Sunday 21 August 2022

The Fanfarona's Coda


Behold the source of my recent mischief! It is Giovanni Boldini's portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati with a greyhound, painted in 1908.

Although this image is in the public domain and lives on innocently on the Wikimedia Commons, it seems this is the controversial image that put a spotlight on Your Correspondent's hitherto well-concealed Rake-shame ways and drew the ire of a Pinterest peruser. 

For why? Who knows?! Maybe it was the Marchesa's notoriety during the life she lived so extravagantly? Or the lavish accessorising in feather and fur?

We will never discover the source of the affront; it seems I was a mere Fanfarona in bragging to you, Dear Reader, that I lived my own life as a sordid and salacious libertine! The Pinterest Police have loosed the shackles on my wrists saying they have reviewed my appeal and apologise for their mistake. No explanation was given and the image was put back.

Although a reminder was given to review the guidelines on, ahem, "what is and isn't allowed on Pinterest", Pipistrello is back to being a rather pedestrian hausfrau. Oh, well, È meglio così, as we say around here - It's better this way. I'm rather too lazy to be a busy Rakehell.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday 18 August 2022

Outed: Pipistrello The Rake-shame!

Art Nouveau door hardware in Brussels
A letter came last night

Well, Pipistrello had an unexpected fillip to her self-regard last night, Dear Reader, coming from an unlikely quarter. It seems the good people at the quaint and innocent pastime known as Pinterest have me in their sights and sent a stern letter saying I was in violation of their "Community Guidelines on adult content", no less, and had removed an offending image from my collection! Does this mean your usually rather starchy and sometimes censorious Correspondent is due a rebranding, having been outed as a Rake-shame?* 

René Lalique Peacock pendant, 1901
Avert your gaze from this shameless beauty

As to which among the items on my Art Nouveau board cluttered with Gallé glassware, Archibald Knox pewterware, Lalique jewels, Alphonse Mucha posters and whatnots could be classed as either "Fetish imagery, Vivid sexual descriptions, Graphic depictions of sexual activity or Images of nudity where the poses, camera angles or props suggest pornographic intent", I am unable to judge as the image offered up for my review had been fuzzed out in a considerate act of censorship. Too scandalous and blush-worthy for even my own eyes, evidently, let alone as salacious material for your feasting upon here. So I offer up instead similar companion pieces that rubbed shoulders with the disgraced item. Trigger Alert: NSFW**

Jules August Habert-Dys silver and enamel caviar server, 1905
Covet not this scandalous caviar server

Should you expect missives in future to be rejoicing in dissipation and licentiousness? At this juncture, I cannot say what may even constitute such branding, so perhaps just watch this space. 

Alphonse Mucha unused Pavilion decoration for the 1900 Paris World Fair, Le Vent Qui Passe, 1899, as a poster
Hide your blushes behind this fan design

Meanwhile, I await with curiosity as to the outcome of the appeal I submitted. How the Pinterest Police shall adjudicate over my entitlement to gather to my virtual bosom an image I'm not allowed to see is rather mysterious. I have also been told to busy myself with tidying up my boards and removing any further violating images of delicious Art Deco jewellery, incroyable tiaras, stunning bonsais, adorable tiny houses and kitchens and glamorous b&w fashion plates before they take "additional action on my account". This Rake-shame has been warned!!

First Paris Air Show, 1909
I may yet scoop up all my lovely images and
Take flight with them from future scandal

* OED: A disreputable or dissolute person; a rogue. Common in the 17th century and due for a refresh in 2022. In the event of a rebranding, I may need to modify my Blogger profile accordingly, lest any innocents stumble into these pages.

** Not Safe For Work. A bit of internet slang I did look up.

Image credits: via Pipistrello's Art Nouveau Pinterest Board

Sunday 7 August 2022

Comings & Goings


Train wreck at Montparnasse Station in 1895 by Studio Lévy and Sons
Was this announced as an Arrival or Departure?

There's been nary a murmur about these pages for simply ages, so Your Correspondent thought to plug the void with a lazy On This Day-kind of entertainment as a little something to be getting on with before a flurry of anticipated bloggish activity evolves beyond the Draft Department: In order to smooth the Comings and Goings of people through history, on this day in 1888 the revolving door was patented by Theophilus Van Kannel.

