jueves, 16 de octubre de 2014

10 Dark Paintings Vol.3 (& last)


"Illustration to Paradise Lost by John Milton" 1866
Paul Gustave Doré

"Eye-Baloon" 1878
Odilon Redon

"Night" 1885
Edward Robert Hughes

"Dark Thoughts" 
Arthur Hughes

"Pandora" 1896
John William Waterhouse

"The Lotus Gatherers" 1874
John Atkinson Grimshaw

"The Passing of the Angel of Death" 
Johann Heinrich Füssli

"Pole Star" 1902
Alfons María Mucha

"The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 1904
Charles Raymond Macauley

"Margaret Roper Rescuing the Head of her Father Sir Thomas More" 1873
Lucy Madox Brown

martes, 14 de octubre de 2014

10 Dark Paintings Vol.2

VOL. 2

"The Bacchante" 1853
Jean-León Gérôme

"Medusa" 1895
Carlos Schwabe

"In the Park" 1902
August Brömse

"Pandemonium" 1841
John Martin

"The Punishment of the Thieves" 1827
William Blake

"The Abbey in the Oakwood" 1819
Caspar David Friedrich

"Quasimodo" 1839
Antoine Wiertz

"Faust" 1846
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

"Can these Bones Live?" 1898
George Frederic Watts

"In Peril" 1879
John Atkinson Grimshaw

sábado, 11 de octubre de 2014

10 Dark Paintings Vol.1

VOL. 1

"Ariadne Watching the Struggle of Theseus with the Minotaur" 1820

"Triton Blowing on a Conch" 1879

"Viy" 1897

"The Haunting" 1894

"Chaos" 1882

"Oedipus and the Sphinx" 1903

"Douze Chansons" 1896

"The Veil" 1887

"The Witch" 1888

"Les Fantômes" 1829

martes, 7 de octubre de 2014

Tristam and Isolde Through Pre-raphaelite Windows

"Tristam slain by King Mark" 
Ford Madox Brown

The tale of Tristan and Isolde was one of the most influential romances in the medieval period. It predated and influenced the Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere.

Originally, the Tristan legend had nothing to do with King Arthur, but shortly after the Vulgate Cycle (or Lancelot-Grail cycle) in c. 1235, the Prose Tristan, the hero had joined the fellowship of the Round Table.

There are two main traditions of the Tristan legend. The early tradition comprised of the romances from two French poets from the second half of the twelfth century – Thomas and Beroul. Their sources could be trace back to the original, archetype Celtic romance.

Later traditions come from the Prose Tristan (c. 1240), which was markedly different from the earlier tales written by Thomas and Beroul. The Prose Tristan became the official medieval tale of Tristan and Isolde that would provide the materials for Sir Thomas Malory, the English author, who wrote the Le Morte d'Arthur (c. 1469).

(The Bradford Tristam and Isolde stained-glass window series, 1862) 

"The Birth of Sir Tristam" 
Arthur Hugues

"Sir Tristam slays Sir Marhaus" 
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

"Sir Tristam demands La Belle Isolde" 
Val Prinsep

"Sir Tristam drinks a love-philtre with Isolde"
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

"Sir Tristam weds Isolde"
Edward Burne-Jones

"Sir Tristam in the Woods"
Edward Burne-Jones

"La Belle Isolde saved from suicide by King Mark"
Edward Burne-Jones

"The Reunion of Tristam and Isolde at Tintagel"
William Morris

"Tristam and Isolde at King Arthur's Court"
William Morris

"The Tomb of Tristam and Isolde at Cornwall"
William Morris

"Guenevere and Isolde"
William Morris

"King Arthur and Sir Launcelot"
William Morris

miércoles, 1 de octubre de 2014

Otra Rima de Bécquer

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1833-1870)

(Rimas y Leyendas)

Asomaba a sus ojos una lágrima
y a mi labio una frase de perdón;
habló el orgullo y se enjugó su llanto
y la frase en mis labios expiró.
Yo voy por un camino, ella por otro;
pero al pensar en nuestro mutuo amor,
yo digo aún: "¿Por qué callé aquel día?"
Y ella dirá: "¿Por qué no lloré yo?"

lunes, 29 de septiembre de 2014

Angels & Vampires in XIX Century: Morality vs Sexuality

This connection between sexuality and morality clearly reflects contemporary concerns about the social threats posed by women's emancipation, and occurs throughout the nineteenth century. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 but as early as 1814 the risqué elements of Lovers' Vows threatened the peace of Mansfield Park, and in 1897 Bertha Mason was reincarnated in Bram Stoker's horror fantasy Dracula.

