Wednesday 24 December 2014


....were ever YOU are.

Angels singing sweetly through the night....

„Gloria in excelsis Deo, in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis“


Frohe Weihnachten to the world:

Gezur Krislinjden - Albania
Tchestita Koleda - Bulgaria
Glædelig Jul - Denmark
Hyvää Joulua - Finland
Joyeux Noël - France
Καλά Χριστούγεννα - Greece
Nollaig Shona Dhuit - Ireland
Buone Feste Natalizie - Italy
メリークリスマスMerii Kurisumasu - Japan
聖誕節同新年快樂 Canton-China
크리스마스를 축하합니다 –  Korea
Sretan Božić - Croatia
聖誕快樂 新年快樂  Mandarin-China
Zalig Kerstfeest - Netherlands
God Jul - Scandinavia
Maligayan Pasko - Philippines
Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia - Poland
Feliz Natal - Portugal
Sarbatori vesele - Roumania
Поздравляю с Новым годом и Рождеством - Russia
Feliz Navidad - Spain
Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok - Tschechien
Noeliniz kutlu olsun - Turkey
Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket kívánok nektek - Hungary


the time of giving and sharing, 
and the time of loving and forgiving

 May the miracle of Christmas fill your hearts with warmth and love.



 PEACE on EARTH and goodwill towards men.



Wednesday 10 December 2014

"By Invitation Only" - December 2014

"Christmas-Gift Giving
if Money is no Object......"

that's the subject of this month's BIO post

I'm running late with this post.....
....running just a bit out of time.... 
preparing homemade little presents which are always appreciated

Nevertheless - if money would be no object
I would shop for my best friends and family members 

Frank Smythson Ltd.
more simply known as Smythson, of Bond Street
is a British manufacturer of luxury stationery, leather goods, diaries
and fashion products based in London, England.

Smythson opened his first shop on 29 September 1887 at 133, New Bond Street, London. 
The current flagship store is located at 40 New Bond Street, London. 
Clients have included the current Royal Family, Queen Victoria and many other now deceased royals, 
many UK Politicians and Prime Ministers, Sir Edmund Hillary, Madonna, and Grace Kelly 
(and many other well known clients - as well unknown ones like me :-).

Stationary Bureau

Printed brown calf leather. Gold brass hardware. Six pockets. Blotter.
Two sheets of White Wove blotting paper.
Wafer Address and Telephone book. Black ink pot.
50 sheets of Kings Cream Wove writing paper.
50 Kings Cream Wove correspondence cards.
25 matching envelopes.
£ 1 525


Frank Smythson made history in 1908 when he created the world's first practical, portable diary.
From its stitched spine and supple leather binding to the clean,
crisp leaves of Featherweight paper and glint of gold,
Frank's original design remains virtually unchanged to this day.

2015 Portobello Diary   
250 £ right  -  £ 210 left


2015 Soho Diary - £ 230
Berry diary bound in printed calf leather. Enamelled gold-finish slide
Week-to-view layout with notes page
End notes
Gilt-edged, pale blue Featherweight paper.
Slip pocket

all available here:

‘I never travel without my diary. 
One should always have something sensational to read on the train’.
Oscar Wilde.


Gentlemen's Accessory Box

Printed brown calf leather. Nubuck calf leather lined. Brass fittings
Compartments for jewellery and dressing accessories;
form small sections for cufflinks and collar stiffeners,
to a drawer with 4 watch pillows.
 £ 1 525



Back to "earth".....
got to rush to finish - rap and pack
 my homemade/handcrafted gifts

Socks - knitted my "thoughts" into....


Home-baked Christmas cookies....

....hand-picked/-collected and -cracked walnuts from our garden....

...filled into old French jam glasses...

...nearly ready to be rapped in cellophane,
provided with a little bunch of Myrtle, Rosemary, 
twigs of our yew tree and with lovely ribbons.
And - plenty more to create - to do....


As wonderful as it can be to buy and give (and to receive!) luxurious presents
when "money is no object"
at the end
the point of a gift should be to let someone know that one is thinking of him or her.
It's not to show how much the friendship matters by spending a lot of money.
Most the time, during my whole life, I don't buy presents - 
I just invest thoughts, my heart and give my time. 

