Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jean Gabriel Domergue

Jean Gabriel Domergue another of my favourite painters and one that put the 'Oh La La' (I have yet to hear a French person utter that phrase!) into his work.  You can see all sorts of influences in his art; Degas, Toulouse Lautrec and Giovanni Boldini who he studied under.  Never the less he developed his own unique style.

After a bit of trawling about I have managed to find a biography for him from the Pierre and Edouard-Pierre de Souzy Gallery in Paris...

Jean-Gabriel Domergue was born in Bordeaux, France on March 4th, 1889.

An extremely talented and precocious painter, Domergue exhibited works at the Salon Des Artistes Français (the French Artists Exhibition) in 1906 at the young age of seventeen. In 1913, he was awarded the Second Prize of Rome and went on to win the gold medal award in the 1920 show. He then began showing outside the exhibition.

Having first been recognized for his landscapes which he painted with great ease, his career took a decisive turn during the 1920's. At this time he became the painter of the "Parisian lady".

Domergue invented a new type of woman : thin, airy, elegant, with a swanlike neck and wide seductive eyes which gaze upon the world with longing.

"I invented the pin-up" he later claimed.

He went on to paint approximately 3,000 portraits.

Even though Domergue painted numerous nudes using fashionable actresses or young dancers as his models, he was nevertheless, highly prized in the aristocratic and high society circles painting individuals such as Liane de Pougy or Nadine, the future Baroness of Rothschild.

Domergue was also one the main organizers for famous Parisian gala events such as « The Venetian Ball » at the Opera in 1922 and other events using the Second Empire as its theme in Paris and also Cannes, Monte-Carlo, Juan-les-Pins, Biarritz and of course, Deauville.

Quite influential, he played an essential role in the evolution of fashion in his era.

He designed numerous dresses, hats and accessories for famous couturier such as Paul Poiret and Henry Marque.

Even though 1920 remains the turning point in Domergue's career towards feminine portrayals, his style developed all throughout his artistic career.

His quasi-definitive form appeared at the beginning of the 1930's.

From this time on Domergue was at the peak of his career; his paintings were no longer dated even though often titled on the back (oil canvasses or hardboards) and sometimes numbered.

Having knowledge of this perfected style and trend allows the trained eye to accurately date his works of art.

Domergue had a talent for highlighting the fickle and dazzling side of a beautiful woman that one likes to imagine.

His elegant mastery of the paintbrush places him in the tradition of artists such as Fragonnard and Watteau who in the 18th century helped establish the canons of beauty of their epoch.

His classical training combined with an aura of fantasy make Domergue's portraits unlike any others.

Domergue changed the way women were portrayed, breaking the traditional melancholic and vapourish poses.

The female figure became airy, sparkling and effervescent like Champagne bubbles laying the ground in his own way for the feminine revolution which began in the next decades. No one can remain unaffected when gazing upon such gaiety and sensitivity portrayed by the subtle style of his stroke.

One side of Jean-Gabriel Domergue's life is not as well-known ; he was Curator of the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris starting from 1955.

Under his leadership, extraordinary exhibitions were organized. Most notably were his tributes to Léonard de Vinci, Seurat, Prud'Hon, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Berthe Morisot and Francisco Goya. Furthermore, it was during his organization for the exhibit in honour of his own master, Giovanni Boldini, that he passed away in 1962.


 Domergue was made Knight of the Legion of Honour and Fellow of the Academy of Fine Arts.

Illustrations for winter evening wear 1936

There is a Museum in his former home; Villa Domergue, Cannes, France. formerly Villa Fiesole, built in 1934  Domergue was influenced by the Italian style and designed the villa and it's decoration down to every last detail, his wife, Odette Maudrange-Domergue who was a sculptress designed the beautiful gardens.  In 1973 Odette bequeathed the estate to the city of Cannes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring In The Pyrenees

Spring has arrived here in the Pyrenees, the photograph above was taken a few weeks ago whilst we were heading into the mountains for a spot of skiing, soon the snow will be melting and will be cascading down the mountains filling up the local rivers.  I gave the lawn it's first haircut of the season at the weekend, I am awoken every morning by birdsong, the sap is rising and everything is budding.  This is my favourite time of year, the promise of fine weather brings thoughts of long balmy days, spent outdoors and eating alfresco, I am already wandering around the garden first thing in the morning clad in my dressing gown and wellies, cup of coffee in hand looking at everything that needs to be done in the garden. 
Another sign of Spring is Crusoes departure from the garden around midday, he can smell a picnic from miles away and hotfoots it up to the Château up the lane to harass early tourists who have been taking advantage of the recent warm and sunny days, he is such a shameless scrounger and always puts on weight in the Summer, I think we are going to have to engrave 'DO NOT FEED ME' onto his identity disk.

