Tag Archives: Colours

Robert Delaunay – Joie de Vivre

23 Feb

1912-13. Robert Delaunay - Le Premier DisqueRobert Delaunay, Le Premier Disque, 1912-13

If colours were emotions, this painting would be pure joy, euphoria, ecstatic rapture… Delaunay’s painting Le Premier Disque exudes playfulness, mainly because colours are in charge, and geometrical composition isn’t that dominant.

Delaunay’s colours are art therapy for me. This painting resembles a musical symphony, with colours instead of notes; deep red, cherry red, blue as the sky, the sea, then green, green like woods, yellow, van Gogh’s yellow, mystical shades of purple. Delaunay was a lyrical colourist, and after experimenting with Cubism, he returned to his greatest love – colour. He said himself: ‘This happened in 1912. Cubism was in full force. I made paintings that seemed like prisms compared to the Cubism my fellow artists were producing. I was the heretic of Cubism. I had great arguments with my comrades who banned color from their palette, depriving it of all elemental mobility. I was accused of returning to Impressionism, of making decorative paintings, etc.… I felt I had almost reached my goal.‘ It was necessary for him to experiment in order to find his own path, and he did, in 1912, when he finally succumbed to his passion for bright and dynamic colours. But his aim was different than those of Impressionists and Fauvists who still painted portraits and landscapes but with sometimes unnatural colours. Delaunay, like Kandinsky, wanted the paint to became valuable for itself.

Whenever I see this painting, it reminds me of Mayakovsky’s poem ‘But could you?’; in it Mayakovsky splashes a pot of colour on the trivialities of daily life, work-hours and boredom. Delaunay’s painting has the same effect on me; it stands as a spiritual border between school obligations and free time which I cherish immensely.

I blurred at once the chart of trite routine
by splashing paint with one swift motion.‘ (‘But could you? by Vladimir Mayakovsky)

For me, this painting is a true visual representation of ‘joie de vivre’, and therefore reminds me of Renoir’s paintings. While Renoir painted people dancing and laughing, Delaunay here uses nothing but colours, but provokes the same feeling from the viewer – joy of life. This is a painting which brings happiness, do you need more?

Harry Clarke’s illustrations for Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

16 Dec

I’ve already shared Harry Clarke’s illustrations with you, and I’m doing it again because these illustration are so irresistibly magical, colourful, vivid and psychedelic. I really enjoyed gazing at them, and I hope you’ll feel the same.

Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 3 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 5 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 4 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 2 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 1

My Inspiration for April II

30 Apr

In April my mind wandered from Regency era to the 1840s. I read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen again, and I watched the film, but at the same time I started writing my story again so I had to be absorbed in the 1840s.

Films that inspired me in April are Effie Gray (2014), Cry Baby (1990) and Submarine (2010). I’ve watched documentary The Real Jane Austen, In Search of the Brontes and BBC’s Family Life in the 1960s. And I’ve also watched television series Lost in Austen (2008) which turned out to be rather interesting and it gave me some ideas too. I haven’t been listening much to music in April, only Pulp and Manics (From Despair to Where). Though, a piece of classical music had enchanted me – Liebestraum (Love dream) by Franz Liszt; I’ve been listening to it while writing my story. In art, my interests ranged from Modigliani, Jeanne Hebuterne and Watehouse’s Nymphs to Thomas Lawrence, John Constable and other 18th century British painters.

1830’s and 1840’s fashion plates have given me hours of fun. I really immerse myself into all the details; shape of the sleeves, decorations, bonnets, lace, trims, and colours. I focused on colours this time. Knowing different shades of colours gives you much more variety than just thinking or saying that something is green, when you have lime, pear, emerald, moss, fern green. Colours are so exciting, are they not?!

I’m so sad that yet another April has vanished, but the sweet and flowery month of May is still ahead of us. Lament for my dearest months – April and May…

1857. The Sister’s Grave by Thomas Brooks

1840s Charlotte Augusta Whale (1819–1858), Wife of George Richmond Collis by Louis Henri Sebbersjane austen sense and sensibility book cover 1sense and sensibility 14

1795. Frankland Sisters by John Hoppner 1

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1825-28. Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869), Oybin window at the moonlight

1840. November fashion

Haddon Hall, Derbyshire - Jane Eyre 'Thornfield Hall' 1

1848. fashion 17

jane eyre 25

jane eyre 41

1848. January ballgowns, France

effie gray millais 2

1829-30. Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows - John Constable

1843. Fashions for April1960s marianne faithfull 125

1960s twiggy 209

1965. Catherine Deneuve And David Bailey on their wedding day

1966. Mod Save The Queen

1960s mini dresses 22

1840s – ‘Fashion of Sombre and Wilting Demureness’

28 Apr

Since the story I am writing is set in the 1840s, I came up with a cunning plan to write a post about women’s fashion at the time! Decade of 1840s represents both the first, and the simplest and most romantic decade of Victorian fashion.

1848. fashion 17

In cultural dimension, the 1840s were a fruitful period for Bronte sisters (1847 in particular), Chopin, Franz Liszt, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, the Pre-Raphaelites, and it also the first decade of applicable photography (Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill were active in this decade).

This is also the the first decade of Victorian era; Queen Victoria married Albert in 1840 and six out of their nine children were born in this decade. Movies set in the 1840s with accurate fashion are: The Young Victoria (2009), Jane Eyre (2011), Effie Gray (2014), La Dame aux Camélias’ (1980), Cranford (TV Series) and Return to Cranford (2009). Costumes in Sweeney Todd (2007) bear resemblance to the 1840s fashion as well.

young victoria blue gown 5

1840s Queen Victoria by Franz Winterhalten1846. Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Siciles, duchesse d'Aumale by W.

Fashion in the 1840s represents a muted version of the romantic and flamboyant fashion of the 1830s. Sombre colours and simplicity were in vogue after a decade of exaggeration and flashy colours. The biggest changes in the silhouette occurred in two spheres – firstly, natural waistline came into fashion after more than forty years of high-empire waists, and, secondly, the volume of the sleeves had collapsed.

1843-1848. Elizabeth (née Rigby), Lady Eastlake by David Octavius Hill, and Robert Adamson calotype1845. three dreamy ladies

1841. May court fashions (England)1841. May court fashions (England)

The silhouette of the 1840s was that of a bell shaped skirt, narrow waist and slopping shoulders. Sleeves were tight and simple, without excess decoration, as was the bodice. Skirt was simple as well; bell shaped, sometimes with delicate flounces of lace, but for day wear the appearance was kept modest. The fashionable look of the 1840s could be described as modest, sombre and demure, and, I’d dare to say, a bit gothic, especially with evening dresses, accesorise and details such as black lace, mitts, roses.

1843. house dress1840s grey silk satin gown 2

1840s Dresses, Striped and Bonnets

In the early years of the decade sleeves still resembled those of the late 1830s; fulness of the sleeves has moved from the shoulder to the lower part of the arm. From about 1843. narrow sleeves were fashionable, and they continued to be so until the late 1850s. Skirts faced changes too; they were gradually becoming wider and wider, richer in flounces and details, and worn with many layers of petticoats to achieve the desirable fulness.

1840. November fashion

To keep in touch with the overall moderate and dark spirit of the decade, popular colours were rather gloomy and toned down, especially for the day wear. Rich shades were popular for evening dresses, but white was favourable as it symbolised innocence and naivety and was therefor perfect for debutantes. ‘In the 1840’s, soft shades of yellow, greenish gold, blues and pinks were worn; but from the late forties stripes, plaids and the more brilliant shades of blues, greens red, and yellows came into fashion.‘ I have also noticed plaid being a popular fabric for day dresses. As for walking and outdoor dresses, my personal remark is that eggplant purple, cobalt blue and dark greens (darker colours in general) were common, at least judging by the fashion plates.

jane eyre 25

An interesting and accurate description of colours in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre which was written and set in the 1840s. Blanche Ingram’s evening dress at a small gathering at Thornfield Hall:

She was dressed in pure white; an amber-coloured scarf was passed over her shoulder and across her breast, tied at the side, and descending in long, fringed ends below her knee. She wore an amber-coloured flower, too, in her hair: it contrasted well with the jetty mass of her curls.‘ (Chapter 16)

Dresses that Mr Rochester wanted to buy for Jane Eyre:

‘The hour spent at Millcote was a somewhat harassing one to me. Mr. Rochester obliged me to go to a certain silk warehouse: there I was ordered to choose half-a-dozen dresses. (…) I reduced the half-dozen to two: these however, he vowed he would select himself. With anxiety I watched his eye rove over the gay stores: he fixed on a rich silk of the most brilliant amethyst dye, and a superb pink satin. (…) With infinite difficulty, for he was stubborn as a stone, I persuaded him to make an exchange in favour of a sober black satin and pearl-grey silk.’ (Chapter 24)

1842. eveninng dresses,  Petit Courrier Des Dames 1848. fashion 20

To balance out the dreariness of the day wear, evening dresses were, although simple in cut, often in rich shades of colours, usually decorated with a deep flounce of black lace and roses – the particular look is evident on many portraits of the time. Evening dresses were worn with lace mitts, opera gloves and sheer shawls which were quite popular during the decade.

Colours that I have noticed being popular for evening or dinner dresses are different shades of green such as lime and emerald green, raspberry pink, lilac, silver grey, sapphire and sky blue, amber and honey yellow. I have also observed that red wasn’t as popular in the 1840s as it shall be in the following decade; if worn, currant and garnet red were favourable.

1848. January ballgowns, France

Hairstyles of the 1840s are rather distinctive; hair was centrally parted and, while the back of the hair was shaped into a bun, front tresses could either be curled tightly or smoothed back over the ears and looped or braided. Compared to the hairstyles of the 1830s, these are quite simple.

Bonnets were toned down too; they became smaller and less extravagant and were decorated only by subtle flowers and tied with ribbons. For evening wear hair was in most cases worn curled and decorated with flowers, and occasionally, by the most fashionable ladies, little turban style caps were also worn.

1840s Back view of a Victorian coiffure 1840s headdress1847. Abendfrisur

The wedding dresses of this decade are, in my opinion, the most beautiful Victorian wedding dresses. They were worn with long veils, and a dash of lace, with the hair decorated with roses or other small flowers. Queen Victoria married Prince Albert on 10 February 1840, and successfully started a trend for white wedding dresses. However, wearing white for wedding wasn’t as special and new as it seems now; white wedding dresses were worn in the Regency era too as white was the most fashionable colour, and, in addition, white was, as already mentioned, extremely popular choice for evening dresses, especially for young women.

1844. march wedding dress and day dress

1844. nice shawl, Le Moniteur de la Mode1844. December Le Follet.

Still, as a Queen, Victoria popularised white for brides and made it a standard colour for wedding dresses, but also strengthened the Ideal of Womanhood. ‘Women were told from all quarters that their job was to stay close to the home and shape the world only through their calm and morally pure influences on the men in their domestic circle.’ Therefore, white colour for wedding dresses was more symbolic than ever. Image of Queen Victoria as an adoring and innocent bride, really captured the public’s imagination and along with the common character of a ‘modest bride in white’ often found Dicken’s novels, she cemented the ideal image of a bride.

1844. April Le Follet.

Mr Rochester remarked, upon seeing Jane in a white wedding dress and a simple white veil, that she was ‘fair as a lily, and not only the pride of his life, but the desire of his eyes.

Queen Victoria described her wedding dress in her journal: ‘I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch.

1842. A young Queen Victoria 1840. Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress 1839. sketch by Queen Victoria, Design for her bridesmaids dresses                                      1839. sketch by Queen Victoria, Design for her                                                                                       bridesmaids dresses

Shawl was very fashionable for outwear as it fitted perfectly with the silhouette of sloping shoulders and a bell shaped skirt, and it gives, if I may add, a romantic touch to the outfit. As the sleeves were tight, jackets and coats came into fashion again, but for walking dresses, especially on the north where the Brontës lived, pelerine was both fashionable and practical as it protected the wearer from the strong wind.

1840s Blue plaid winter cloak1845. Dress and mantle, England

As for footwear, 1840s are sadly the last decade of flat shoes. Fashionable shoes for women were satin slippers tied with ribbons around the ankle, and decorated with bows or lace.

1845. evening slippers, england 1845-1865. Evening slippers Queen Victoria's wedding shoes

That’s it! I sincerely hope that this decade of fashion appealed to you and captivated you as much as it captivated me.

Kandinsky – A Poet of Colours

24 Feb

‘Each colour lives by its mysterious life.’ – Kandinsky

1925. Swinging - Wassily Kandinsky 'The title conveys the painting’s sense of dynamic movement, suggestive of the rhythms of modernity. One of the pioneers of abstract painting, Kandinsky championed a mystical approach to art1925. Swinging – Wassily Kandinsky

In these grey days, in times between winter and spring when there’s no snow but no flowers either, my heart longs for colours and joy. I must say that I’ve found a tremendous joy in immersing myself in Kandinsky’s world of colours.

Wassily Kandinsky was deeply absorbed by colours; their meanings and mystical values. He argued for art that was purified from all references to the material world, and colour was essential for liberating the inner emotions of an artist, and transferring those emotions on canvas in a form of whimsical, dynamical and modernistic compositions.

My particular favourite these days is the painting ‘Swinging‘; the title itself suggesting dynamic movement, a certain rhythm and playfulness. The reason behind this sense of dynamic movement is Kandinsky’s deep study of colours and their connections. Even as a child he was drawn to colours, and the delight he felt on first seeing fresh paint come out of tube was indescribable. (…emotion that I experienced on first seeing the fresh paint come out of the tube… the impression of colours strewn over the palette: of colours – alive, waiting, as yet unseen and hidden in their little tubes…) Colours possessed a secret meanings for Kandinsky and they evoked different emotions for him. While blue colour symbolised spirituality and coolness to him, and yellow spiritual warmth, he seemed to really despise green colour, if it’s even possible to connect such intense emotion to colours, associating it with narrow minded and self-satisfied people, believing that it possesses nor joy, nor grief nor passion. Still, green is evident in his art, although not as frequently as blue.

Painting ‘Swinging‘, painted around 1925, during his ‘Bauhaus’ period, is overwhelmingly rich in dynamics, vividness, and it almost has a mystical dimension to it. First glance at this painting instantly brightness anyone’s day. How can something so strict in composition appear so playful, vivid and full of joy at the same time? I especially adore how despite all the strong and vibrant colours, transitions between shades are so soft. It’s that magical, mystic quality of Kandinsky’s paintings that really appeals me strongly, and there’s a certain vibe of innocence about them, like a childhood exploration.

1930s Several Circles, Vasily Kandinsky1930s Several Circles, Vasily Kandinsky

1913. Vassily Kandinsky - Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles1913. Vassily Kandinsky – Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles

1923. Circles in a Circle - Vassily Kandinsky1923. Circles in a Circle – Vassily Kandinsky

1910-11. 'Cossacks' was made during a transitional period, when Kandinsky retained some representational elements, such as the two Russian cavalrymen in tall orange hats in the foreground1910-11. ‘Cossacks’ was made during a transitional period, when Kandinsky retained some representational elements, such as the two Russian cavalrymen in tall orange hats in the foreground.

Nevertheless, Kandinsky’s exploration arrived from the inability to face the world that was becoming more and more obsessed with materialism, while the values of the ‘old world‘ were vanishing forever right before his eyes. Kandinsky escaped into a world of his own; a world of colours and abstraction, ecstatically enjoying the mystical qualities of colours.

The true work of art is born from the Artist: a mysterious, enigmatic, and mystical creation. It detaches itself from him, it acquires an autonomous life, becomes a personality, an independent subject, animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being.‘ (Kandinsky)

Autumn Colours

23 Sep

1900. Dress by Worth worn by Queen Alexandrine of Denmark

1900. Evening Dress, House of Worth1900-05. Evening Dress, Gustave Beer

1903. peach ballgown 1

1909. green evening dress

1910. A Maison Worth Cobalt Blue Silk Velvet and Gold Lace Gown, cobalt blue underdress with a peach velvet inset to the V-neckline, gold lace and net overlay, with a velvet cummerbund and silk flower embellishment at the bust

1910. black dress with golden leaves embroidery

1910. evening dress, house of worth

49.46.13_front 0002

1911. Evening dress by Jeanne Hallee, peacock -simbol besmrtnosti,bogatstva i egzotičnosti

1911. Silk And Metallic Lace Belle Epoch Gown, winter, New York

1912, edwardian dress, detaisl

1912. Evening dress by House of Worth

1912. tunic dress

1913. Evening dress and matching shoes by Jeanne Hallée 2

1913. Evening dress of Queen Maud of Norway

4x5 original

1916. Cape, Evening Hickson1918. Negligée, detail, Silk

1915. Gold Lace Evening dress 3