Room Service @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sometimes I like to wander in and out of the period rooms, so elegant and opulent, so meticulously arranged down to the last detail, and imagine how it would be to live in places like these:  Formal Reception Room from the Hôtel de Tessé at 1, quai Voltaire, Paris.


Room from the Hôtel de Varengeville at 217, boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris.


The Lauzun Room (Hôtel Lauzun at 17, quai d’Anjou, Ile Saint-Louis).


Back Panels of Choir Stalls
From choir stalls made by the cabinetmaker Johan Justus Schacht with the help of twenty-one assistants for the church of the Carthusian monastery in Mainz.
Panels: oak veneered with walnut, boxwood, rosewood, ebony, maple and other woods, ivory, green-stained horn and pewter.
Figures: carved and painted limewood
Mainz, 1723-26 with additions from 1787


Would my dreams be any different under this canopy?

This armoire had me wondering how much more detail could one squeeze on a single piece of furniture: Armoire
Oak veneered with walnut and marquetry woods and set with silvered-bronze mounts
Design by Jean Brandley (active 1855-67)
Woodwork by Charles-Guillaume Diehl (1811-about 1885)
Mounts by Emmanuel Frémiet (1824-1910)
French (Paris), 1867

The central plaque of this ”Merovingian” armoire depicts the victory of the troops of King Merovech over the forces of Attila the Hun in 451. The prototype, a medal cabinet made for the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867, is in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. This armoire was commissioned by the cabinetmaker Diehl for his country house at Lagny.


Secrétaire à abattant
Walnut, parcel-ebonized and inlaid with various woods; mounted with gilt bronze; leather, glass, brass
Austrian, ca. 1815-20, with later additions.

Pair of side chairs
Attributed to Josef Danhauser (1780-1829)
Beech and pine wood, cherry wood veneer and ebonized mahogany; covered in silk not original to chair
Austrian (Vienna), ca. 1815-20


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

May 28th, 2017

Irving Penn || Centennial

In 2017, Irving Penn (1917–2009) would have been one hundred years old. To mark the occasion, The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted ”Irving Penn: Centennial”, in collaboration with The Irving Penn Foundation. It was the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the work of the great American photographer.

Here are some photos of the photos (and reflections thereof) which I hope you’ll enjoy :-

Image titles:

1/ Irving Penn: Centennial
2-3/ Roleiflex 3.5 E3 Twin-Lens Reflex Camera with 75 mm Carl Zeiss Planar Lens, 1961-64. Irving Penn acquired this camera in 1964 and used it and other similar models for portrait sittings for the next four decades. It is topped with a modified Hasselblad chimney viewfinder and mounted on a Tiltall pan/tilt head above a table tripod of the artist’s own design.
4/Carl Erickson and Elise Daniels, New York, 1947
5/Charles James, New York, 1948
6/
Marcel Duchamp, New York, 1948
7/
Alfred Hitchcock, New York, 1947
8/
Dusek Brothers, New York, ca. 1948
9/
Ballet Society, New York, 1948
10/
The Tarot Reader (Bridget Tichenor and Jean Patchett), New York, 1949
11/
Black and White Fashion with Handbag (Jean Patchett), New York, 1950
12/
Vogue covers: Between 1943 and 2004 Penn produced photographs for 165 Vogue magazine covers, more than any other artist to date.
13/
Vogue Fashion Photography (Jean Patchett), New York, 1949
14/
Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris, 1950
15/
Girl Drinking (Mary Jane Russell), New York, 1949
16/Man Lighting Girl’s Cigarette (Jean Patchett), New York, 1949
17/
Many Skirted Indian Woman, Cuzco, 1948
18/
Cuzco Children, 1948
19/
Butcher, London, 1950
20/
Facteur (Mailman), Paris, 1950
21/
Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1957
22/
Francis Bacon, London, 1962
23/
Cecil Beaton, London, 1950
24/
Cat Woman, New Guinea, 1970
25/
Two Guedras, Morocco, 1971
26/
Four Guedras, Morocco, 1971
27/
Not an Irvin Penn image but the type of background he would frequently use, New York, 2017
28/
Birgitta Klercker – Long Hair with Bathing Suit, New York, 1966
29/
Clockwise from left: Ingmar Bergmann, Stockholm, 1964 – Alvin Ailey, New York, 1971 – S. J. Perelman, New York, 1962 – Tom Wolfe, New York, 1966
30/
Truman Capote, New York, 1965
31/
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, New York, 1993
32/
Three Poppies ‘Arab Chief’, New York, 1969
33/
Girl with Tobacco on Tongue (Mary Jane Russell), New York, 1951

The Met

May 28th, 2017

Meet Peder Balke || Painter of Northern Light

The North Cape by Moonlight, 1848
Oil on canvas


Finnmark Landscape, ca. 1860
Oil on canvas


Seascape, 1870s
Oil on wood


Northern Lights, 1870s
Oil on wood

To produce this striking image, Balke first applied a thin layer of paint for the sky and then a thicker one for the water. Subsequently, he removed paint with a serrated device to reveal the white ground layer, producing the effects of the lights. Finally, he added details such as the coastline and boats with a brush. 


