Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Concrete Thought

...in a concrete shade?  Proto-Amy Winehouse hairdo, attentive and intelligent poodle, flowery artist's smock, fake plants and an easel: what more could one ask.  Was this early 1960s publicity postcard a one-off or did other concrete-block manufacturers of the era also favor such alluring promotional material? 

Fascinating how the pattern repeated in the blocks evokes both the swastika and the 'radioactive' warning signs of the Cold War.  My elementary school had such signs, yellow and black, in every room.  Go to nearest fallout shelter at once.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Two Silhouettes, One Hundred Years Apart

Two recent acquisitions.  The first shows a British soldier in profile, WWI vintage.  His head is cut out of black paper and has been glued on the card.  An actual silhouette, in other words.

The second is in turn a representation of a silhouette: the poet Goethe, Werther-like, contemplating the image of a young woman.  The portrait itself is by Georg Melchior Kraus (1737-1806).  Interesting how Goethe always looks like the same person no matter who is drawing or painting him: he must have been a fairly distinctive physical type.  As opposed, say, to Keats, who looks very different from portrait to portrait.  On the (few) Keats images, see the marvelous study Posthumous Keats, by Stanley Plumly.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Too Await You

Alas, a JPEG can't do justice to this awesome card: not only is the woman *embossed* her fetching black top is rendered using some strange, velvety-feeling paper. (Or is it thin fabric?)  Something with a pile.

One of those photographs where the more you look at it the less and less photograph-like it becomes.  The backdrop would seem to be false or else painted over, judging by the chalet.  Only when you look at the woman's hands--and possibly the details of the face--do you 'intuit' the photograph that at some point must have been taken.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

John Wordsworth---

----the distinguished Bishop of Salisbury, 1885-1911.

A nice old English cabinet card (though the right arm looks a bit peculiar).  Grand-nephew of William Wordsworth, to whom he would seem to bear only a slight resemblance.  Indeed:  imagine said Reverend with tight synthetic jersey top in place of vestments, a shaved nearly-bald head, and sporting an aerodynamically designed bicycle helmet and you realize this is actually Lance Armstrong in clerical drag.

Did a few odd reworkings the other day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Another former denizen of Cecil Court.  Classic indeed clich├ęd subject but starkly composed and the pale purply chromo-lithography is lovely.  How can one not adore the tiny camel lower right?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Funeral Week

February 1952: The Princess Elizabeth on the way to the funeral of her father George VI.   (Marked up press photo.)  I first saw this haunting image in the recently published  facsimile of Cecil Beaton's scrapbooks.

Here for my uncle's funeral.  London cold and sunny today, New Year's Day.  Chatting with a lady in an antiquarian print shop on Cecil Court: mad as a hatter.  She kept complaining about 'people who didn't understand her shop' and 'didn't belong.'  She had hundreds of old postcards of Marie Studholme --every one that had ever been printed, it seemed.  Alas, I'm afraid I did understand her shop.