Sunday, June 28, 2009

Secondhand Books and Surprises

I recently purchased a secondhand book because of the charming little pieces of art published in it. This sketch of the ballerina Marie Taglioni is my favorite. She was the first to dance on point and the artist commented, "She danced quite beautifully, quite as if she flew in the air, so gracefully and lightly."
This pretty-in-pink portrait of a musician was done by the same artist, who lived during the 1800's. Can you guess who the artist is?
This portrait is entitled "Mifs Victoire Conroy from nature" and is dated December 1836. Any last guesses? The artist of these three pieces is none other than Queen Victoria (The Sketchbook of Queen Victoria by Marina Warner). For some reason, it really surprised me that Queen Victoria was such a good artist. I know that young women of that era were expected to have "accomplishments" such as drawing, playing music and sewing, but somehow these light, pastel pieces don't seem like they would have been created by the woman who looked somewhat dark and dowdy in her later-in-life portraits.
And here's another surprising piece of art, also found in a second-hand book. This is a collage, from a series on Queen Elizabeth, by Gloria Vanderbilt (Gloria Vanderbilt Book of Collage). It fascinated me that a fashion designer and a woman of such wealth would choose to make her art out of scraps of humble materials like gingham fabric, paper doilies and tin foil. You can see another one of the Queen Elizabeth pieces at David Duncan Antiques. I'd love to hear about your secondhand book finds.

2 comments:

Karen from A`Musements said...

Thank you very much for writing this post! How fascinating... I too, had no idea Queen Victoria was an artist... but her style is amazing. Very interesting!
xoxo
Karen

Gep said...

Who knew that she could draw! What a marvelously fun book to find!!