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.

Friday, June 19, 2009

All Things Marie

Have you seen Marie from Somerset? It's filled with gorgeous art inspired by Marie Antoinette. It must have made quite an impact on me, because I seem to be finding her image all over the place, and somtimes bringing the item home. Like this box from an antique mall in Des Moines.
Or this tiny notepad from Barnes & Noble (tucked in a watered silk bag found in an antique store in Hopkins, Minnesota.)
But my favorite item has to be this piece, which now adorns my dress form. It has the sacred heart emblazened with flames and Marie's cipher. I found this a couple of weekends ago at an antique show here in the Kansas City area. The dealer's tag had no clues about the piece--I just recognized the cipher from seeing it used in several of the Marie magazine art pieces. Now, I'm reading Queen of Fashion (What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution) by Caroline Weber. Has the tragic French queen inspired you?