Thursday, November 13, 2014

Peking Opera Figures

Album of 100 Portraits of Personages from Chinese Opera

Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date: late 19th–early 20th century
Culture: China
Medium: Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk
Artist: Unidentified

Chinese Opera figure l

Chinese Opera figure b

Chinese Opera figure m

Chinese Opera figure i

Chinese Opera figure c

Chinese Opera figure h

Chinese Opera figure f

Chinese Opera figure

late 19th century watercolour sketch of member of Peking Opera company

Chinese Opera figure k

Chinese Opera figure d

Chinese Opera figure g

Chinese Opera figure e

Chinese Opera figure o

Chinese Opera figure n

Chinese Opera figure j

"In the opera boom of the late nineteenth century, albums were turned to a new purpose: documenting the variety and vibrancy of stage culture in all its multicolored splendor. This album records in detail the makeup and costume of one hundred characters drawn from nine plays. Each character is identified with an accompanying inscription, and the plays are named at the top right of nine of the leaves in slightly larger script."

Thursday, November 06, 2014


A Calligraphy Master's Album

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. a

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. c

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. f

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. i

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. k

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. b

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. j (cropped)

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. m

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. n

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. h

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. d

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent.

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. g

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. l

'Werke der Schönschreibmeister' by FH Brechtel (1573) is available from Bamberg State Library in Germany.

The 24 page paper manuscript is dominated by Middle German blackletter scripts with extravagant embellishment, and a minority of the pages contain 'less' ornamental writing in Latin.

The manuscript appears to be a compilation of calligraphic examples by one of the originators of early fraktur^ scripts, Johann Neudörffer the Elder, to whom this album is dedicated. The manuscript's title - something like: The Beautiful Works of the Master Scribes - is also suggestive of Brechtel having assembled a set of Neudörffer's calligraphy output, rather than his presenting an adaptation or transformation from the originals. [Later: I'm informed the title is plural, meaning Master Scribes or similar; so we might presume the album script examples come from a variety of sources beyond simply Neudörffer']

Neudörffer was an important educator and he published text books in Nuremberg on writing which dominated teaching curriculums for a couple of centuries; and his calligraphy endeavours were similarly admired. Neudörffer is also honoured as the first biographical historian of German artists, though his 'Nachrichten' (1547) wasn't published until the 1800s. He was lucky enough to have counted Albrecht Dürer as a friend and neighbour!

There is not a lot of information about Franz Joachim Brechtel (that I can find) online. It would appear that his main claim to fame and employment stems from music sheets that he printed. I'm unsure whether he was the composer or simply the designer/publisher of the sheet music. In either case, his name is associated today with more than a hundred pieces of music that I - just - randomly found on the internet (so a role as composer seems more likely, though I didn't dig into it).

  • Neudörfer (or Neudörffer), Johannes (i.e., Johann), der Ältere at the Dictionary of Art Historians.
  • Brechtel at Musicalis.
  • 'Lied und Liederbuch in der Frühen Neuzeit' 2009 by A Classen and L Richter features some biographical commentary on Franz Brechtel - (snippets)
  • ADDIT: go see Thony's very interesting post at The Renaissance Mathematicus wherein he expounds greatly on the printing scene in Nuremberg in the 15th/16th centuries.
  • Thanks Jeanne!
  • Previously (specifically) on BibliOdyssey: Nuremberg Scribe features elaborate scripts produced by Stephan Brechtel - likely a brother of Franz - and there's a link in there to a post on the Brechtel family of calligraphers 
  • Previously on BiblOdyssey: the many posts under the tag of calligraphy.
  • The Schönschreibmeister post first appeared on the BibliOdyssey website.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Folies Bergère

Advertising posters for music-hall cabaret
shows in Paris in the late 19th century

19th cent. french music-hall poster called: Tous les soirs, Thaumaturgie humoristique
Title: Folies-Bergère, tous les soirs, Thaumaturgie humoristique par le Comte Patrizio de Castiglione
Artist: Jules Chéret
Date: 1875

19th cent. french music-hall poster of chimney sweeps
Title: Folies-Bergère...Les Prices, ramoneurs musicaux...
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1890

19th cent. french music-hall poster - girl on fire!
Title: Folies-Bergère. La danse du feu [La Loïe Fuller]
Artist: Jules Chéret
Date: 1897

19th cent. french music-hall poster - boxing kangaroo
Title: Folies-Bergère. Le plus nouveau spectacle. Le kangourou boxeur
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1895

19th cent. french music-hall poster
Title: Folies-Bergère...Tous les soirs... original's... Huline Brother's
Artist: Charles Levy
Date: 1888

19th cent. french music-hall poster
Title: Folies-Bergère. Le Capitaine Costentenus
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1895

19th cent. french music-hall poster - family of bicycle trick riders
Title: Folies-Bergère. Les Selbinis, famille de vélocipédistes
Artist: F Appel
Date: 1887

19th cent. french music-hall poster - an elephant act
Title: Folies-Bergère, tous les soirs G. Lockart et ses éléphants
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1890

19th cent. french music-hall poster - sinister figure from Paganini
Title: Folies Bergère : le Spectre de Paganini
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1880

19th cent. french music-hall poster
Title: Folies-Bergère. Tous les soirs la famille birmane...
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1890

19th cent. french music-hall poster
Title: Tous les soirs à 8 heures. Folies Bergère, 32 rue Richer. O. Metra. Travaux de voltige, ballets, pantomimes, opérettes...
Artist: Jules Chéret
Date: 1875

Les Griffith's Grand Succes
Title: Folies-Bergère...Les Griffith's...
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1890

Lona Barrison
Title: Folies-Bergères. Lona Barrison
Artist: Albert Guillaume
Date: 1897

Tous les soirs à 10 heures
Title: Folies-Bergère. Tous les soirs à 10 heures, (trapéziste sur un taureau)
Artist: Emile Levy
Date: 1885

Les Trevally acrobates
Title: Folies-Bergère. Les Trevally acrobates tous les soirs
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1890

L'orchestre des éléphants
Title: Folies Bergère tous les soirs... l'orchestre des éléphants de Sam Lockart
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1890

Les Chiens Sauteurs-------
Title: Folies Bergère. Les Chiens sauteurs...
Artist: Ateliers Chéret
Date: 1890

Nala Damajanti charmeuse hindoue
Title: Folies-Bergère. Nala Damajanti charmeuse hindoue
Artist: F Appel (lithographer)
Date: 1895

"The Folies Bergère is a cabaret music hall, located in Paris, France. Established in 1869, the house was at the height of its fame and popularity from the 1890s' Belle Époque through the 1920s' Années folles. The institution is still in business, and is always a strong symbol of French and Parisian life." [W]

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Succulent Carrion

"[S]till enjoying, though in the afternoon of life, a reasonable share of health and vigour, I am now ready to proceed to any part of the globe, to which your Majesty's commands direct me. Many are the portions of it that have not yet been fully explored by Botanists - all of them are equal to my choice. To extend the science of botany, to enrich the Royal Gardens at Kew, and to obey your Majesty's gracious commands, are the only objects of ambition that actuate the breast of Your Majesty's most humble, most dutiful, and most grateful Servant, FRANCIS MASSON." (source)
The genus Stapelia (tribe: Stapeliae, family: Apocynaceae^) consists of around forty low-growing, succulent plants from southern Africa. They may resemble cactus at times, but they are not related. The Stapeliads were a larger group back in the late 18th century when the illustrations below were first designed.

The main taxonomic characteristic in the 1790s was the extraordinary flower parts produced by most member species. In order to attract the blow flies that pollinate the flowers, many Stapelia species (and related/synonymous Orbea varietals) give off a stench of rotting flesh. The deceit is so effective that the flies lay eggs in the flowers, not realising there is no food to sustain emerging maggots.
"The hairy, oddly textured and coloured appearance of many Stapelia flowers has been claimed to resemble that of rotting meat, and this, coupled with their odour, has earned the most commonly grown members of the Stapelia genus the common name of 'carrion flowers'. [W
"[..] named by Linnaeus after the 17th-century botanist Johannes van Stapel, there are about 100 species taking their common names both from the flower shape and the smell of dead meat designed to attract flies as pollinators." [C]
The original sketches for the 1796 book 'Stapelia Novae' are not seen below. Instead, in what may be a first for this site, - intentionally, at any rate - the hand-painted sketches from 1814 displayed here are reproductions based on the illustration plates published in a 1796 book, 'Stapelia Novae', by renowned plant-hunter, Francis Masson.

Customarily, the quest for illustrations to post here would centre around either the original drawings or their earliest appearance in published form. But only two original Masson drawings are said to have survived and the few random chromolithographic plates (that *I* have found^) from 'Stapelia Novae' online are of variable quality. However, the meticulous watercolour studies below by the young HL Wendland, after Masson's designs, are impressive in their own right.