From Van Kannel's patented door specs

For thems who may be unfamiliar with this revolutionary idea, (hem hem), I have furnished an extract of the technical drawing for United States Patent number US387571A, (expired on this day in 1905, obv.) above. So with this handy image in mind, Dear Reader, let us put it to good use in a Flying With Hands take on Hatches and Dispatches:

Mata Hari
Isaac Israël, 1916

In the Comings Department, on this day in 1876, the mysterious and infamous Dutchwoman Margeretha Geertruida Zelle, a.k.a. Mata Hari, was born. Were she to dress, or, ahem, undress herself in raiments woven in complicated and luxurious brocade, she may have appreciated the endeavours of one man who made possible the mass production of such sumptuous fabric, for her life was a relatively short one and the axiom that good things come to those who wait couldn't thus apply in her case.

The Lyonaise manufacturer Didier, Petit et Cie ordered this silk version of the 1831 commissioned portrait by Claude Bonnefond
J. M. Jacquard silk portrait,
Woven on a programmable loom of his name by
Michel-Marie Carquillat, 1839

I speak, of course, of inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard, who, in the Goings Department, died on this day in 1834. The Jacquard Loom is quite the fixture in the both the Industrial Revolution and the Computer Revolution, where its punch cards found a temporary home and give fond memories to Computer Scientists of a particular vintage.

English polymath and inventor Charles Babbage, the so-called Father of the Digital Computer, owned a copy of this woven silk portrait of Jacquard. He was mightily interested in this loom and the notion of punch cards and freely adopted their use in the development of his Analytical Engine. 

Charles Babbage's Brain

As a little aside, and as befits the output of this monstrous brain (which, as he donated it to Science, can be read about here), amongst his many written contributions to the world of science and society is an entrancing 1864 pamphlet extract from his work Passages in the Life of a Philosopher*, entitled A Chapter on Street Nuisances, wherein he rails against the noise pollution of London by the incessant street music. 

He lists the "Instruments of torture permitted by the Government to be in daily and nightly use in the streets of London" (viz. brass bands, harpsichords, hurdie-gurdies, drums, bagpipes, psalm singing &c. &c.) and singles out for public shaming the many "Encouragers of Street Music" (viz. tavern-keepers, coffee-shoppes, servants, children, country visitors, sometimes even the occasional titled lady - "but these are almost invariably of recent elevation, and deficient in that taste which their sex usually possesses" - &c. &c.) 

He points also to "ladies of elastic virtue and cosmopolitan tendencies, to whom it affords a decent excuse for displaying their fascinations at their own open window" as also being great supporters of this reviled music, so it was fortunate he did not live to witness the "fascinations" of Mata Hari, for he would surely have had a thing or two to add to her reputation.

By the way, Ada Lovelace, (daughter of bad boy Romantic poet Lord Byron) herself the so-called Prophetess of the Computer Age, said in 1843 of her collaborator and friend Charles Babbage's invention, "The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves." 

Anyhoo, for thems who did not take the quaint subject Textiles & Design in school in the 70s or 80s and study in minute detail the whys and wherefores, I am furnishing a picture below of the invention in question (the Jacquard loom not the Analytical Engine, obv.):

1850 Portable Version of the Jacquard Loom

And for thems who did not work at Big Blue, a.k.a. IBM, or his kith and kin around the same time, I am furnishing a picture below of the thrilling computer punch card complete with bonus tape drives and is that the germ of a regulation comb-over?

The questions and the answers to
Life's Mysteries - and just Getting Stuff Done -
Once beheld in humble punched cardboard

And, before it's all but gone, that's about it for the 7th of August!

* Prefaced thus: 

Some men write their lives to save themselves from ennui, careless of the amount they inflict on their readers.

Others write their personal history, lest some kind friend should survive them, and, in showing off his own talent, unwittingly show them up.

Others, again, write their own life from a different motive - from fear that the vampires of literature might make it their prey.

Image credits: 1-4: Wikimedia Commons; 5: via Internet Archive; 6: Flying With Hands; 7: Sotheby's; 8: via Google

Bats In The Belfry