Seascape, ca. 1845
Oil on canvas, mounted on masonite

Majestic mountains and immense, churning clouds are indifferent to the course of a steamer chugging along the coast, trailed by gulls. This work, a tour de force of Balke’s ability to dematerialize form through the use of a limited palette, strikes a balance between painterly effect and a poetic vision that aspires to the Sublime. 


Moonlit View of Stockholm, ca. 1850
Oil on panel


Incredibly, I had to cross the Atlantic to see these wonderfully poetic works and even learn about the existence of this artist.

Images from an exhibition of 17 paintings by Peder Balke, presented at The Met in 2017.

May 28th, 2017

A Madman Distilling his Brains

The Robert Lehman Wing was built not only to showcase the vast Lehman Collection – donated to the museum by the family – but parts of it were made to look like rooms recreating the Lehman family residence. 

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
Saint Jerome as Scholar, 
ca. 1610

Oil on canvas


Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) 
Condesa de Altamira and Her Daughter, María Agustina – 1787–88
Oil on canvas


Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres  
Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn (1825–1860), Princesse de Broglie
Oil on canvas

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the neo-classical French artist par excellence, painted this masterpiece toward the end of his life when his reputation as a portraitist to prominent citizens and Orléanist aristocrats had been long established. Pauline de Broglie sat for the artist’s final commission. Ingres captures the shy reserve of his subject while illuminating through seamless brushwork the material quality of her many fine attributes: her rich blue satin and lace ball gown, the gold embroidered shawl, and silk damask chair, together with finely tooled jewels of pearl, enamel, and gold. The portrait was commissioned by the sitter’s husband, Albert de Broglie, a few years after their ill-fated marriage. Pauline was stricken with tuberculosis soon after completion of the exquisite portrait, leaving five sons and a grieving husband. Through Albert’s lifetime, it was draped in fabric on the walls of the family residence. The portrait remained in the de Broglie family until shortly before Robert Lehman acquired it.


The collection also comprises some extravagant, utterly amusing objects:Inkstand with Apollo and the Muses
Workshop of the Patanazzi family (Italian, active ca. 1580–1620)
Probably after Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) (Italian, Urbino 1483–1520 Rome)
Date: 1584
Medium: Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)

This extravagant desk set celebrates the art of poetry while providing a writer with storage for the tools of his craft. The exterior decorations evoke ancient Roman art and honor the divine sources of creativity. Gods and muses perch beside famous poets atop an elaborate confection of drawers and removable containers, including inkwells and a sand-shaker (for drying fresh text). Inside, the compartments are decorated with images denoting their contents, such as scissors and quills.


Among which my personal favourite:
Inkstand with A Madman Distilling His Brains, ca. 1600
Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)

In this whimsical maiolica sculpture, a well-dressed man leans forward in his seat with his head in a covered pot set above a fiery hearth. The vessel beside the hearth almost certainly held ink. The man’s actions are explained by an inscription on the chair: “I distill my brain and am totally happy.” Thus the task of the writer is equated with distillation—the process through which a liquid is purified by heating and cooling, extracting its essence.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art
March 19th, 2017

Maria in the wings

Her black velvet eyes, captivating. More than the nude bodies of her friends. Or the chubby cheeks of Madame Roulin’s baby. I wonder if Madame would have approved. Maria, 1907-10
Kees van Dongen
Oil on canvas


Tahitian Women Bathing, 1892
Paul Gauguin
Oil on paper laid down on canvas


Madame Roulin and Her Baby, 1888
Vincent van Gogh
Oil on canvas


Reclining Nude, 1928
Suzanne Valadon
Oil on canvas (lined)

Suzanne Valadon posed as a model for Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec before she began painting herself in 1893. While she favoured still lifes and portraits, Valadon is best known for her paintings of female nudes – a subject rarely chosen by women artists at the time. 


The Robert Lehman Wing,
Metropolitan Museum of Art

March 19th, 2017