A friend recently sent me this link for TIENS! an online magazine which reflects life here in South West France, this edition sums up Spring here perfectly.  My heart melted when I saw this:

 I am a bit behind with everyone's blogs but I am hoping to catch up with you all soon, wishing you all a fabulous week.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Remaining Hollywood Icons

As I sit here typing I can hear the TV on in the background with tributes pouring in from all over the world for Elizabeth Taylor, she was indeed a legend and for me she is up there with Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Marlon Brando.   The heady mix of mesmerising beauty, great acting talent,  her transition from child star to adult star, her marriages, jewellery, passions, charm, warmth and inner beauty will render her immortal for years to come.

However although her star burned brighter than most, and she achieved legendary status it is heartening to know she is not quite the last great icon from Hollywood's golden age or the last star from Hollywood's studio system, which the media keep bandying about.  After the news of Elizabeth Taylor's passing yesterday, I started thinking about the other great icons.  Who is left?  I am not the only one, the fabulous TJB over at Stirred, Straight Up, With A Twist was clearly thinking along the same lines and he has done a gorgeous pictorial post of a roll-call of glamourous and fabulous ladies of the golden screen who are still with us, pop over and check it out, I am ashamed to say, I thought some of the stars he featured had already left us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor The Last Hollywood Legend

Dame Elizabeth Taylor 27th February 1932 - March 23rd 2011

With her great friend Montgomery Clift her co star in; A Place In The Sun, Suddenly Last Summer and Raintree County

With her other great friend and Giant co star Rock Hudson

With her great loves, Mike Todd, her children and below Richard Burton

Probably the most beautiful and talented actress of the twentieth century, not to mention all the rest.
The end of an era.
Farewell Liz

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Been Shopping

Via The Sartorialist

I don't normally follow trends or fashion but after seeing these images, I have been lusting after a pair of leopard print shoes for quite a while.  I don't own anything leopard print so I felt the need to fill the gap in my wardrobe.

Via The Sartorialist

I have been scouring the internet for a good quality, reasonably priced pair, out of all the one's I looked at I decided that these two from Dune were my favourites.

After hitting the red wine a week last Sunday, I went onto the John Lewis website, they were having one of those sale day's where everything is reduced, the first pair were reduced from £80.00 to £65.00, that decided it, after a few clicks, they were mine.

They arrived yesterday and I love them, it's ages since I bought new shoes, they are slightly too big as they don't come in half sizes and I am a five and a half so I bought them in a six, nothing that an insole won't sort out.  MG loves them too, which is a relief as I told him he had purchased some shoes for me as an early Birthday present!

This is how they look on, although this is a rotten photograph, it's very dull here today and hardly any light, my legs look ghostly pale, almost grey, poor things they have not seen the light of day since last September. Please excuse the cracked mirror, caused New Years Eve two years ago, I was trying to get my shoes off, whilst in a drunken stupor and held onto the mirror for support!   I still have not got round to replacing it, oh and that white thing is Crusoe's hind leg, he was asking for a walk...not in these shoes.

I also went for a girly day out in Pau last week with my friend M, we did a long lazy lunch then hit the shops.  We were not looking for anything in particular, just browsing, but when I spotted these earrings, I had to have them.

Don't be fooled by the box, I put them in there so I could photograph them, they are not antique, just antique style in faux rose quartz, from Agatha, they are lovely, they look opaque but when the light hits them they are really sparkly.

I also bought some frippery from Galeries Lafayette, with Summer in mind I bought this turquoise necklace and these bright coral and pink nail polishes from Rouge Basier.

Finally we made an amazing discovery, whilst we were looking for something else we discovered this new shop, at first we thought it was an art gallery but no it's a soap shop called Mylo this is a soap shop with a difference, the soaps look like works of art but they will cut them down and they are sold by weight.  All the soaps are made with natural plant extracts and shea butter (no palm oil).   The soaps smell divine and are all designed to help alleviate minor skin problems, they have soaps for all types of skin including soaps for exfoliation, anti cellulite, sebum regulation, elasticity, sun exposure, tired skin etc.  M said "she never thought she would get this excited over soap"  I have not been this excited over fragranced products since I discovered the Dyptique shop in Paris years ago.  M, who has a thing about great fragrances bought a coffret of different soaps including patchoulie and vetiver, they also had blackberry and chocolate, tomato and basil, sesame and saffron, some of them sound like weird concoctions but I assure you they smelt divine and the designs of the soaps are beautiful without being novelties.  Unfortunately their website is not up and running properly yet but to find out more go here.

I would like to wish all of you who are celebrating, a very merry St Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Favourite Films, Bonjour Tristesse

Apologies for bringing you another favourite film post so soon after the last but as I have recently watched 'Bonjour Tristesse' I wanted to post about it whist it was still fresh in my mind. 

Bonjour Tristesse produced and directed by Otto Preminger in 1957, adapted from Françoise Sagans novel, published in 1954, written when she was 18, became an overnight sensation.

Cécile (Jean Seberg), is a spoilt, precocious seventeen year old living with her wealthy, Parisian, bourgeois, widower father, Raymond (David Niven), the two adore each other, however Raymond is a charming, somewhat shallow playboy, who does not take anything too seriously, rather than discipline Cecile he has sucked her into his superficial world.

Cecile and Raymond are holidaying in the South of France, with Raymond's current playmate Elsa Mackenbourg (Mylene Demongeot) and are all having a very jolly time.  Raymond receives a letter from his deceased wife's best friend Anne Larson (Deborah Kerr) a sophisticated, coolly beautiful Paris fashion designer, saying she is coming to stay, Raymond remembers at the last minute that he had invited her and rushes off to the station with Elsa to meet her, Anne turns up by car, with only Cecile to greet her, she is rather shocked to discover that Elsa is also staying.  And thinks about leaving.

Meanwhile Cecile has found romance with a young man called Philippe (Geoffrey Horne), whom she is contemplating losing her virginity with.

Anne decides not to leave and joins in with holiday frolics, it soon become apparent to Cecile and Elsa, that Raymond has set his sights on Anne and is going all out to seduce her, culminating in his leaving Elsa and Cecile at the local Casino and driving off into the night with Anne.

The next morning, over breakfast Raymond and Anne announce their engagement to Cecile, at first Cecile is happy for them, she respects and admires Anne.  The viewer at this point senses that both Raymond and Cecile want some kind of stability and depth in their lives, which the sensible, down to earth Anne can provide.

However after Anne catches Cecile and Phillipe, in a passionate embrace down at the beach hut, things take a turn for the worse, Anne tries to be a Mother to Cecile and treats her like a child, trying to instil some discipline into her, Cecile resents this and then hatches a plot to drive Raymond and Anne apart...

I first saw this film when I was around seventeen and as I was a bit of wild child I was firmly behind Cecile, now I have watched it years later, my opinions have changed, although I understand Cecile, I am rooting for Anne, I just wish she had handled things a little differently.

The film was slated by the critics of the day and still is to a certain extent, the New York Times review of the film was particularly scathing, Jean Seberg particularly came under attack:

"the actors seem incompetent or uncomfortable in his role. Jean Seberg as the centre of attention is a well-shaped but callow girl who reads her lines and takes her positions as if she were a misplaced amateur. David Niven is vapid as the father, with some thoroughly wretched things to say and do, and Deborah Kerr is in dire straits as the woman—the chic Parisian—who is beaten by a child."

To see the full horrific review go here

I do not agree with this at all, the critic obviously hated the story, to me he has simply described the actors playing their roles.

