Saturday 31 December 2011

31. December - Silvester

"Das Jahr neigt sich zu Ende...."

I like to allow the year to nicely fade away
with a few blues notes....



Thanks to each and every one of you
for an interesting and lovely blogging-year.

May  2012  be a wonderful and prosperous year
filled with good health and happiness for all.

Bonne Année!

Frohes Neues Jahr!

Sunday 25 December 2011

My Music on Christmas Day....

Apart from J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio,

 my favorite Christmas Day music... Mozart's Coronation Mass


  Agnus Dei
with Herbert von Karajan,
the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,
the Wiener Singverein
and Kathleen Battle
1985 in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome

All my best wishes for a lovely Christmas Day,


May your day be crowned with joy and happiness!

3. Image - Tongue in Cheek
4. Image - Alhambra Antiques

Saturday 24 December 2011

Heiligabend - and Christmas Greetings


Baroque Creche from 1704
in Gutenzell, Oberschwaben, South Germany


HIVÄÄ  JOULUA  to Finland
NOLLAIG  SHONA  to Ireland
GOD JUL  to Skandinavia
FELIZ  NATAL  to Portugal
FELIZ  NAVIDAD  to Spain and South America
Shèng dàn kuài lè  to China

and to the whole world...


Friday 23 December 2011

And tomorrow is Christmas!

Still, still, still,
weil's Kindlein schlafen will.

Die Englein tun schön jubilieren,
Bei dem Kripplein musizieren,


 The Concert of Angels - 1534-36
 Gaudenzio Ferrari
Northern Italian painter and sculptor of the Renaissance (c.1471 - 1546)

Fresco in Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Saronno, Italy

Still, still, still,
Weil's Kindlein schlafen will.

Schlaf, schlaf, schlaf!
Mein liebes Kindlein schlaf!
Maria tut dich niedersingen
und ihr treues Herz darbringen....

Schlaf, schlaf, schlaf!
Mein liebes Kindlein schlaf!

Sleep - sleep - sleep! Only one more night...

...denn einmal werden wir noch wach, Heissa, dann ist Weihnacht da!

1. Image: Bode-Museum Berlin
last 2 Images: Cote Sud 1997

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Dino and Frankie Boy....

I love 'Evergreens'

"Memories are made of this...."

And I love these 'Boy's,  they were pretty good!


* * * *

Best wishes for a jolly good week!

Let it snow.....let it snow....let it snow...
...for a white Christmas!

Sunday 18 December 2011

Advent Reflection

 Besinnliche Minuten 
zum 4. Adventssonntag

Take time, slow down, be still
in the very midst of the busy preparations for Christmas,
and enjoy

Frederic Chopin


Thank you all so much for your lovely comments
and your best wishes regarding Oskar!

I shall light the candles for you
and wish you a wonderful 4th Advent Sunday!


Piano Concerto no. 1 in E minor
Opus 11, Movement 2-Romance (Larghetto)
Alexis Weissenberg (piano)
Conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Dear All.....

As you may have noticed since I'm back from Germany I've slowed down on posting.
For several reasons due to pressure of things from what I've had to look after here at La Pouyette.
So, I've been spending very little time on my desk
and just skimming quickly through the blog world from time to time.
Which means that I'm now far behind with writing comments
to all of your interesting posts with beautiful Christmas themes, decorations and images.
Sorry about that.

And then.....

...last week our Oskar had a serious accident which has involved major surgery
and hospitalisation in Bordeaux. We brought him home 4 days ago
 and we have to give him full attention throughout the day for at least the next 6 to 8 weeks.
The poor chap is not allowed out to roam around the garden and fields,
he feels very deprived and, apart from his pains, is not amused at all being a "prisoner",
neither are we! 

I will try to be back before Christmas.
Meanwhile, warmest wishes to all of you,

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Some Enchanted Evening.....

The inaugural party.... Tina's beautiful new home on December 23rd.

The Enchanted Home


My outfit:
...casual elegance...

GIORGIO  ARMANI  -  if I could!

The forecast is for snow - I've been told....
so, I need my large cashmere scarf,

and to stand around for hours....comfortable (!!!)  Italian shoes.
 To complete my outfit...
a mother of pearl bracelet,

 this clutch bag and...
vintage ear clips, designed by Jil Sander in the 1980's

Knowing that Tina loves "Blue and White"...  'opening present' would be 
this pair of small Japanese dishes from the 1920's

A toast to your home, Tina!