Talking about "time" - 
now I've got to dash off.....
running late - not only with this post....
...also with rapping and packing....and.... 
....creating more little presents


Please visit Marsha to read all interesting posts of our BIO-Group,
posts about gift ideas, funny ones, 
luxurious ones....and....and....

By Invitation Only


In this sense....
My best wishes to all of you for a lovely Pre-Christmas time.
Stay cool - keep warm - wherever you are!



Sorry, cannot resist to finish this post with a quote:

 "But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy something, 
which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith's." 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 
"Gifts," Essays, Second Series, 1844

Thursday 27 November 2014

Thanksgiving Greetings

Willem van Aelst, 16 May 1627 – in or after 1683


Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain.

~Alexander Pope
(21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744)

German "Erntedankfest"

Remember God's bounty in the year. 
String the pearls of His favor. 
Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light! 
Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude! 
~Henry Ward Beecher


Monday 24 November 2014

On a gray November Monday....




"Chop that wood....
Carry water
What's the sound of one hand clapping
Enlightenment, don't know what it is

Every second, every minute
It keeps changing to something different...

...Enlightenment, don't know what it is

It says it's non attachment....."

".....I'm in the here and now, and I'm meditating....."

...last roses at La Pouyette... 3 little buds at the end of November...

".....Wake up....

 .....Enlightenment says the world is nothing
Nothing but a dream, everything's an illusion
And nothing is real....."

"....You can change it anyway you want
You can rearrange it...."

 Van Morrison

like to dedicate the music to 
our dear blogger friend and painter Helen Tilston


go raibh maith aga 
simply  THANK YOU !


And by the way....

150th Birthday of:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 
24 November 1864 – 9 September 1901

 "At the Moulin Rouge"
 Self-portrait in the crowd,1892


Photographer:  Guibert, circa 1887

"I paint things as they are, I don't comment"


only a few of my favorite paintings:

A Box at the Theater, 1896


The Laundress, 1884 - 1886

Upon seeing a mysterious, untamed young woman with glowing red hair
while exiting a restaurant somewhere on the streets of Paris about the year 1884,
Toulouse-Lautrec exclaimed to his friend:
“She’s a stunner! What an air of spoiled meat she has! 
It would be so marvelous to get her as a model!”

Later he finally caught up to her, the woman known as Carmen Gaudin,
a laundress and prostitute that Toulouse-Lautrec tirelessly depicted in many different settings and media.
Referring to Carmen in a letter written to his mother in 1884,
Toulouse-Lautrec gushed that he was  
"painting a woman whose hair is absolute gold".

La Toilette, 1889

Redhead reveals the artist’s debt to Degas,
but instead of the ungainly figures found in Degas’ pastels,
Toulouse-Lautrec has created a beautiful, slender figure with her back to the viewer
and her rich red hair tied in a knot.
The artist had a predilection for red-headed models and it has been proposed
that his favourite model, Carmen Gaudin, sat also for this particular painting.

Toulouse-Lautrec gave painting lessons 
to Suzanne Valadon, one of his models 
(and possibly his mistress as well). 
Suzanne Valadon - see also my post from september 2011


In Bed, 1893

"Love is when the desire to be desired takes you so badly 
that you feel you could die of it"
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec 


"I have tried to do what is true and not ideal"
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec 

I raise my glass to that!

Sláinte - CHEERS!
Toulouse-Lautrec was drawn to Montmartre, an area of Paris famous for its bohemian lifestyle and for being the haunt of artists, writers, and philosophers. Tucked deep into Montmartre was the garden of Monsieur Pere Foret where Toulouse-Lautrec executed a series of pleasant plein-air paintings of Carmen Gaudin, the same red-head model who appears in The Laundress (1888). When the nearby Moulin Rouge cabaret opened its doors, Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned to produce a series of posters. Thereafter, the cabaret reserved a seat for him, and displayed his paintings. Among the well-known works that he painted for the Moulin Rouge and other Parisian nightclubs are depictions of the singer Yvette Guilbert; the dancer Louise Weber, known as the outrageous La Goulue ("The Glutton"), who created the "French Can-Can"; and the much more subtle dancer Jane Avril.
Toulouse-Lautrec spent much time in brothels, where he was accepted by the prostitutes and madams to such an extent that he often moved in, and lived in a brothel for weeks at a time. He shared the lives of the women who made him their confidant, painting and drawing them at work and at leisure.
Lautrec recorded their intimate relationships, which were often lesbian......
info source   here

Tuesday 11 November 2014

"By Invitation Only" - November 2014

The theme for this month's post:

"Describe one of the BEST days of your life so far."

