Showing posts from January, 2012

Gustav-Adolf Mossa (1883-1971)

Gustav-Adolf Mossa was born in Nice, the son of Alexis Mossa (1844-1926), himself an artist of numerous posters for the Nice Carnaval at the end of the 19th century.

Influenced by his father, Gustav-Adolf began painting in 1903, drawing his inspiration from the Quattrocento of the early Renaissance in Italy, the Pre-Raphaelites in England and Art Nouveau movement in France. Then, after 15 years of intense creativity, he suddenly abandoned painting completely, with most of his paintings only coming to light after his death.

A collection of 38 of his humorous and often decadent works are on display at Nice's Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

Gustave Caillebotte was a man of substance, in addition to being a great artist. 

Born into an upper class Parisian family, he had both wealth and high standing, inheriting the family textile business, as well as practising law and even serving as a judge. He was a qualified engineer, and as a soldier campaigned in the ill-fated Franco-Prussian war which led to the collapse of the Second Empire and the creation of the Third Republic in 1870.

He began painting after the war, and in 1876 became an active member in the ranks of the impressionists, contributing as an artist, but also as a patron, due to his personal wealth.

In 1877 Caillebotte painted his Jour de pluie à Paris, a charming street scene on the Place de Dublin, not far from the Place de Clichy and the Gare St. Lazare train station. The painting became one of the main attractions at the Third Impressionist Exhibition in Paris.

His other works include a quasi-photographic picture of a young man standing at a window. The location t…

Aberrant Apostrophe (aka Greengrocer's Apostrophe aka Little Flying Commas)

Thou whoreson apostrophe! Thou unnecessary punctuation![With apologies to Shakespeare]
Until his death in 2009, English novelist and newspaper columnist Keith Waterhouse fought a never-ending battle against the use of the aberrant apostrophe, spreading through common English usage like an outbreak of flu.

The usage consists of placing an apostrophe in a substantive noun or number with the aim of making it into a plural. Thus we see 1960's used to mean Nineteen Sixties, rather than the correct 1960s.

The use of this rough punctuation began among immigrant workers in Liverpool for whom English was an acquired language, and is also known as the greengrocer's apostrophe as it is often seen on fruit and vegetables e.g. Apple's, Pear's, Banana's.

As self appointed Life President of the Association for the Annihilation of the Aberrant Apostrophe (AAAA) Keith Waterhouse hated the usage and claimed to have had an apostrophe incinerator in his back garden. While another advocate…

Louis Daguerre, Queen Victoria, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, The Beatles. Boulevard du Temple, Abbey Road, #womanontheleft, Hugh Grant and the year of the world elsewhere 1838

The year 1838 was - in some ways - a good year. In England Queen Victoria's penny-pinching coronation took place, and the paddle steamer SS Great Western, built by the magnificently named Isambard Kingdom Brunel, made its inaugural transatlantic crossing in just 15 days. In the same year a London pedestrian walked backwards for 20 miles, and then forwards for 20 miles, in order to prove (perhaps) the impossibility of him not doing so (or because he was a loony). Meanwhile, a stone's throw away in the French capital, Louis Daguerre pointed his daguerreotype invention at the Boulevard du Temple in the 3rd arrondisement, and in a space of ten minutes (the length of the exposure), made one of the modern world's most memorable images, comparable with the Beatles on Abbey Road, and #womanontheleft ogling Hugh John Mungo Grant and  smiling kittenishly at the name Mungo.(Controversial - and pathetic comparisons, for which grovelling apologies!!!)

Daguerre's image is probably th…

666: the Number of the Beast; and other sacred numbers.

WARNING! This posting contains religious content.

In ancient times, when the gods were seen as a vital influence in human affairs, and when inexplicable natural phenomena were considered for their psychic effect on the population, there existed a literary canon of sacred numbers of which 666 and 1080 were the most prominent.

These numbers each had a correspondence within the canon, the number 1080 corresponding with the Moon, the intuition, the unconscious mind and the female aspect, and its opposition, the number 666, corresponding with the Sun, the intellect and the will, and the generative power of the male. (On its own the number 6 corresponded with the cosmos,)

666, however, is also the number in Revelation, the apocalyptic work of St. John the Divine, and the cause of much embarrassment to the Catholic Church, by its inclusion, at the insistence of gnostic heretics, in the scriptural canon.

Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man;…

What's new, pussycat?

Nothing is too daunting if we can see the funny side.

BREAKING NEWS! Great Fire Sweeps Across London! Prominent citizen Mr Samuel Pepys gives an eyewitness account of the dreadful conflagration.

- Breaking news on this Lord’s Day, the second of September, 1666. In the early hours of the morning, in the Blackfriars district of the capital, not far from the Tower, a great fire broke out, and even as we speak is raging out of control, devouring everything that lies in its path. Not far from the epicentre of the tragedy, from his house in Seething Lane, the whole sad drama was witnessed by Senior Admiralty Official, Mr Samuel Pepys, who joins us now. Tell us what you saw, Sam? I believe it was your maid Jane who alerted to you to the terrible conflagration?

- Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose and slipped on my nightgowne, and went to her window, and thought it to be on the backside of Marke-lane at the farthest; but being unused to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough off; and so went to bed again…

- (laughs) You went to bed again? Sam, are you telling us you went to be again? What happened next?

- Abo…

Théodore Géricault - The Raft of the Medusa (Le Radeau de la Méduse)

1815 and Louis XVIII is installed once more on the French throne following the final abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte. In the same year, as part of the peace settlement with Great Britain, the West African country of Senegal is returned to French colonial rule. 

June 1816, the French naval frigate Méduse, a four-mast frigate, sets sail for the Senegalese port of Saint-Louis. Aboard is the colony's new governor, Colonel Schmaltz, together with his family and more than 400 passengers. Three other naval vessels accompany the Méduse, the whole flotilla under the command of one Duroy de Chaumarey, an inexperienced officer who has not navigated for over 20 years. 

The Méduse is the fastest and most modern vessel in the French naval fleet. Very quickly it outpaces two of the accompanying vessels. Only the Echo, a corvette, remains in touch. Then, on the night of the 1st to the 2nd of July, the Echo signals the Médusa by lantern to warn that they are too close to the shore. The officer on t…

Pont des Arts, Paris

The Pont des Arts in the heart of Paris is a pedestrian bridge which connects the Institut de France, the home of the French Academy, with the courtyard of the Louvre palace. 

The original bridge was constructed between 1801-1804 and was the first metal bridge in the French capital. On the day of its inauguration 65,000 Parisians turned up to pay their 2 sous toll to use the bridge to cross the river.

In 1929 the Hungarian born photographer André Kertész, in one of his most startling pictures of Paris, photographed the bridge through the clock face of Institut de France. And during the Second World War the bridge was the clandestine meeting place of Jacques Lecompte-Boinet and members of the resistance movement known as Ceux de la Résistance (Those of the Resistance). It was here also that copies of publications of Editions de Minuit, the clandestine publisher founded by Jean Bruller, known as Vercros, were passed to Lecompte-Boinet for General de Gaulle.

In 1977 the bridge was closed af…

Harry "Hipster" Gibson - Who's Going Steady With Who?

Harry "The Hipster" Gibson was a flamboyant singer-songwriter and pianist at his peak in the 1940s with his unusual and whacky songs, such as Get Your Juices at the Deuces; Handsome Harry the Hipster; Who put the Benzadrine in Mrs Murphy's Ovaltine; and our all-time favourite Who's Going Steady With Who?

So far as we know, the full lyrics of Who's Going Steady With Who? are not on the Internet. But now they are.....


     Now there's a funny situation in our neighbourhood
     I hope I'm able to make myself understood
     It's about the boys and girls down the avenue
     The question is Who's going steady with who?

     Well right now...
     I'm going steady with Betty
     And Betty's going steady with me
     Now Betty used to run around with little Eddie
     But Eddie broke her heart, you see.
     I was very shy with Vi
     Beside Eddie he was the apple of her eye
     And Betty's big brother Freddie
     He d…