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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry March

March, from the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Ah, March! Spring is almost here. Since many have expressed interest in the series of the months in the Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, we will follow these gorgeous images through the year. Here the artist shows us peasants at work after the long hiatus of winter. The snows have melted, the […]

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Zurbaran Still life

Treasures from the Norton Simon travel to New York

The Norton Simon is one of my favorite museums in Los Angeles, or for that matter anywhere in the world. Beautiful architecture, housing collections of European and Asian art. In particular I rank Francisco de Zurbaran’s Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose (below) among the most remarkable paintings I have ever had the […]

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Ash Wednesday Carl Spitzweg

Ash Wednesday, Mercredi des Cendres

Ash Wednesday follows Fat Tuesday, and the mood could not be more different. Today, a day of fast and prayer, marks the beginning of Lent. The day of ashes on foreheads, and the admonition Memento, homo, quod pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris (“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”) No […]

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Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry February

A long winter, or February, from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Here in Paris, the weather forecast for the week is snow, sleet, and some more snow. This feels like a long, long winter. So it is only natural that one of my favorite snow scenes, the representation of February in the Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, came to mind. First, a word […]

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Madame Elisabeth as Earth

Mesdames Elisabeth, Henriette, Adélaïde and Victoire as the four elements

Now that we have become more familiar with the elder daughters of Louis XV and Marie Leszczynska, we can better appreciate this beautiful series by Nattier. It is typical of the artist’s allegorical portraits. First we have Madame Elisabeth, Duchess de Parma as Earth. A woman of power. Then her twin, Madame Henriette, as Fire. […]

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Eugenie and her ladies 1855 Winterhalter

Empire of the crinolines

The Empire in question is the Second Empire, the reign (1852-1870) of Napoléon III and Eugénie. This exhibition at the Palais Galliéra, the City of Paris’s fashion museum, gives us a glimpse at a brilliant, vital, corrupt, prosperous, and ultimately disastrous era of French history. As noted in a prior post, Eugénie admired and wished […]

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Eugenie Holding Louis Napoleon Winterhalter

Marie-Antoinette and Eugénie: the Queen and the Empress

Empress Eugénie felt a deep connection between her own destiny and that of Marie-Antoinette. Eugénie’ father was a Spanish grandee. Her maternal ancestry was less aristocratic: her maternal grandfather was a Scottish wine merchant who had settled in Malaga, in Southern Spain. Her mother, the Countess de Montijo, traveled to France and England after her […]

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Madame du Barry, by Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

Madame du Barry, née Jeanne Bécu, the last mistress of Louis XV and a former courtesan, was guillotined on December 8, 1793. Here she is, painted by Madame Vigée-Lebrun, who also recorded her impressions of the model in her Memoirs: It was in 1786 that I went for the first time to Louveciennes, where I […]

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St Nicholas Gentile da Fabriano

Saint Nicholas, the true Santa Claus

The familiar images of Santa Claus or Père Noël have obscured the historical Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, whose feast day is celebrated on December 6 (December 19 in the Eastern Orthodox calendar) in the early days of this Advent season. Born in 270 into a wealthy Greek family, Nicholas lived in Lycia, a region of […]

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Volupte du Gout Voluptuous Taste

French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour

While browsing the shelves of my favorite bookstore, I was so smitten by this book, titled La volupté du goût (“Voluptuous Taste”) by Philippe Le Leyzour and Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, that I purchased it on impulse, something I almost never do. It explores the role played by Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s most influential mistress and […]

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