Oh my! 
I've had - and still have - so many good days,
don't know where to start - where to end - which one to choose??

 I think the Best Day of my life is the day
"when I saw the light of day"
the day I was born 



"In the end, 
it's not going to matter how many breaths you took,


...but how many moments took your breath away"
shing xiong


To read and see the "Best day in life" of our friends in this group
please visit Marsha's blog

A bientôt....

Sunday 2 November 2014

All Souls

The first two days of November are Allerheiligen (Nov. 1) - All Saints
and Allerseelen (Nov. 2) - All Souls.

Related to Halloween
these two holy days are devoted to all of the saints (known and unknown) 
and to all of the “faithful departed,” respectively. 

In medieval English, All Saint's Day was known as All Hallows.
 All Hallows Eve (Oct. 31) came to be called “Halloween.”

Ruins of    
 All Saints' Abbey (Kloster Allerheiligen) 
which was a Premonstratensian monastery near Oppenau 
in the Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


All Soul's Day is always November 2,
it is a time when families fondly remember the deceased.

All Soul's Day, 1888
Jakub (or Jakob) Schikaneder 
(February 27, 1855, Prague – November 15, 1924, Prague)


 All Soul's Day is a day of remembrance 
for friends and loved ones who have passed away. 


This comes from the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, 
which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family. 
Candles in the window would guide the souls back home, and another place was set at the table. 
Children would come through the village, asking for food to be offered symbolically to the dead, 
then donated to feed the hungry. 

The traditions of the Feast of All Souls began independently of the Feast of All Saints
The Feast of All Souls owes its beginning to 7th century monks 
who decided to offer the mass on the day after Pentecost for their deceased community members. 
In the late 10th century, the Benedictine monastery in Cluny, France,
chose to move their mass for their dead to November 2, the day after the Feast of all Saints.
 This custom spread and in the 13th century, 
Rome put the feast on the calendar of the entire Church. 
The date remained November 2 
so that all in the Communion of the Saints might be celebrated together.



 Wish you all a peaceful and reflective Sunday.


Jacub Schikaneder:
Schikaneder came from the family of a German customs office clerk. Despite the family's poor background, he was able to pursue his studies, thanks in part to his family's love of art; an ancestor was Urban Schikaneder, the elder brother of the librettist Emanuel Schikaneder. After having completed his studies in Prague and Munich (1871–1879), Schikaneder, alongside Emanuel Krescenc Liška (cs), was involved in the furnishing of the royal box in the National Theatre in Prague; however, this work was lost in a fire in 1881. After his work in the National Theatre, Schikaneder travelled through Europe, visiting Germany, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and France. From 1891 until 1923 he taught in Prague's Art College. Schikaneder counted amongst those who admired the Munich School of the end of the 19th century.
He died in 1924 and was buried in Vinohrady Cemetery in Prague.
info source  here

Sunday 19 October 2014

John Singer Sargent... and a few October colors.....

 ....from green to red at La Pouyette


My yearly diaries come from the National Gallery, London
 2014 is a collection of nineteenth and early twentieth-century paintings.

Every week is provided by a stunning painting,
portraits, landscapes and still-lifes, 
produced during the most innovative and exiting periods in the history of art.

Week 41 - Third week of October:

Lord Ribblesdale (detail), 1902
National Gallery, London
John Singer Sargent, 1856-1925

"I don't dig beneath the surface for things
that don't appear before my own eyes"
John Singer Sargent

Self Portrait, 1906, oil on canvas,
Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

John Singer Sargent, the son of an American doctor, was born in Florence in 1856.
He studied painting in Italy and France and in 1884 caused a sensation
at the Paris Salon with his painting of Madame Gautreau.
Exhibited as Madame X, people complained that the painting was provocatively erotic.
The scandal persuaded Sargent to move to England
and over the next few years established himself as the country's leading portrait painter.
This included portraits of Joseph Chamberlain (1896), Frank Swettenham (1904) and Henry James (1913).
Sargent made several visits to the USA where as well as portraits
he worked on a series of decorative paintings for public buildings
such as the Boston Public Library (1890) and the Museum of Fine Arts (1916).

