Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rota Fortunae

Oh good golly, I really can't stay away from blogging. Even in the middle of panic—48 hours left until the drop-dead-deadline, with so much more to do—I find myself here at the magic machine, calling up more images.

Fortune Magazine started publishing 81 years ago this month, just four months after the start of the Great Depression, and most appropriately used an archaic image of the wheel of fortune for its first cover.

T.M. Cleland — Fortune Magazine — February 1930

Loonngg before the TV show, 'Wheel of Fortune', Rota Fortunae was an archaic concept referring to the capricious nature of Fate, as used by Jean Delville in the image below.

Jean Delville — Rota Fortunae

And gives a good excuse to pull up the image below because it too was painted by Jean Delville, which preceded, and I'll bet was an inspiration for, Kahlil Gibran's spiritual love art.

Jean Delville — Soul Love — 1900

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cartes de luxe

Major deadlines are looming over me for the next 5 weeks, so I'm going to need to be on hiatus on this blog between now and the 1st of March, and then maybe also a couple of weeks later. We'll see.

So in the meantime, clear the decks, cuz I hope this post suits you—and if you're like me, we're two of a kind, flush with excitement. I'm not playing with a full deck here, though I might just be bluffing. Maybe I'm playing my hand too close to the vest, but trumping some other posts, this material could be used in all the best clubs, enjoyed in spades, setting our hearts afire as much as diamonds are forever. Whether you're king of the hill, queen for a day, or jack of all trades—you people are aces with me . . . so deal with it!

Paul-Émile Bécat was a master of erotica, usually for limited edition books, but here has painted a tour de force that is an erotic limited edition of a deck of playing cards (did you get my subtle hints up above? Was I too subtle?).

Titled le Florentin, the deck is copyrighted 1955 by Éditions Philibert, Paris. Bécat's art and designs are masterful and clever, elevating the status of ephemera.

These miniatures were styled after, and celebrate, famous paintings of Old Masters, and the descriptions we have of the masterpieces destroyed in the Bonfire of the Vanities in 1497—upon order of the monk Savonarola (a despicable deed that included destruction of paintings by Sandro Botticelli). Renaissance history lessons could be planned around these cards.

The Royal Suits, like most playing cards, have images that can rotate, showing properly—top or bottom. I have posted these cards in both directions so that you don't have to turn your computer upside down ;>)

The frontispiece card, above, opens the door to characters shown in the deck.

One of the jokers is the giant jester of the Duke of Mantua, whose main duty was to keep an eye on the 'collection' of dwarves given to his master by the other princes of Europe.

The other joker is a Lady, personifying the Florentine festivities.

The Adventuresses

Allegory of gold

Allegory of Love

The poisoners

The powerful Duke Leonardo, famous for his wealth and his patronage of the arts

the rotated image

Allegory of the soldiers

the rotated image

King Francis I

the rotated image

Bluebeard and his wives

the rotated image

Protecting and encouraging the arts

the rotated image

'La Belle Ferronnière', favorite of King Francis I

the rotated image

The lady and the rose, recurrent them of the Renaissance

the rotated image

Lucrecia Borgia

the rotated image

Leonardo da Vinci, surrounded by the beauties he made immortal

the rotated image

The messenger of love

The rotated image

The lovers of Verona

the rotated image


the rotated image

The backside of all the cards

Putting this post together was a lot of work, but perhaps it will compel you to come back after my murderous deadline to see many more goodies yet to come.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In the Witch's Wood

John Duncan's Celtic mythology paintings are a delight, but it's also delightful to come across an out-and-out faerie painting by him. His work here is a bit reminiscent of fellow Scotsman Sir Joseph Noel Paton's famous faerie paintings.

This is an illustration of two lovers, Yorinda and Yoringel wandering through the woods, enthralled with each other, and oblivious to the circle of good faeries dancing around them who are helpless in protecting the two from the forces of darkness ahead of them.

Love can do that to you.

John Duncan — Yorinda and Yoringel in the Witch's Wood — 1909



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time and the Elements

Paul Manship — Time & the Dancing Hours

If Earth is ever represented in a Galactic Exposition of Cultures, I hope that Paul Manship's timeless Art Deco work will be integrated into the architectural wonders that we will erect.

Above is a sublime bronze sun dial, and below we see the Four Elements, bas-relief bronze plaques, inspired by themes in the ancient Tower of the Winds.





Modern Mystical Master

One by a great modern mystical master—John Howe:

Oops, I was posting fast and loose, and shooting from the hip when I earlier credited this to Alan Lee—when it was really John Howe. They worked together on LoTR and they seem an extension of each other in my addlepated state of mind. Thanks Larry and Eoghan.

I've changed the credit on the file title, but those of you who may have downloaded this image prior, might want to change the credit tag on the file. My apologies to Howe and Lee.

More Than a Fashion Illustrator

Here's a bit more of the work of George Stavrinos, representing the fact that he considered himself more than a fashion illustrator. I had saved a lot of his illustrations in the past, but somehow I've misplaced them and haven't seen them in the longest time.

George Stavrinos — Meryl Streep

George Stavrinos — Kissinger and Nixon —

Saturday, February 19, 2011

En l'an 2000

And while we're on the subject of the future of flying, here are a few visions of the year 2000, from the early 1900s. Perhaps in some alternate universe all of this has come to be. I envy them.