Monday, June 21, 2010

Somewhere in Time

When you gaze at period portraits, do you ever insert your own face into the painting? (I do.) For some reason, I always feel a spiritual kinship with women who look like this.
(Christian Schad, "Maika", 1929)

Or this.
(Portrait of Julia Strachey by Dora Carrington, 1925)

Or this. With her, it's all about the contrast between her soft gossamer looks and that deep unflinching gaze -- she looks as though she has a story or two to tell, doesn't she?
(Fraulein Mulino von Kluck by Christian Schad, 1930)

It's interesting to remember that some of these subjects were the mega-celebrities of yesterday.
(Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough, 1783)

(Princess Mary Tudor and the Duke of Suffolk, c. 1516, unknown artist)

All this preamble is just a lead-in to showing you the next four fabulous portraits. Looking at them never fails to give me an inordinate amount of joy.
(Amy Winehouse via here)

(Brangelina via here)

(Drew Barrymore via here)

(Jennifer Aniston, via here)

Have a cheeky Monday.

(Celebrity portraits from How to be a Retronaut, via the Photoshop geniuses at Worth1000.)


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well, Drew looks practically perfect in every way! Her face is timeless, obviously.

As for me. I have just come in from a morning's work in the garden. It is hades hot here today so the only famous portrait I long to be at the moment is Manet's naked lady on the picnic in the shade.

Cheryl said...

LOVE these...I have to admit, I think I prefer the modern ones. King and Queen Brangelina, and Drew Barrymore as a milkmaid (she SO looks like a milkmaid)...lovely.

Anonymous said...

the last few are hilarious!

Chedva @Rooms and Words said...

Oh, there's nothing I love more than look at random portraits of (now) anonymous women (to me) and guess what they thought at the moment. what lives did they lead and would I like to be their friend were they to live in this day and age.

1 Funky Woman said...

I love portraits like these and am drawn to them myself. I have two that if there was a fire I would grab them after my kids of course!

pve design said...

Oh I want one of those "somewhere in time" Black velvet paintings of me....
one of those cheeky sort of paint by number ones....too funny.

Laura said...

Drew is so adorable! Jennifer Aniston looks utterly out of place with that rag on her head, but then she is just so Malibu I suppose it is to be expected...

Lisa said...

The photos of the celebs are almost as much fun as their counterparts at:

As Mr. Bennet says in “Pride and Prejudice”: “For what do we live, but to make sport of our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”

Great start to my week, which given that my scale registers 3lbs more than two weeks ago, is a great respite from personal woes.

It's also the best Amy Winehouse has looked in years!!!

Jane said...

What I think is interesting is that different faces go in and out of style and fashion. I have been told I have a Victorian face. That could easily be an insult when you think of Queen Victoria but I don't think it was meant that way.

I kind of see a bit of you in that first one!

Portrait painting is a bit lost now isn't it. But I guess that is the role the photos people like Leibowitz take fulfills now.

Terra said...

I have visited many art museums and majored in art history and enjoyed this post with portraits of the women with serious eyes. How funny the modern faces look. Do they know less of despair or affairs of state? They seem to lack "gravitas".
Nice post.

Scot Meacham Wood said...

you must know that I could almost hear Rachmaninoff's "Paganini Rhapsody" in the distant background . . .

(and hilarious)

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Such interesting comments, every one of you...

Jane: It is so fascinating to think what era/time period people's faces look the best in. I have a friend named Jane whose classical English features should have been painted by John Singer Sargent, and another beautiful friend Olga whose Croatian bone structure is ripe for a sitting by Christian Schad.

Lisa: OMG, that link is wicked! And too funny. As are you. :)

Pamela Terry and Edward: Love your idea. But who would the men be? ;)

Belly: The exact same thoughts always go through my head, too. xx

Terra: They do look a little out-of-place, don't they? I think you're right that life was more serious back then. In today's world, we have all mastered the million dollar smile...which works for photos but not as much on oil and canvas.

TartanScot: I knew you'd like it. xx

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

Thanks (as always) for introducing me to a "new" artist with a style that I LOVE, Christian Schad.

so good he is bad

Kelle Dame said...

Great post! The last few are genius! Now Jane has me wondering what time period my face belongs in! Maybe there is a website for this like the ones that help you figure out which hair cut is best for your face.

Thank you for the info on the artist. I really want to check out more!

Room Temperature said...

Well, some people have mastered the million-dollar smile, others only the mive-dollar fake grin. Then there's Drew. I've seen her in a few movies & they were pretty forgettable, but put her in front of a still camera and she'll break your heart. Her photos' power to enthrall equals those of the great Hollywood photographers of a half-century ago. Then again, if you could get George Hurrell to take your picture, you could probably skip making actual movies, because Hurell could make you a star without 'em.

In most cases, though, a painter has an advantage over a photographer because he can capture on the sly a look or a telling gesture that never appears when the cameras are watching. You can only grab so much truth in 1/100th of second.

That, I think was Hurrell's genius: he didn't even try to do that--capture his sitters being "real", this, after all, being Hollywood--but, instead used the camera the way other, older artists used a brush, and by doing so, brought out the personality of his sitters. Today, if photographers do that at all, the point seems to be to show how unattractive & ordinary most of our stars really are. At least I hope that's their intent.

One day when I was riding the bus downtown, I noticed that the back page of the free paper that everybody but me was reading had a big photo quiz: one side of the page had a dozen or so pictures of the stars of the summer's biggest movies, and on the other side of the page was a list of I don't remember what--the stars' biggest bombs, or their former spouses, or how much they paid for their new Aspen digs, whatever--that's not the point.

Anyway, we, the readers, were supposed to match up the two columns, the way we used to do in My Weekly Reader in first grade, which is a whole nother discussion: how did grown-ups get so dumb? They had transistor radios when I was a kid, so my parents could have had them if they wanted them, but I can't imagine either of them riding the bus to the office with transistors plugged into their ears, drinking from gigantic Sippy Cups & reading the Star or the Enquirer. What the hell happened? But I digress.

Anyway, we ere supposed to match up the pics & the other thing. Now, however, I was the dummy. No gold star for me, because I didn't even recognize a single face on the page. Most of the guys were young & unshaven & most of women looked like they hadn't had time to do their hair. As a group, they were totally ordinary. Now, maybe those stars' fame is based on their incredible acting ability rather than on mere physical beauty, but, somehow, I doubt it. Anyway, they looked like nobodies.

All I know is that, if I were a big star, and knowing how things move from one extreme to the other, I'd want to cover my bets & make sure that, when the trend eventually goes back the other way again, I had a few photos where I looked drop-dead gorgeous, and not just in a stringy-hair, no-lips 2010 way.

Meanwhile, while we wait for the aesthetic poles to reverse, here's a woman who perfected the modern look almost a hundred years ago: Mrs. Howard Linn of Chicago, decorator, socialite & philanthropist, as painted by Abram Poole.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...


You. Slay. Me.

I so appreciate your taking the time to leave your comment/tome/philosophical novella.

And holy Hurrell, that portrait by Poole is something else.

Hannah Stoneham said...

I have always loved that picture of Mary Tudor - she looks so calm and a little uneasy - I suspect that the artist intended the calm but not the uneasiness! I have a relation who loves painting us all as historical figures

Happy Tuesday


Bart Boehlert said...

Too funny! I like the originals better : )

Pergolina said...

those are so funny!

thanks for sharing...

b from pergolina

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