"Jeder sieht ein Stueckchen Welt, gemeinsam sehen wir die ganze"

Each of us sees a part of the world;
together we see all of it.

Let's party!

A special thanks to Marsha from
who initiated and organized this event with great effort!

Looking forward to see you all!

Monday 5 December 2011

St. Nicholas Day - Nikolaustag

Creation by Kathy Avakian - PillowBeach

Each year on December 6, German children celebrate 'Nikolaustag'.

Saint Nicholas "Lipensky", 1294 Russian icon

The true story begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara.
At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey.
His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian,
died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young.
Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor",
Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.
He dedicated his life to serving God and was made
Bishop of Myra while still a young man.  Bishop Nicholas became known
throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children,
and his concern for sailors and ships.
He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church.

Painting by Utrahec  (wikipedia)

Stories about St. Nicholas were first told while he was living,
as sailors already claimed him as their patron saint.  Sailing to different ports and along rivers,
they carried Nicholas stories throughout Europe.  As stories were told and retold,
imaginative and sometimes miraculous details were added -
details which vary in different accounts of the same episode.
Only a unique and special person inspires such a rich legacy.
These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character
and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters:
In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value - a dowry.
The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband.
Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry.  This poor man's daughters
were therefore destined to be sold into slavery.  Mysteriously, on three different occasions,
 a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries.
  The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, 
are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry.....

 The dowry for the three virgins
Gentile da Fabriano, c. 1425, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome

....This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes,
eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.
Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls,
 sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas.
And so St. Nicholas - unser guter lieber Nikolaus - is a gift-giver.

St. Nicholas, created by the highly talented  Daryl McMahon
to see more please visit his blog:     here 

Creation by  Daryl McMahon

In Germany, children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel (Nikolaus boot),
or a stocking, outside the front door on the night of 5 December.
St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight, and at the same time
 checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year.
If they were not, they will have a tree branch (Rute) in their boots instead,
though shoes or stockings will suffice for those without boots.


Beautiful creations of Christmas stockings....
each one unique and original....

....made of old German grain sacks and French textiles
by  Kathy Avakian - PillowBeach
available at Etsy:      here

So, all you "Girls" and "Boys".....
don't forget to get your shoes or stockings out this evening,
St. Nicholas is waiting for you!

Wednesday 30 November 2011


...par excellence
in this entrance hall of a Swedish mansion of the Baroque era,
1640 - 1720

The walls are painted with trompe l'oeil pilasters and shadowy landscapes
while the ceilings under the stairs are painted in grisaille
to imitate the bas-relief of Classical friezes.

Isn't it beautiful?
I love it!  Never get tired to look at it...

"The impact of Italian Baroque and French Absolutism"

From the wonderful book  THE  SWEDISH  ROOM
by Lars and Ursula Sjöberg and Ingalill Snitt

to be continued...

Monday 28 November 2011

Week 48 - Fashion in the 17th Century

Prince Charles Louis, Count Palatine, about 1637

Studio of Anthony van Dyck, 1599 - 1641
National Gallery, London


"A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic"
George Bernhard Shaw

True?  What do you think?

Bonne Semaine!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Old Master's Autumn

Guiseppe Arcimboldo, 1527 - 1593
"....perfect in his uniqueness, as are only the great".

Autumn, 1573
Musee National du Louvre, Paris

A broken old tub is held together by some wicker branches in a somewhat make shift arrangement, 
and a head protrudes from it. It is the head of a rather rough sort of fellow,  and is made up of autumn produce.

His bulbous nose is a juicy pear, his healthy-looking cheek is a ripe apple, his chin is a pomegranate and his ear is a large mushroom, which could be a russula. It seems appropriate that the ear-ring should be an over-ripe, burst fig.    His head is crowned with red and white grapes, reddish vine-leaves and a gigantic squash,   thus reminding us of Arcimboldo's earlier depictions of Baccus.

The sumptuousness of the fruit is an indication of the fertility of autumn, and the sharp tongue which comes through the prickly lips seems to signal Autumn's joyful anticipation of culinary delights.


As in "The four seasons", in the series of "The four elements"
Arcimboldo assigned to any element a face formed by the most characteristic of any of them.