These images are slightly colour-boosted and have been modestly background cleaned of spots and age-related stains.

watercolour sketch of Stapelia plant
Stapelia ambigua

watercolour sketch: Stapelia divaricata
Stapelia divaricata

18th cent. watercolour sketch of plant
Stapelia reticulata

Francis Masson illustration of succulent plant
Stapelia pedunculata

botanical watercolour sketch
Stapelia ciliata

"I sailed for the Cape [with Cook aboard HMS Resolution] in the beginning of 1772, and remained there two years and a half. ... In the year 1786 I was sent out a second time to the Cape, and remained there near ten years, in which time I had opportunities more minutely to search that great tract of country; the various collections I have sent back from thence to Kew Gardens have been cultivated with ... much success... Two species only of Stapelia were heretofore described by botanists; the genus now promises a numerous harvest of species. In my various journeys through the deserts I have collected about forty, and these I humbly present to the lovers of Botany." 
[Masson in the Introduction to 'Stapelia Novae'].

Stapelia gordoni watercolour sketch
Stapelia gordoni

botanical watercolour sketch: S. glanduliflora
Stapelia glanduliflora

Strapelia illustration
Stapelia asterias

botany book prep drawing
Stapelia acuminata

Stapelia plant 1700s (sketch)
Stapelia campanulata

watercolour sketch
Stapelia irrorata

Stapelia vetula watercolour sketch
Stapelia vetula

'carrion flower' plant watercolour sketch
Stapelia sororia

succulent species book preliminary sketch
Stapelia gemmiflora

watercolour sketch - Stapelia mixta
Stapelia mixta

Famed botanist, Joseph Banks, returned to England in 1772 after a world voyage with Captain Cook. Banks was appointed Director of London's Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and was in close contact with his friend, King George III, a passionate gardener himself, who even maintained a residence at Kew. The King wanted to improve Kew's reputation in Europe and to that end, Banks sought out a Kew gardener to volunteer for a new role as Kew Gardens' first plant-hunter.

The successful applicant for the job was one Francis Masson (1741-1805) who had left Aberdeen in Scotland for a job as an under-gardener at Kew RBG when he was 19 years old. As the new plant-hunter, Masson was ordered by the Admiralty to join the first leg of Captain Cook's 2nd voyage of discovery aboard HMS Resolution which set sail for South Africa in 1772. This would be the beginning of his 33 year tenure as the official Kew Gardens plant-hunter (during which time he collected in excess of 1000 plants for Banks and Kew).
"Masson immediately embarked on a two month expedition into the interior, taking in the Stellenbosch and the Hottentot Holland Mountains. Sometimes working with Swedish Botanist Carl Thunberg and sometimes alone, Masson spent amost three years searching out new species of plants in South Africa. By the time he returned to Kew in 1775 he had sent back over 500 previously unknown plant species." [source]
"After exploring the Cape and working quietly at Kew for several years, Masson returned to plant hunting. In the late 1770s, he traveled to Madeira, the Canaries, the Azores, and Teneriffe before moving on to the West Indies. In the early 1780s, Masson sent back plants from Portugal, Spain, and finally North Africa. He endured numerous difficulties, including being caught in the crosshairs of a battle, a hurricane that destroyed all of his specimens, and raids by privateers. He began the winter of 1805 in Montreal, where he succumbed to the extreme cold of the Canadian winter at the age of sixty-five. By the end of his life, Masson had managed to introduce more than a thousand species of plants to Britain." [source]
"Although he did not have a strong education and published little, Masson established a solid reputation. [..H]e was intelligent, observant, and a born traveller. In the obituary of this “mild, gentle, and unassuming” man, the Montreal Gazette noted that “travellers who occasionally met him in remote countries . . . and men of science that knew his unremitting botanical labours and could estimate his talents, bear equal testimony of his merits and their writings incontestably evince his very uncommon success.”" [source]
A 23 year old German from a family of botanists produced the illustrations of succulents seen above in 1814. Heinrich Rudolf (HR) Wendland (1791-1867) was doing an apprenticeship at Vienna's Botanical Gardens at the time and had an interest in exotic plants. He would pursue a career in botanical research and publish a number of papers on Acacia species. Wendland's watercolour sketches of carrion flowers were based on the chromolithographs published in Francis Masson's 1796 book.  Wendland's collection of sketches is even bound with a hand-written reproduction of Masson's title page.

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