It has not stopped this film becoming a cult classic and it's not surprising, this film like the last one I reviewed starts with the Parisian scenes shot beautifully in black and white and then for the South of France it's shot in glorious technicolour (The Wizard of Oz has a lot to answer for, I am not sure, was this the first film to employ this technique?) The locations are to die for and the wardrobe department excelled themselves, the fifties fashions are glorious, all people who love fifties vintage need to see this film, even MG, who normally only notices cars in the films I make him watch, commented on how great the clothes were, it's all quite gloriously kitch, David Niven looks very camp in some shots and the knotted shirts had us giggling with pleasure.  The film is a joy and I for one love it!

Whilst doing this post I researched Françoise Sagan, the girl who wrote the story at the tender age of 18.  I cannot help but wonder after reading about her, was this autobiographical, or was it fiction?  Perhaps a bit of both.  I do see a lot of parallels...

  Françoise Sagan and Jean Seberg, on location, shooting the film

Sagan was born in Cajarc (Lot) and spent her early childhood in Lot, surrounded by animals, a passion that stayed with her throughout her life. Nicknamed 'Kiki', she was the spoilt youngest child of bourgeois parents - her father a company director, and her mother the daughter of landowners. Her family spent the war in the Dauphiné, then in the Vercors. She failed the entrance examinations to the Sorbonne in 1953. Though notorious all her life for her extravagant lifestyle, she would later attend school there but without graduating.

Her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness), was published in 1954, when she was 18 years old, and it was an immediate international success. It concerns the life of pleasure-driven 17-year-old Cécile, in particular her relationship with her boyfriend and her adulterous, playboy father. The novel allegedly influenced the Simon and Garfunkel song "The Sounds of Silence," the first words of which, "Hello darkness", echo Sagan's title Her pseudonym was taken from a character ("Princesse de Sagan") in Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu (In search of lost time).


Sagan's characters became something of an icon for disillusioned teenagers, in some ways similar to those of J.D. Salinger. During a literary career lasting until 1998, she produced dozens of works, many of which have been filmed. She maintained the austere style of the French psychological novel even while the nouveau roman was in vogue. The conversations between her characters are often considered to contain existential undertones. In addition to novels, plays, and autobiography, she wrote song lyrics and screenplays.

In the 1960s, Sagan became more devoted to writing plays, which, though lauded for excellent dialogue, were only moderately successful. Afterward, she concentrated on her career as a novelist.

Sagan was married twice: to Guy Schoeller (married 13 March 1958, an editor with Hachette, 20 years older than Sagan, divorced June 1960) and to Bob Westhof (a young American playboy and would-be ceramicist, married 10 January 1962, divorced 1963; their son Denis was born in June 1963). She took a lesbian long-term lover, fashion stylist Peggy Roche, and had a male lover, Bernard Frank, a married essayist obsessed with reading and eating. She added to her self-styled "family" by beginning a long-term lesbian affair with the French Playboy magazine editor Annick Geille, after she approached Sagan for an article for her magazine.

Fond of traveling in the United States, she was often seen with Truman Capote and Ava Gardner. On 14 April 1957, while driving her Aston-Martin sports car, she was involved in an accident that left her in a coma for some time. She also loved driving her Jaguar automobile to Monte Carlo to gambling sessions.

In the 1990s Sagan was charged with and convicted of possession of cocaine.

At various times of her life, Sagan was addicted to a number of drugs. She was a long-term user of prescription pills, amphetamines, cocaine, morphine, and alcohol. When the police came for an inspection of her house, her dog Banko showed cocaine to them and also licked the cocaine. Sagan told the police, "Look! he likes it too."

Her health was reported to be poor in the 2000s. In 2002 she was unable to appear at a trial that convicted her of tax fraud in a case involving the former French President François Mitterrand, and she received a suspended sentence. Françoise Sagan died of a pulmonary embolism in Honfleur, Calvados, on 24 September 2004 at the age of 69. At her own request she was buried at her beloved birthplace, Cajarc.
In his memorial statement, the French President Jacques Chirac said: "With her death, France loses one of its most brilliant and sensitive writers - an eminent figure of our literary life."

The book and the film are available here and here.

The wonderful opening scenes featuring Juliette Greco

Text Source for Francoise Sagan, from Wikipedia