In addition, this series has an evident connection with "The four seasons".
Both series are organised by a hypothetical "axis of symmetry",
confronting the air with the spring, the summer with the fire,
and the autumn with the earth.

Earth, around 1570
Private collection, Vienna

...a head which consists of over forty different animals...

The ibex, an animal which lives in the Tyrolean mountains, has been inserted in the back of the neck,
together with the rhinoceros, the mule, the monkey, the bear and the wild boar.
 Above the forehead are the camel, the lion and the horse.
And the nice thing is that all the animals with antlers have arranged their weapons around the forehead,
thus forming a king's crown:  that was an amazingly clever idea,and it decorates the head very nicely, too.
The area behind the cheek (the head being in profile)
is formed by an elephant whose ear is large enough to be the ear of the whole figure.
A donkey underneath the elephant fills out the lower jaw.
For the front portion of the cheek a wolf was forced to render its service, its mouth wide open and about to snap at a mouse: its open mouth is the eye, and the mouse the pupil of the eye.
The tail and the leg of the mouse form a moustache just above the upper lip.
On the forehead, sitting among the other animals, there is a fox with its tail curled up, which forms the eyebrow.
There is a hare on the wolf's shoulder, forming the nose, and a cat's head which is the upper lip.
Instead of a chin there is a tiger, held up by the elephant's trunk. The trunk is rolled up and forms the lower lip of the figure's mouth. A lizard can be seen coming out of the open mouth.
The curvature of the entire neck is formed by a recumbent ox, together with a fawn."


"I think if there are buffoons today, then that is nothing new.
There have always been eccentrics who were probably also buffoons.
But there is an important difference:
if nowadays someone suddenly discovers the genius in him,
even though yesterday he could not even draw, then that seems a bit insincere to me.
When, on the other hand, the early pioneers discovered beauty in ugliness or vice versa,
they were in fact faultless masters of their craft and, partly because they were relative beginners,
had a certain straightforwardness about them.  And because they were straightforward,
they were original.  Indeed, this ugliness surpassed all beauty and included
the sort of satire that delighted the artist's customer,
the jokes that were told again and again among the bored inhabitants of the various courts,
it included those optical illusions and that artistic mimicry.
All this is just one more reason why it is worthwhile spending time and effort
to studying a painter who was indeed a genius,
who used to entertain three emperors at the time of Titian and Tintoretto
and who still entertains us today."
who published in 1954 his extremely thorough analysis
I dipinti ghiribizzosi di Giuseppe Arcimboldi

 Autumn, 1572
Private collection, Berlin

This picture of Autumn differs from the one in the Louvre
through its sharp contrasts of light and darkness.
Some of the grapes, for instance, are almost black,
whereas the face is generally very bright indeed.
The change of format is made necessary by the tub,
which is longer than in the other picture.
What is particularly striking, however, is the relatively light background,
which is rare in Arcimboldo's art.
Beyond that, there are only very few differences.
The level of artistic quality is the same in both paintings.


H A P P Y    T H A N K S G I V I N G !

Arcimboldo's  "Spring"   here
Arcimboldo's  "Summer"  here
Arcimboldo's biography and Benno Geiger  here 

Tuesday 22 November 2011

A truly authentic Country Look - Une Ferme Alsacienne

'Des edredons en kelsh ancien dans la chambre,
des poteries de Soufflenheim dans la cuisine,
des poêles du XVIII. siecle dans la stube et des coffres un peu partout:
Un Musée d'art populaire quelque part en Alsace?
Non, une ferme des  adossées aux Vosges,
habitée, pensée, parée par un couple d'Antiquaire inspirés.'

An old farm house in the Alsace, East France, on the foot hill of the Vosges mountains,
not far from Strasbourg, just opposite of  the Black Forest on the western side of the Rhine.

Charmingly decorated and interiored by Bernard and Christine Demay,
a couple of passionate Antiquaires.

Found this in an older issue of  COTE  EST
and thought it will nicely round-out my previous posts of the Black Forest region.

Because I do have quite a number of francophile readers I've left the original text in French.

'Vue plongeante sur la stube d'hiver, chaleureuse et recuellie autour de son poêle en fonte.
Du sol au plafond, le bois est omniprésent.
Original, le séchoir ancien accroché à l'une des poutres.'
(the old drying rail fixed to one of the beams above the cast iron stove)

La Ferme...
  same architectural style as in the Black Forest region

'....on y découvre des coffres polychromes (painted trunks) qui n'ont plus très bonne mine,
des bahuts (buffets) mis à mal par les ans...'

On the ground floor:

La stube d'hiver  (the 'winter room')....
' du canapé, une vue de Strasbourg et des cartes anciennes.
A l'extrème gauche, une corniche surplombe des portraits fixés sous verre,
 typiques de la région et présente une série de bocks de bière...'

'Le coins repas avec les bancs habillés de kelsh (benches with cushions of old kelsch linen)
et les traditionnelles chaises alsaciennes,
( in the Black Forest region and Southern Germany we call these chairs "Stabellen- or Brezelstuehle")

' ...une maison bien campée sur ses poutre...'

La Cuisine....
'...s'ouvre sur le jardin et, l'été, la fenètre encadrée par des huiliers de Bercksdorf,
sert de passe-plat, puisque la table et juste en dessous!
Panier à escargots, poêle à châtaignes, râpes à fromage sont suspendus au plafond,
tandis qu'un petit rideau en kelsh cache la poubelle....'

'....bel ouvrage que cet escalier de meunier qui mène aux chambres....'

The original beautiful staircase leading to the bed rooms, bath room
La stube d'èté  (the 'summer room')
...avec un écritoire (an 18th century writing table) Louis XVI.
et des fauteuils Louis XIII.  (early 18th chairs)...
Sur l'étagère dans un joli dégradé de bleus, un collection de pots à lait à petit pois,
à fleurettes et naives volutes.
(on the shelve a collection of old milk jars, typical for the region)


La chambre d'amis  (the guest room).....
'...avec son extraordinaire ciel-de-lit en sapin.....
...Ici, on ne dort pas dans autre chose que du kelsh!
Par terre, un sac de blé qui arbore l'année de la récolte et sa provenance....'

"...L'amour des objets est le véritable moteur des ces antiquaires-restaurateurs dans l'âme.
Dans la quitétude e leurs granges, Bernard retape tandis Christine repeint.
Leur plus grand bonheur?
Rendre à un coffre polychrome du XVIIIeme siecle,
remanié maintes et maintes fois, ses couleurs d'origine....."

- all images and text  COTE  EST, 2000 -


Now...what is Kelsh ?

The word itself, 'kelsch' in allemanic dialect, originates from "Koelnisch Blau",
'Bleu de Cologne'  -  'Cologne Blue'.
It refers to a plant grown as animal feed, and whose leaves and stems
were the sources of an intense blue dye.  As early as the 7th Century,
the plant, along with hemp and linen, was the main crop
cultivated in eastern France and neighboring Germany.
From the 16th Century through to the 19th Century, the word 'kelsch'
 came to describe the hand-woven linen and hemp cloths made by the rural peasantry.

Kelsch denotes a plain weave in linen or hemp with checks or stripes
in ecru and blue, or ecru and red, or the three shades combined.
Blue came from the woad and later indigo, and red from madder.

  It is said that Charlemagne, Karl der Grosse, the Franken King,
who resided in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) in the 7th century, 
 recommended these cloths and commended the use of linen and hemp.
Since then, in Alsace, Black Forest and the Upper Rhine region,
they have adhered to the tradition of making plain weave in these three shades.

These pieces of cloth, one plain bottom, one patterned top,
where tightly whipstitched together on three sides. Linen ribbons, appliqued to the open edge
  of the envelope after the three sides of the finished piece were joined,
kept the feather or straw lining, crudely in place.  Vents cut into the cloth
or formed by leaving the corners of the kelsch open,
which allowed the family to stir the stuffing with their hands, thus keeping it well distributed.

19th Century Alsace kelsch linen plaid or duvet cover, 56" x 65"
and a large pillow or bolster sham, 45" x 29" 

Large 19th century sham, Black Forest

Late 19th Century Alsace and early 20th Century Black Forest  kelsch


All linen kelsch shown here is from my own collection
and now for sale,
should you be interested on any piece, just drop me a mail.

(detail of an 18th century polychrome trunk)

Bonne Semaine !

for further info about "Kelsch" and/or any inquiries please  contact