From the Remaining Chord

Hope, George Frederic Watts, 1886

 

Hope is a Symbolist oil painting by George Frederic Watts, two versions of which were completed in 1886. The painting was intended to form part of a series of allegorical paintings by Watts entitled the House of Life. The painting shows a female allegorical figure of Hope. Hope is traditionally identifiable through the attribute of an anchor, but Watts took a more original approach. In his painting, she is depicted sitting on a globe, blindfolded, clutching a wooden lyre with only one string left intact. She sits in a hunched position, with her head leaning towards the instrument, perhaps so she can hear the faint music she can make with the sole remaining string. According to Watts, “Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music which can come from the remaining chord”. The desolate atmosphere is emphasised by Watts’s soft brushwork, creating a misty, ethereal scene, in tones of green, brown and grey. Watts’s melancholy depiction of hope was criticised, and G. K. Chesterton suggested that a better title would be Despair.

 

A Sea Spell (1877)

 

Dreamers (1882)

 

The Wheel of Fortune (1871)

 

Watts may have been inspired by the pose of the siren in Dante Gabriel Rossetti‘s  painting A Sea Spell, or the sleeping women in Albert Joseph Moore‘s painting Dreamers. Watts may have taken inspiration for the blindfold from the allegorical figure of Fortune in Edward Burne-Jones‘s  painting The Wheel of Fortune, which Watts owned. The painting was displayed at the 1897 Manchester Jubilee Exhibition, alongside other works by Watts including Love and Death, The Court of Death, Psyche, and Mount Ararat.

Hope inspired a scene from a 1922 film of the same name by Herbert Blaché and Lejaren à Hiller, featuring Mary Astor as Hope. It has been suggested as an influence on Pablo Picasso‘s early Blue Period paintings, especially the hunched musician in The Old Guitarist. Martin Luther King Jr referenced Hope in his sermon Shattered Dreams in his collection of sermons, Strength to Love. Nelson Mandela reportedly had a print of the painting on the wall of his prison cell on Robben Island. After Egypt was defeated by Israel during the Six-Day War the Egyptian government issued copies of it to its troops.

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A Christmas Carol

Audrey Hepburn in Switzerland, Christmas day, 1958

 
 

“In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there.
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part, –
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart

Christina Georgina Rossetti

Where the Story Really Starts

The Man Who Sold the World is the third studio album by David Bowie, originally released on Mercury Records in November 1970 in the US, and in April 1971 in the UK. The album was Bowie’s first with the nucleus of what would become the Spiders from Mars, the backing band made famous by The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972. Though author David Buckley has described Bowie’s previous record David Bowie (Space Oddity) as “the first Bowie album proper”, NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have said of The Man Who Sold the World, “this is where the story really starts”. Departing from the folk music of Bowie’s debut album, The Man Who Sold the World is a hard rock and heavy metal album. It has been claimed that this album’s release marks the birth of glam rock.

The album was written and rehearsed at David Bowie’s home in Haddon Hall, Beckenham, an Edwardian mansion converted to a block of flats that was described by one visitor as having an ambience “like Dracula‘s living room”. As Bowie was preoccupied with his new wife Angie at the time, the music was largely arranged by guitarist Mick Ronson and bassist/producer Tony Visconti. Although Bowie is officially credited as the composer of all music on the album, biographers such as Peter Doggett have marshaled evidence to the contrary, quoting Visconti saying “the songs were written by all four of us. We’d jam in a basement, and Bowie would just say whether he liked them or not.”

Much of the album had a distinct heavy metal edge that distinguishes it from Bowie’s other releases, and has been compared to contemporary acts such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The record also provided some unusual musical detours, such as the title track’s use of Latin rhythms to hold the melody. The sonic heaviness of the album was matched by the subject matter, which included insanity (All the Madmen), gun-toting assassins and Vietnam War commentary (Running Gun Blues), an omniscient computer (Saviour Machine), and Lovecraftian Elder Gods (The Supermen). The song She Shook Me Cold was an explanation of a heterosexual encounter. The album has also been seen as reflecting the influence of such figures as Aleister Crowley, Franz Kafka and Friedrich Nietzsche.

 
 

The original 1970 US release of The Man Who Sold the World employed a cartoon-like cover drawing by Bowie’s friend Michael J. Weller, featuring a cowboy in front of the Cane Hill mental asylum

 
 

 
 

The first UK cover, on which Bowie is seen reclining in a Mr Fish “man’s dress”, was an early indication of his interest in exploiting his androgynous appearance. The dress was designed by British fashion designer Michael Fish, and Bowie also used it in February 1971 on his first promotional tour to the United States, where he wore it during interviews despite the fact that the Americans had no knowledge of the as yet unreleased UK cover. It has been said that his “bleached blond locks, falling below shoulder level”, were inspired by a Pre-Raphaelite painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Romanian Blouse

Queen Marie of Romania

 
 

The main piece of the Romanian national dress is the blouse, the term being only attributed to the blouse worn by women. It is actually a Romanian traditional blouse worn on festive days, which is made of white cloth, cotton, flax or raw silk tissue, adorned with beads and embroideries on the sleeves and the neckline. The technique of adorning this blouse was handed down from mother to daughter, a fact that preserved the tradition and taste from one generation to another. The patterns are stylized, geometrical or inspired from nature.

In the course of time, the finesse of the materials that were used, the chromatic harmony, but also the cut of the pieces of the Romanian national dress, which were woven, cut and embroidered by hand, were appreciated by Romania’s Queens Elisabeta and Marie, but also by the women aristocrats of the time, who were proud to wear the Romanian national dress at various times.

 
 

The first Blouse Roumaine prototype is considered to be created starting the 6th century B.C in Cucuteni culture. The ancient piece was called “ie”. The name derived from Latin “tunicae linae” which means thin tunic.

 
 

The sewing process of a blouse roumaine. The tradition of manufacturing the blouse is still kept among very rare artisans who are living on forgotten lands of ancient romanian villages.

 
 

Revolutionary Romania (portrait of Maria Rosetti), Constantin Daniel Rosenthal, 1848

 
 

On the other hand, the Romanian blouse caught the artists’ eye and was immortalized by French painter Henri Matisse in several paintings, one of them, La Blouse roumaine (1940), being exhibited at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris. A Romanian painter, Constantin Daniel Rosenthal, immortalized Maria Rosetti (the sister of artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti as well as William Michael Rossetti and Christina Georgina Rossetti) in Revolutionary Romania as wearing this kind of blouse and a head kerchief. The Romanian blouse also appears in the paintings made by Camil Ressu, Ion Theodorescu-Sion, Francisc Sirato, Nicolae Tonitza, Dumitru Ghiata, etc.

 
 

Yves Saint Laurent, 1981 Collection

 
 

Yves Saint Laurent, Spring/Summer 1997-1998

 
 

Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent

 
 

Jean-Paul Gaultier

 
 

Oscar De la Renta

 
 

Matthew Williamson

 
 

Adele wearing a Tom Ford blouse (spring summer 2011 collection)

 
 

Carolina Herrera Resort 2013 Collection

 
 

The Romanian blouse was equally the source of inspiration for the creation of some fashion designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, who in 1981 had an entire collection titled ‘La Blouse roumaine,’ followed by Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo or Tom Ford, who interpreted again the traditional blouse he found in the region of Sibiu (central Romania), with black embroidery specific to that area, which appeared in the American issue of Vogue magazine in March 2012, worn by singer Adele. Then there were Oscar de la Renta, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Anna Sui or Philippe Guilet. Some of the Romanian fashion designers that took their inspiration from the Romanian national dress are Adrian Oianu, Dorin Negrau, Corina Vladescu and Ingrid Vlasov.

A Wreath of Rhymes

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.

Christina Rosetti

Sonnet

 
 

Christina Rosetti and her mother

 
 

My mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart – a heart so large that everybody’s joys found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation.

Mark Twain

Jane Lampton Clemens Mother of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).

 
 

The daughter of Benjamin Lampton and Margaret Casey, Jane was raised in Lexington, Kentucky. As a young woman of exceptional beauty and wit, and a graceful dancer, she was a favorite of many. A young physician from Lexington, Richard Barrett, gained her love, but such were the mores of the time, they found it difficult to see each other. It seems both felt rejected as a result. She would remember him, and even attempt to find him in later life. It has been said that her engagement to John Clemens was more a matter of temper than tenderness, but after their marriage on May 6, 1823, she proved to be a truly loyal, steadfast partner. She married at the age of 20, and bore seven children, outliving all but three.

 
 

Sylvia Plath with her parents, Aurelia and Otto

 
 

“Mother, you are the one mouth
I would be a tongue to…”

Sylvia Plath

Poem for a Birthday

 
 

Alice MacDonald, Rudyard Kipling’s mother

 
 

“If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!”

Rudyard Kipling

Mother O’ Mine

 
 

Balzac’s mother.

 
 

Anne-Charlotte-Laure Sallambier, came from a family of haberdashers in Paris. Her family’s wealth was a considerable factor in the marriage: she was eighteen at the time of the wedding, and Bernard-François fifty. British writer and critic V. S. Pritchett explained, “She was certainly drily aware that she had been given to an old husband as a reward for his professional services to a friend of her family and that the capital was on her side. She was not in love with her husband.”

 
 

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.
Honoré de Balzac

 
 

Mrs. Maria Clemm

 
 

(Born: March 12, 1790 – Died: February 16, 1871)
Poe’s aunt and, after he married his cousin Virginia, his mother-in-law. Poe called her “Muddy.” Although there is some debate as to whether or not she was a positive influence on Edgar, there seems no doubt that she cared for him like a son and that Poe certainly thought of her as a mother. The poem “To My Mother” (first published July 7, 1849) is clearly dedicated to her.

 
 

“Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you-
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.
My mother-my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.”

Edgar Allan Poe

To my Mother

 
 

Naomi and Allen Ginsberg

 
 

“Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I’ve been up all night, talking,
talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
shout blind on the phonograph
the rhythm the rhythm–and your memory in my head three years after–
And read Adonais’ last triumphant stanzas aloud–wept, realizing
how we suffer…”

Allen Ginsberg

Kaddish

 
 

Robert Louis Stevenson with his mother, wife and step-daughter at their temporary residence, Darlinghurst, January 1893

 
 

You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.

Robert Louis Stevenson

To My Mother

 
 

Moorish woman and child with gathered drawers with attached stockings. drawing by Christoph Weiditz.

 
 

“Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother.”

Moorish Proverb