Madame X or Portrait of Madame X 
is the informal title of this portrait painting
of a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, wife of Pierre Gautreau

The model was an American expatriate who married a French banker,
and became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities.
She wore lavender powder and prided herself on her appearance.
Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent.
 It is a study in opposition. Sargent shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps,
 a dress that reveals and hides at the same time.
The portrait is characterized by the pale flesh tone of the subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background.
For Sargent, the scandal resulting from the painting's controversial reception at the Paris Salon of 1884
amounted to the failure of a strategy to build a long-term career as a portrait painter in France,
though it may have helped him establish a successful career in Britain and America.

Renowned for her beauty, Gautreau represented the parisienne,
a new type of Frenchwoman recognized for her sophistication.
The English-language term "professional beauty",
referring to a woman who uses personal skills to advance to elite status,
was also used to describe her.

Her unconventional beauty made her an object of fascination for artists;
the American painter Edward Simmons claimed that he "could not stop stalking her as one does a deer."
 Sargent was also impressed, and anticipated that a portrait of Gautreau
would garner much attention at the upcoming Paris Salon,
and increase interest in portrait commissions.
He wrote to a friend:
"I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. If you are 'bien avec elle' and will see her in Paris, you might tell her I am a man of prodigious talent."
Although she had refused numerous similar requests from artists,
Gautreau accepted Sargent's offer in February 1883.
Sargent was an expatriate like Gautreau, and their collaboration has been interpreted
as motivated by a shared desire to attain high status in French society.

 A figure study by Sargent in watercolor and graphite, c. 1883

Little progress was made during the winter of 1883,
as Gautreau was distracted by social engagements,
and was not by nature inclined to the discipline of sitting for a portrait.
At her suggestion, Sargent traveled to her estate in Brittany in June,
where he commenced a series of preparatory works in pencil, watercolors, and oils.
 About thirty drawings resulted from these sessions, in which many poses were attempted.........

......Just as she had been in Paris, in the country Gautreau was bored by the process of sitting;
here, too, there were social engagements,
as well as the responsibilities of tending to her four-year-old daughter,
 her mother, house guests, and a full domestic staff.
Sargent complained of "the unpaintable beauty and hopeless laziness of Madame Gautreau......
info source

John Singer Sargent in his studio with Portrait of Madame X, c. 1885


John Singer Sargent, January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925
considered the "leading portrait painter of his generation" for his evocations of Edwardian era luxury. 
During his career, he created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, 
as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. 
His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, 
the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.

His parents were American, but he was trained in Paris prior to moving to London
 Sargent enjoyed international acclaim as a portrait painter, 
although not without controversy and some critical reservation; 
an early submission to the Paris Salon, his "Portrait of Madame X", was intended to consolidate 
his position as a society painter, but it resulted in scandal instead. 

From the beginning his work was characterized by remarkable technical facility,
 particularly in his ability to draw with a brush, which in later years inspired admiration 
as well as criticism for a supposed superficiality. 
His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture,
 while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism.

In later life Sargent expressed ambivalence about the restrictions of formal portrait work, 
and devoted much of his energy to mural painting and working en plein air
He lived most of his life in Europe.


Sargent's best portraits reveal the individuality and personality of the sitters; 
his most ardent admirers think he is matched in this only by Velázquez, 
who was one of Sargent's great influences.

The Wyndham Sisters - 
Lady Elcho, Mrs. Adeane, and Mrs. Tenant

The Misses Vickers, 1884

The Spanish master's spell is apparent in 
Sargent's The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882
a haunting interior which echoes Velázquez' Las Meninas.

The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit', 1882 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


"Venetian wine shop" c. 1898
Private collection


 An Artist in His Studio, 1904
Museum of fine Arts, Boston


 Street in Venice,1882, Oil on panel
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
It has been suggested that the exotic qualities inherent in his work 
 appealed to the sympathies of the Jewish clients whom he painted from the 1890s on. 
Nowhere is this more apparent than in his portrait Almina, Daughter of Asher Wertheimer (1908), 
in which the subject is seen wearing a Persian costume, a pearl encrusted turban, 
and strumming an Indian sarod, accoutrements all meant to convey sensuality and mystery. 

