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Archive for the ‘people’ Category

Aubrey Beardsley was so extravagantly foppish, so precious in his speech and so languid in his posturings that Oscar Wilde claimed him for his own invention

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (August 21, 1872 – March 16, 1898) was an influential English illustrator, and author. Beardsley was born in Brighton. In 1883 his family settled in London, and in the following year he appeared in public as an “infant musical phenomenon,” playing at several concerts with his sister. He attended Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School in 1884, and in 1888 he obtained a post in an architect’s office, and afterwards one in the Guardian Life and Fire Insurance Company. In 1891, under the advice of Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, he took up art as a profession. In 1892 he attended the classes at the Westminster School of Art,

He was aligned with the Yellow Book coterie of artists and writers. He was an art editor for the first four editions and produced many illustrations for the magazine. He was also closely aligned with Aestheticism, the British counterpart of Decadence and Symbolism.

Aubrey Beardsley was the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era, renowned for his dark and perverse images and the grotesque erotica, which were the main themes of his later work.

(From here)

A gallery of his work

A sad story about his final days.

His writings and drawings in a book, free to read online

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I wanted to write this out but fashion-era’s site is very comprehensible. So here are three links which will show you how hair was worn during the nineteenth century!

1800-1840

1840-1870

1870-1899

A site with many articles on everything hat-related:

Victorian Hats

“Wearing every article of the same colour is fashionable only on condition the strictest uniformity of tone is maintained. “There is nothing more distressing than seeing a dress of deep blue, inclining to purple, with a bonnet with sky-blue ribbons.”

Beauty advice from a 1863 Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.

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Unrelated: Catherine Sherman posted a review on a book which seems very interesting: Kate Summerscale’s “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.” you can read the review here. The book is a detective novel, set in 1860. It’s definitely on my to-read list! (On Amazon)

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Many people with an interest in 19th century literature will have read some Oscar Wilde (or at least seen a movie adaption), but have you read the fairytales? Wilde’s fairytale are unlike most fairytales. They feature beautiful boys, and very sad endings.

During the 18th century, rational and Enlightened thinking was valued, and folk legends and fairytales were not popular at all. However in 1823, with the publication of Edgar Taylor’s translation of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, (translated as German Popular Stories ), fairy tales became, almost overnight, a respectable study for antiquarians, an inspiration for poets, and a permissible source of wonder for the young (from csulb.net)

Wilde wrote subversively to undermine stereotypical Victorian values. “He clearly wanted to subvert the messages conveyed by [Hans] Andersen’s tales, but more important his poetical style recalled the rhythms and language of the Bible in order to counter the stringent Christian code” (from csulb.net)

A (bit lengthy) essay on the fairytales and how Wilde’s psyche can be known through them

Read some stories online

My favourite part, which shows the unexpected edge to the fairytales, is from “The Star-Child:”

And they fell on his neck and kissed him, and brought him into the palace and clothed him in fair raiment, and set the crown upon his head, and the sceptre in his hand, and over the city that stood by the river he ruled, and was its lord. Much justice and mercy did he show to all, […] taught love and loving-kindness and charity, and to the poor he gave bread, and to the naked he gave raiment, and there was peace and plenty in the land.
Yet ruled he not long, so great had been his suffering, and so bitter the fire of his testing, for after the space of three years he died. And he who came after him ruled evilly.

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More or less related, if you are interested in reading, books, and studying online and connecting with other bibliophiles, check out this great site which has links to pretty much anything book-related:
100 Places to connect with bibliophiles online

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Something I found on the Decayed Lace blog, which features some interesting writing and trivia:

[D]ear reader, let me kindly introduce you to the wonders of the so-called ANTIMACASSAR.
In order to fully grasp what’s to be understood by the concept of an antimacassar, one has to undertake a voyage back into the 19th Century- a voyage into the curious world of Victorian fashion and cosmetics, to be accurate!
As the devoted connoisseur of Yesteryear knows, it was the style in these days for a Gentleman to wear his hair in a carefully clipped coiffure [often in combination with sideburns, which were a token fashion item of the era] that was combed back rigorously and, in order to make it appear sleek and glossy, trickled with macassar oil. Thus, one could say macassar oil was the precursor of brillantine, which reached the height of its popularity during the rambunctious days of the Jazz Age. Today, the prospect of oily hair might appear to us as an outlandish fad, but back in the dear Golden Age gentlemen sporting an elaborately brillantined haircut were the pinnacle of elegance!
To the mistress of the Victorian household however, the lubricious
headdress usually was a mere nuisance- grease spots all over the backrest of your sofa! Therefore, the canny Lady would pin pretty white doilies on the spot of the furniture where the Gentleman’s head would be. These doilies -as you might have guessed by now, dear reader- were called antimacassar, pragmatically named after the principal purpose they had to serve.
[Considering the fact that Victorian Gentlemen also used other, rather revolting substances like beef suet or bear’s grease to control their hair, macassar oil might not have been that bad after all.]

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Demimonde was a polite 19th century term that was often used the same way we use the term “mistress” today. In the 19th century it primarily referred to a class of women on the fringes of respectable society supported by wealthy lovers (usually each had several). The term is also used to refer to these women as a group, and the social circles they moved in. As a group, the demimonde did not form a ‘society’ any more than modern prostitutes form a society. But they did represent a social class of women in the latter half of the 19th century and into the early 20th century who were commonplace fixtures in the upper class of French, English and, to some extent, American society. In the United States and Britain, they were (and still are) also often referred to as courtesans, though that term in the 19th century applied to a profession (as the term “prostitute” describes a profession), whereas Demimonde/Demimondaine was used to describe a broader social class. The term is French, and means literally “half-world”, implying those women existed on the fringes of the “real world.” It derives from a comedy by Alexandre Dumas fils published in 1855 called Le Demi-Monde.

Descriptions of the demimonde can be found in Vanity Fair, a novel which satirizes 19th century society written by William Makepeace Thackeray. Although it does not mention the terms ‘demimonde’ and ‘demimondaine’ (they were coined later), the terms were later used by reviewers and other authors in reference to three characters in it.

Source: Wikipedia

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Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914), a Danish-American journalist, photographer, and social reformer, was born in Ribe, Denmark. He is known for his dedication to using his photographic and journalistic talents to help the less fortunate in New York City*, which was the subject of most of his prolific writings and photographic essays. As one of the first photographers to use flash, he is considered a pioneer in photography. [Source: Wikipedia.]

*The general consensus outside America seems to be that, while he partially wanted to help the less fortunate, quite a lot of his actions came from voyeurism and gaining a sense of control over the poor neighborhoods by taking pictures (a form of surveying.) It is generally known that he went to the neighborhoods at night, while the people were sleeping, and then fired his flash (hence all the sleeping people in pictures.) At the start of the 20th century, photography flash wasn’t as advanced as it was now, so there was quite an explosion. However, he did take some great photographs:


Wikipedia article on Riis
The full text of his main work, “How the Other Half Lives.”
Riis article from the Harvard site
Photographs.

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Thorvaldsen was born in Copenhagen in 1770 (according to some accounts, in 1768), the son of an Icelander who had settled in Denmark and there carried on the trade of a wood-carver. This account is disputed by some Icelanders, who claim Thorvaldsen was born in Iceland.

Young Thorvaldsen attended Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi), winning all the prizes including the large Gold Medal. As a consequence, he was granted a Royal stipend, enabling him to complete his studies in Rome, where he arrived on March 8, 1797. Since the date of his birth had never been recorded, he celebrated this day as his “Roman birthday” for the rest of his life.

Thorvaldsen’s first success was the model for a statue of Jason, which was highly praised by Antonio Canova, the most popular sculptor in the city. He had worked on this statue for 25 years. In 1803 he received the commission to execute it in marble from Thomas Hope, a wealthy English art-patron. From that time Thorvaldsen’s success was assured, and he did not leave Italy for sixteen years.

In 1819 he visited his native Denmark. Here he was commissioned to make the colossal series of statues of Christ and the twelve Apostles for the rebuilding of Vor Frue Kirke (from 1922 known as the Copenhagen Cathedral) between 1817 and 1829, after its having been destroyed in the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807. These were executed after his return to Rome, and were not completed till 1838, when Thorvaldsen returned to Denmark, being received as a hero.

He died suddenly in the Copenhagen Royal Theatre on March 24, 1844, and bequeathed a great part of his fortune for the building and endowment of a museum in Copenhagen, and also left to fill it all his collection of works of art and the models for all his sculptures very large collection, exhibited to the greatest possible advantage. Thorvaldsen is buried in the courtyard of this museum, under a bed of roses, by his own special wish.
(Source: Wikipedia)

The Thorvaldsen museum was started in 1839 and was designed by Danish architect H.G. Bindesbøll. Except for the regular collection, there are various exhibitions of new and young artists. Helping new talent was one of the last wishes of Thosvaldsen. Apart from Thorvaldsens work, there are also various paintings from his own collection, mostly from Danish and Norwegian painters whom he met in Rome.
Website: http://www.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk

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