During Jonathan Harker's stay at Castle Dracula he awakens to find himself surrounded by three young and beautiful women. The reader is painfully aware that these are vampires whose attentions imperil Harker's soul, but his damnation, like Rochester's is aided by his inability to resist sexual enticements;

"I lay quiet, … in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath on me … The girl went on her knees and bent over me simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive … I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited …"

Harker is saved by the timely intervention of the Count who, re-enacting Rochester's role when Mason is bitten by Bertha, confines them again to their locked quarters.

Lucy Westenra initially seems an unlikely descendant of Bertha Mason. Frequently described as "sweet," she is quiet, pretty, and well bred, with a good moral education. Three men fall in love with her and propose marriage, and although she must refuse two of them it is done with genuine regret at the necessity of hurting them and none of the flirtation common to Blanche Ingram or Mary Crawford. Lucy is attacked by Dracula whose effect on her appears to be sexual; she is heard tossing and moaning and discovered breathless and flushed. Her inability to resist means that, despite the efforts of her would be rescuers, she is easy prey for Dracula on his return, and dies.

Once Lucy becomes a vampire herself she poses a serious moral threat — the loss of Heaven — but it is portrayed in sexual not religious tones; "the purity [was turned] to voluptuous wantonness." Lucy wears a long white shroud resembling both a wedding dress and an angel's gown and carries a child upon whom she has been preying. She attempts to seduce her fiancé into joining her; and he "under a spell" almost does so. In losing her soul Lucy has become a travesty of wife, mother and Angel, endangering any respectable man falling within her sphere of influence; the archetypal establishment view of the New Woman.

As well as the female vampire representing sexual liberation and dominance, it can also be argued that she embodies the notion of the liberated woman. Adèle Gladwell writes in her article ‘The Erogenous Disease’, ‘The female vampire remains an intriguing character, as she was perceived to be the “metaphor of female liberation” in a period of complete patriarchy’ ‘Her sexuality and cunning nature were seen as the antithesis of Victorian women […] her behaviour caused a sense of fear in men due to the power she exuded […] could seduce men and women alike, making her a formidable foe […] the male vampire is a frightening figure to men […] he can show women their own masculinity, including their innate sexuality as a member of the human species’. She continues of the sexual awareness of the female vampire, ‘The female vampire, on the other hand, is already aware of this sexuality […] capable of destroying and emasculating the male character. This masculinity of the female goes against the framework of Victorian standards […]’ this ‘emasculation’ of the male character is demonstrated in Stoker’s Dracula, and in Le Fanu’s Carmilla; both instances portray male impotence, both in a sexual and corporeal sense juxtaposed against the strength of the female vampire. In her article, Gladwell perfectly summarises the character of the Female Vampire, capturing all of her elements and highlighting her existence as taboo.

miércoles, 24 de septiembre de 2014

The Bohemianism

Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)


Bohemia first began with Henry Murger and the Water Drinkers, in the cafe he discovered, the Cafe Momus. For many of these bohemians, the lifestyle was merely a stepping stone and not a full-blown profession. Murger himself always insisted that living in the world of bohemia without the ambition to leave it would destroy a person.

As with most counter-culture movements throughout history, as the 1st Generation of the bohemian movement came to be known by the wider public, many members of that public found it mysterious and intriguing, and willingly descended into its ranks. Many second generation bohemians did not see bohemia as a means to an end, however, and so the movement began to degrade.