Portrait of Almina Daughter of Asher Wertheimer

If Sargent used this portrait to explore issues of sexuality and identity, 
it seems to have met with the satisfaction of the subject's father, 
Asher Wertheimer, a wealthy Jewish art dealer living in London, 
who commissioned from Sargent a series of a dozen portraits of his family, 
the artist's largest commission from a single patron. 
The paintings reveal a pleasant familiarity between the artist and his subjects.
 Wertheimer bequeathed most of the paintings to the National Gallery.
Biography source:


Sargent painted a series of three portraits of Robert Louis Stevenson. 
The second,

 Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his Wife (1885), 
was one of his best known. 

He also completed portraits of two U.S. presidents: 
Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson


Sargent had Roosevelt hold his pose when he turned around with impatience
to address the artist while they were walking around the White House
surveying possible locations for the portrait.
Theodor Roosevelt, 1908

...The famous expatriate artist arrived in America in January 1903 
and soon received a letter from Roosevelt inviting him to live in the White House
 during the month of February to work on the portrait. . . .

....Together [Sargent and Roosevelt] toured the White House 
while Sargent looked for proper light and a good pose. . . . 

As Roosevelt led the way upstairs, so the story goes, he said:
"The trouble with you Sargent, is that you don't know what you want."
"No," replied the artist, 
"the trouble, Mr. President, is that you don't know what a pose means."
 Roosevelt turned sharply back, grasped the newel-post and snapped, 
"Don't I!" 
"Don't move an inch. You've got it now," responded Sargent. . .

(Notes from Kloss, William, et al. Art in the White House: 
A Nation's Pride. Washington, D.C.: The White House Historical Association, 2008)


Portrait of landscape designer and architect Frederick Law Olmsted. 1895
  Biltmore House, Asheville, North Carolina (left)

John D. Rockefeller
painted in 1917 at Rockefeller's winter home in Ormand Beach, Florida.(right)


 Portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, (1865-1932)
 National Gallery of Scotland

Lady Agnew's direct gaze and informal pose, 
emphasised by the flowing fabric and lilac sash of her dress 
ensure the portrait's striking impact.
Andrew Noel Agnew, 
a barrister who had inherited the baronetcy and estates of Lochnaw in Galloway,
 commissioned this painting of his young wife, Gertrude Vernon (1865-1932), in 1892.
info source: 


The Sitwell Family, 1900.
Private collection


Mrs. Cecil Wade
 1886, Oil on canvas
Nelson Atkins Museum of Art


It is in some of his late works where one senses Sargent painting most purely for himself. 
His watercolors, often of landscapes documenting his travels,
were executed with a joyful fluidness.

 Villa di Marlia, Lucca, 1910
watercolor, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In watercolours and oils he portrayed his friends and family dressed in Orientalist costume, 
relaxing in brightly lit landscapes that allowed for a more vivid palette 
and experimental handling than did his commissions

"Bedouins" circa –1906
watercolor,  Brooklyn Museum of Art.


“Dolce Far Niente,” circa 1907, 
oil on canvas,


Despite a long period of critical disfavor, Sargent's popularity has increased steadily since the 1960s, 
and Sargent has been the subject of recent large-scale exhibitions in major museums, 
including a retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1986, 
and a 1999 "blockbuster" travelling show that exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 
the National Gallery of Art Washington, and the National Gallery, London.


The Garden Wall, 1910, 

"You can't do sketches enough. 
Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh."
John Singer Sargent



October at La Pouyette
from green to red.....

Fatsia japonica (fatsi or Japanese aralia) Aralia japonica, A. sieboldii
an evergreen shrub native to southern Japan and South Korea.

 The name "fatsi" is an approximation of the old Japanese word for 'eight' 
(hachi in modern Japanese), referring to the eight lobes. 
In Japan it is known as yatsude, meaning "eight fingers".

Now in full flower, 
pleasing some late bees and wasps

Half way through October, the grass is still green....

....and - Oh wonder - a few Japanese Anemones keep on flowering! well as the Fuchsia

the last Dahlias



....fading slowly away....

 ....changing their colors....


The leaves of our "Back-Wall" Trumpet flower....

...turn from green to golden brown....

and the Virgina creeper...

 ....together with Hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangea 
creates a "mural painting"... green - yellow - from pink to red...and...and


Autumn leaves...

Happy October!

Until then...

Text sources and info links: