Credits in sequence:

Blue Jasper Plaque with Apollo and the Muses, ca. 1778-80
Manufactured by Wedgwood and Bentley, Stoke-on-Trent, England
The Huntington Gardens
Geometric Hearth Rug, ca. 1800
Attributed to Mary Peters Hewins
Quilts made between 1850-1896
Drunkard’s Path Quilt, ca. 1880-90
(the large red square one with the yellow pattern)
Pair of Pockets, ca. 1775
Because most American women’s clothing in the 18th century lacked fixed pockets, detachable pockets such as these were tied around the waist and worn either over a dress or under an overskirt. They were worn both singly and in pairs. It is extremely unusual for a pair such as this to survive intact. I urgently need two pairs!
Helen E. Hatch
Folk Art Crazy Quilt, 1885

The Huntington

July 16th, 2017

Straight Windsor Lines & Shaker Oval Boxes

1/ & 2/
Windsor Armchairs & Settee, mid 18th century

Decorated Boxes
Used to store everything from grains, spices and dried fruits to combs, sewing accessories, jewelry, tobacco and documents, these boxes were often decorated as gifts.

Oval Shaker Boxes, ca. 1840-60

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing became more commonly known as ”Shakers” because of their ”ecstatic and violent bodily agitation” in worship. A Christian sect founded in 1747 in Manchester, England they emigrated to America to avoid persecution. Their first settlement was in New Lebanon, New York and eventually eighteen other communities were established, reaching a total number of 5.000 devotees during the decade preceding the Civil War.

Though men and women lived separately in Shaker communities, they believed in gender equality; they also believed in celibacy, common property and the second coming of Christ.

The Shakers were hard working, excellent farmers and equally great artisans who embraced new technologies and used them to create fine furniture, tools, equipment and artifacts, guided by the principles of simplicity, utility and honesty.

Perhaps the best known of these artifacts are their distinctive oval storage boxes secured with swallowtail ”fingers” or laps. Oval box making began in the 1790s at the New Lebanon, New York, community (the Shakers’ spiritual centre) as one of the first Shaker industries, and survived well into the 20th century. While boxes were produced for use by the Shakers themselves, the vast majority were sold to outsiders, becoming one of the Shakers’ most profitable commercial products.

Little did the first settlers know that, two hundred years later, their simple, honest designs would be admired by art enthusiasts as museum pieces!

Sargent Claude Johnson, 1888-1967
Untitled (screen for pipe organ)

The Huntington

July 16th, 2017

Blue Note

Carrington (Portrait of a Girl in a Blue Jersey), 1912 by Mark Gertler (1891-1939)
Oil and tempera on canvas

Though begun in tempera, this portrait was finished in oils, a more forgiving medium. The switch may have been made from necessity: Gertler often admonished his sitter, fellow art student and object of his unrequited love, Dora Carrington, for her habit of rarely sitting still.

Bathers (Bath Houses), 1950 by George Tooker (1920-2011)
Egg tempera on gessoed board

Tooker used egg tempera, a medium popular among Renaissance painters which underwent a revival in the 1930s and 1940s, to capture exacting details.

The Long Leg, ca. 1930 by Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Oil on canvas

The Long Leg depicts a sailboat near the Long Point Light at Provincetown, Massachusetts, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The boat sails in a zigzag series of short )and long tacks, or legs. Although the painting portrays a scene of leisure, no people are  visible on the boat or the landscape. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) this absence, this is my all time favourite of all of Hopper’s brilliant works.

The Huntington

July 16th, 2017

The [k]night is dark

The Animated Series (1992) opening storyboards, drawn by Bruce Timm and coloured by Eric Radomski.

For me, The Animated Series (1992-1995) is the definitive Batman. And the opening title sequence encapsulates the essence of Batman in way that has yet to be surpassed.



Warner Bros Studio Tour

July 14th, 2017

Dr. Phibes Rises Again

Following his murderous quest for vengeance against the doctors he believes responsible for the death of his beloved wife, Victoria, the fiendish Dr. Phibes enters the crypt where he has enshrined her, ”incredibly maintained neither alive nor completely dead”. And there he places himself in suspended life, like her, until it will be time to rise again. And there he lays in darkness, next to her body, in a splendid satin sarcophagus, until the moon, aligning with the eternal planets, shines upon the sarcophagus – once every 2.000 years – signalling the opening of the crypt. And then, the fiendish Dr. Phibes rises again from his deep sleep and, together with his trusted aid, Vulnavia, prepares to take Victoria to Egypt where, years ago, in a mountain overlooking the Valley of the Pharaohs, he prepared a wondrous shrine, ”unknown by any living man”. There, under a secret temple, the River of Life flows, promising resurrection for Victoria and eternal life for them both.

Three years have passed, and now it is time for their greatest adventure. But, to his utter horror, Dr. Phibes finds his house has been destroyed and his papyrus scrolls stolen, the very scrolls that would lead him back to the secret temple in Egypt.


Stills from imdb and filmgrab archives

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)

October 27th, 2018

Paradise Lost | The Art of the Sublime

I was browsing through some gorgeous prints yesterday evening, courtesy of The New York Satellite Print Fair, where seventeen dealers present their fine prints and drawings during print week. From Old Masters to contemporary artists, there are some remarkable works of art to be found here and that’s only an annex to the main event – the Fine Art Print Fair – at the Javits Center in Manhattan West. Photography is completely out of place in this environment but the prints reminded me of these sublime works by William Blake, on view at the Huntington in Los Angeles.

Satan watching the endearments of Adam and Eve, 1807
Pen and watercolour

Raphael Warns Adam and Eve, 1807
Pen and watercolour

Rout of the Rebel Angels, 1807
Pen and watercolour

The Creation of Eve, 1807
Pen and watercolour

The Temptation and Fall of Eve, 1807
Pen and watercolour

The Judgement of Adam and Eve; So Judged He Man, 1807
Pen and watercolour

For William Blake, the Bible was the greatest work of poetry ever written. Only Milton’s 17th century epic poem, Paradise Lost, rivaled its importance to his art. Blake produced three separate sets of illustrations for Paradise Lost, the first a series of twelve drawings commissioned by Joseph Thomas in 1807. Henry E. Huntington purchased all of the watercolours in this original series between 1911 and 1914. 


The Huntington

July 16th, 2017