Henri Murger (1822-1861)

"In his survey Le Boheme, in 1868, Gabriel Guillemot had pointed out that the word 'Bohemian' had dated. Bohemian, as he explained, was a word in the current vocabulary of 1840: it had meant the artist or student, gay and carefree, idle and boisterous, the characters whom Murger had painted in bright, attractive colours. But that Bohemia, wrote Guillemot, 'which one might call the Bohemia of legend, is well and truly dead'

Guillemot gave a harsh reading of 2nd Generation bohemia, but much he argued was true, such as "few men of talent, let alone men of genius, remained Bohemian throughout their lives. The vast majority of those who did were men who lacked the talent to make a lasting reputation, and men who lacked the moral fibre, the sense of responsibility, to lead a satisfactory adult life"

One member of 2nd generation bohemia was Paul Verlaine, (1844-1896), a poet who embraced the bohemian lifestyle all too heartily, and it caused many tragedies in his life. Heavily addicted to absinthe, Verlaine spent much time in the hospital or the tavern.

Originally married, Verlaine had a long, torrid affair with another well-known poet, Arthur Rimbaud. Rimbaud was ten years younger, and he encouraged Verlaine's drinking and violent temper to such an extent that Verlaine's other bohemian friends refused to spend time with him when he was with Rimbaud. Their relationship ended tragically when Verlaine shot and killed Rimbaud and was imprisoned. Even after his imprisonment, Verlaine's life was full of alcohol, poverty, and indiscretions.

Though his poetry has become a respected part of the literary canon, Verlaine is an example of how bohemia began to degrade in later years, and lost some of the purity of purpose that Murger had always tried to emphasize.

Not everything about bohemia began to degrade, of course. In general there was a change from a world of Murger, Romanticism, and the Cafe Momus to artists like Courbet, Realism, and the Brasserie Andler (which was "conveniently situated on the ground floor of Courbet's house in the Rue Hautefeuille"). The group which had made up the original Water Drinkers was breaking up, many members were either dead or "like Murger and Champfleury themselves, had forced their way into the larger world of journalism and the theatre".

Bohemia as a whole in Paris ended in 1914, with the onset of World War I. Such a carefree lifestyle was intolerable with France being thrown into a flurry of war campaigns. It was time to get serious, fight for one's country, and leave art and music behind, at least for a while.

"Terrace on a Cafe on Montmartre" 1886
Vincent Van Gogh 

Mention Bohemia to any Frenchman during the mid-ninteenth century and they would think of the cafes that Murger and his friends frequented. Around tables in these cafes, Bohemians met to socialize and share ideas.

Henry Murger discovered the Cafe Momus, on the Right Bank near the church of Saint-Germaine-l'Auxerrois, in the years preceding 1848. This cafe soon became a popular meeting-place of such important Bohemians as Gustave Courbet and Alexandre Privat d'Anglemont. The Cafe Momus was such an important location for the Bohemians that it was featured in Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme.

Murger also visited the Chez Dinochau and Brasserie des Martyrs on the Right Bank. The Brasserie des Martyrs, a noisy, smoke-filled cafe in the rue des Martyrs. The Brasserie was a cafe for writers and painters like Murger, Baudelaire and Courbet. The Brasserie des Martyrs was famous for providing a genuine Bohemian atmosphere. Together Murger, Courbet and Baudelaire, who had met in the 1840s in cafes like the Momus, represented three styles of Bohemian life.

When these different types of Bohemianism came together in the cafes to drink coffee, lively discussion almost always followed.

Drawing by Thackeray

The Bohemians devoted a lot of their time to undermining mainstream culture. This meant sitting all day in a cafe and buying only one cup of coffee or setting up an easel and nude model right inside the cafe, and it also meant showing defiance through dress and manner. Bohemian Fashion is something of a contradiction in terms, because usually the bohemians dressed themselves in whatever they could scrounge up.

However, as Hanna Manchin discusses in her essay, "The Grisette as the Female Bohemian," the bohemians turned their poverty into a statement and made it powerful. "Their irreverence for bourgeois norms was partly due to necessity, but it was the meaning that they made of their situation that made them subversive." The bohemians were always known for being dressed in out-of-date styles or unfashionable colors, "but they did not understand this as shameful" (Manchin).
A fine example of the absurdity of bohemian fashion can be found in the opening passages of Henry Murger's Scenes de la Vie de Boheme. As the story opens, we are introduced to the vibrant Schaunard, a poor musician living in the Latin Quarter of Paris. He awakens with a jolt, and what follows gives us a good idea of the blatant disregard Bohemians had for fashion and "high culture:"

"To protect himself against the biting north-wind, Schaunard slipped on in haste a pink satin petticoat with spangled stars, which served him for dressing-gown. This gay garment had been left at the artist's lodging, one masked-ball night, by a foile, who was fool enough to let herself be entrapped by the deceitful promises of Schaunard..."

