Gazing at this beautiful graphic on the cover of the Met’s Winter 2017 Bulletin, I thought to myself: Why, that looks like Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s backdrop for Mozart’s Magic Flute. More precisely, it’s identified as being by Karl Friedrich Thiele, “after” Schinkel’s design for The Hall of Stars in the Palace of the Queen of the Night. Here is the original by Schinkel:
Here is Diana Damrau, singing the Queen of the night’s famous – and famously challenging – aria, Der Hölle Rache:
Born in Prussia in 1781, Karl Friedrich Schinkel was a man of extraordinary gifts. He was not only a set designer but a painter and architect as well.
Back to the Met Bulletin: For two hours I’ve been lost in image searches prompted by this slender, unpretentious little volume. Here are some of the results:
If ever it could be said that a person’s very soul has been captured in an image, then surely it was done in this portrait of Louis-Remy Robert by his friend Alfred Thompson Gobert. The two were colleagues at the Royal Porcelain Factory at Sèvres. Commentary provided on the Met’s site explains how technical necessity resulted in a striking work of art:
Robert’s colleague Alfred Gobert, head of the Enameling Workshop at Sèvres, is shown here with his head slightly bowed and his eyes half closed (in part to help maintain his pose during a long exposure in bright sunlight), as if lost in thought. The shallow depth of field—only Gobert’s face is in focus—and the flecks of light and soft massing of shadows so characteristic of prints from paper negatives heighten the sense that this portrait is a privileged meditation by Robert on the interior world of his friend.
We know of this model nothing but her last name, Miss Keene.
I confess I exclaimed with delight upon seeing this photo! This school was founded in 1823 by George Barrell Emerson, second cousin to Ralph waldo Emerson. It is described in the Bulletin as “the most prominent school for young women in Boston.”
Described in the Bulletin as “a superb example of Atkins’s cameraless photograms of algae and plant specimens,” these and similar images were created by placing “plant samples directly on light-sensitized paper. The resulting cyanotypes, or blueprints, appear as negative images against a sea of Prussian blue.”
Ah, J.M.W. Turner, master of light….If you haven’t seen the film Mr Turner, featuring Timothy Spall’s brilliant and memorable portrayal of this genius of British painting, I recommend it very, very highly.
Just viewing this trailer made me yearn to see it again, in its entirety. Why aren’t there more movies like this?
As usual, this intensive period of image searching took me far afield, in this case somewhat outside the province of the Met Bulletin:
Date unknown, but probably not long after 1835, when Baron Gros committed suicide.
(Nine months later, our own Miss Marple, we still miss her so much.)