

A: Have you ever mixed a cocktail – for either yourself or others?  And if you have, can you mix a tall Bloody Mary – now?  All this writing and thinking has made Aubrey thirsty.

M: Madame doesn’t concern with alcohol unless it’s whiskey foam implied, sorry to disappoint. I could try ordering some absinth to quench that thirst, though.

screen

AND now, to conclude spreading the favor I was awarded in the spirit of fair-play blogging, behold my eleven nominees, randomly ordered:

1. Tiaras and Trianon

2. the Pragmatic Costumer

3.Empress Chronicles

4. Life Takes Lemons

5. Saints, Sisters and Sluts

6. Team Gloria

7. Splatter

8. Sifting the Past

9. Good Gentlewomen

10. Versailles Gossip

11.Patricia Beykrat (I know, condemn me for the olympian narcissism that goes with nominating my alter ego, yet you must understand I’m able to resist everything but temptation!)

FIN

 

 

 

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