"Painters are the only persons who can decently appear in dressing-gowns; but these are none of your easy morning-gowns; they are commonly of splendid stuff, and put on by the artist in order to render himself remarkable and splendid in the eyes of his sitter" (Thackerayana 444).

Schaunard continues to prepare for his day, and it is hard not to fall in love with such a jovial, silly character:

"He was preparing to put on an overcoat, originally of a long-haired, woolly fabric, but now completely bald from age, when suddenly, as if bitten by a tarantula, he began to execute around the room a polka of his own composition, which at the public balls had often caused him to be honoured with the particular attention of the police."

Schaunard is not the only Bohemian with a blatant disregard for fashion. The 'Battle' of Hernani also gave the bohemians a chance to showcase their scorn for bourgeois ideals. They arrived at the event, as Hugo recollected, "wild whimsical characters, bearded, long-haired, dressed in every fashion but the reigning one, in pea-jackets, in Spanish cloaks, in waistcoats a la Robespierre, in Henry III bonnets, carrying on their heads and backs articles of costume from every century and clime, and this in the middle of Paris and in broad daylight" (Easton 53).

One of the values that bohemians renounced was private property. They rarely had any permanent dwellings or furniture to go in them. They lived and worked in the cafes, streets, libraries and other public spaces of Paris. Bohemians possessed few worldly belongings at all. Schunard, one of Murger's characters, carried all of his belongings inside gigantic pockets in his clothing. Members of Bohemia often adopted a communal lifestyle, sharing lodging with other Bohemian companions. They often carried around a few luxury or decorative items that served to spruce up a drab living space for a night of celebration; to "set up for the occasion as one might pitch a tent." If an artist found a living space he might decorate the walls with his paintings.

The bohemian life was carefree. As part of their rebellion against "genteel" society, bohemians felt no reason to exhibit moral or socially acceptable behavior. One participant, Houssaye, printed in his memoirs, "We were afraid of nothing and thumbed our noses at public opinion. . .The most outstanding characteristic of our Bohemian existence was our open revolt against all prejudices, I might say against all laws. We lived as if entrenched in a fortress from which we made belligerent sallies ridiculing everything." (Knepler, 31,32)

Bohemians tended to indulge in alcohol as well as drug experimentation. In fact, drugs were used by many to supposedly help with inspiration. Bohemians were also overtly promiscuous, in contrast to how the bourgeois obscured this facet of their lives. Houssaye records one of his friends saying, "I would give my French citizenship for a view of Julia Grisi emerging from her bath." (Knepler, 32) Bohemian men made as many conquests as they could. Schunard had a collection of sixty locks of hair, exemplifying this pleasure-seeking way of life.

Pursuit of Wealth: In contrast to the Bourgeois preoccupation with obtaining wealth and status, the bohemian life was characteristically idle; idle in the sense that they did nothing that yielded material wealth. A friend of Houssaye said, "I don't do any work, on the pretext of writing a poem; and I write a poem to have an excuse for not doing anything." (Knepler, 33) A bohemian's "job" was the perfection of his literature or art. If a bohemian wished to gain higher status it was ideally through the pursuit of his passion. Houssaye himself observed, "Our lives seemed to pass in the serious service of art, and the light-hearted service of love. Beyond heart and intellect we refused to go." (Knepler, 32) Murger's Scenes de La Vie de Boheme illustrate how this ideal played out in day to day life. In one scene Schunard wakes up to find that his rent is due that day, only to ignore this trivial issue, sit down at his piano, and wait for musical inspiration.

Bohemians felt the need to express and assert themselves, being at such a social and economic disadvantage. It was almost as if they flaunted their marginality; by practicing an alternative and contrasting lifestyle, bohemians undermined the bourgeois.