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Posts from the ‘object’ Category

St. Lucy

December 14th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

Who is the Saint of Forgetfulness? I do not know. But Saint Lucy, I am told, is the patron saint of the blind. I forgot to post this on Saint Lucy’s Day on the 13th which is said to be the darkest day of the year. 

This statue from Naples c 1750 of Santa Lucia is carved and polychromed wood with sulphur eyes dressed in the original cloth robe. Sometimes she is depicted carrying a tray with two eyes on it.

Saint Lucy lived in Syracuse, Sicily in the early 4th century. Her mother decided to marry Lucy off to a Pagan, which did not make Lucy happy. She told her mother that Christ would make a much better partner and she cured her mother of a long illness which convinced her. She got out of the marriage. This did not please her no longer soon-to-be-husband who gave her up to the authorities for loving Jesus. She was arrested and thrown off to become a prostitute. She refused and was killed by soldiers after her eyes were plucked out. Her vision was later restored by God. There seems to be a lesson to learn from all of this.

The statue is 34″ tall on the original gilt base. $9800.00 but I’ve also forgotten from where you might purchase it if it is still available.

Giddy Up!

October 29th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

Thank you all for the e-mails and kind words asking, “Pontius…where are you? Are you going to come back and share with us all of those beautiful and interesting pieces discovered by you in the thrift stores, antique stores, flea markets, and auction houses. We want more! MORE!”
 My answer Dear Reader is Of Course, Here I am!
I’ve been moving into a lovely new apartment in Los Angeles. In fact, my last apartment in Williamsburg Brooklyn, would happily fit in the living room of my new apartment. And I still have a bedroom, a bathroom, a dining room, a kitchen, two walk in closets, and built-ins. Oh the luxury of space that The West affords.  
I thought you might enjoy this– think house warming present, thank you! Forever I will have the memory of the Austrian enamel and silver-gilt roc ridden by a putto. Vienna, late 19th century. As the description read: Well painted with exotic beasts on white ground with overlapping scales, the wings set with stones and pearls, ridden by a silver gilt putto, marked on claws and putto. Estimate 80-100,000. 
15″ T. 


September 29th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

1. Detail of jacket with butterflies. Late 19th to early 20th c. China. Tapestry-woven (kesi) silk and metallic thread.

2. Flowers, Butterflies, and Insects. Safavid period, dated 1059, A.H./A.D. 1649–50 Shafi Abbasi (Persian, active 3rd quarter of the 17th century) Iran Ink on paper; 5 x 8 3/4 in.

3. Two Bracelets of Queen Hetepheres I. Giza; Fourth Dynasty, reign of Snefru to early reign of Khufu (ca. 2575–2550 B.C.E.). Silver, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and carnelian; Diam. 3 1/2–3 5/8 in.


September 28th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

While it seems to be good to get what one desires, the greatest good is not
to desire what one does not need.

Guillaume Budé, the 16th century Humanist and founder of the library at Fontainebleau was on track with his words. This quote could be read in many ways. It could be interpreted in praise of the life of an ascetic. It could help someone to promote an agenda of fear and the idea of lack in the world. But to me, the quote pulls out the seemingly disparate worlds of desire and need and brings them together with our every present wants.
Beauty is something I need. I also desire and want it. The colors, textures, materials in their many different forms are reminders of transcendence.
In interior design, beauty can quickly lose out to interest, but it is beauty that will stand in the long run; not function and not utility and not a program, because those concepts always change. Beauty will always be beauty (beauty doesn’t change the narrative does) in its very essence it has a function, utility, and a program and no others are needed. Let’s start by drawing from nature a rich rebirth of narrative.
Image from color lovers.

Imaginary Bedstead

September 7th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

A bed can contain the whole life story. From the welcoming of love or death or birth, to everything in betweeen. The bed functions as an object of utility as a place to work to play to rest. In thinking about where I could sleep in my Imaginary Home, I am torn between a massive bedstead, and something perhaps simpler and more modern–an upholstered day bed. I have a warm regard for daybeds. Idling away hours, paging through my dictionary, staring out my window, sipping a milky cup of coffee, what could be better–if only a servant to bring food. As a former client Miss. M said of her own idling and work habits in bed, “If I can be horizontal, I am.”
A bedstead of course allows for curtains where as a daybed does not. As an object of the imagination, I have always loved the romance and secrecy of a curtained bed. They further enhance a beds general suggestion of safety, warmth, comfort, & separation–one could imagine embowered in cloth, in an other world of aerial dreams.
The answer maybe an alcove bed. It typically has the 3 sides of the daybed and they often have curtains. A notable alcove bed is Mr. J’s hybrid-alcove at Monticello. (Some might think having access to both sides novel but he like many politicos, wanted to have his cake and eat it too).
I love the tradition of the alcove bed as it is slid into the wall and is almost hid away. Mine, I think must have windows–at the foot and at the side–and cubbies within arms length at the peripheral.
1. “Room from the Hart House,” 1680, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
3. “Birth of the Virgin” Vittore Carpaccio, 1504–8, Oil on canvas.

Jean Lurçat

August 25th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

The image at top is Lurcat’s,”Paysage à Smyrne, l’arbre mort,” 1926. Now at the St. Louis Museum of Art. Below it is my Lurcat lithogaph purchased at a flea market in Florida. The paintings title is translated as something like, Dead tree in the landscape at Smyrne.

The www says: JEAN LURÇAT (French / 1892-1966) Painter, lithographer, and tapestry designer. During WWII Jean Lurçat was active in the French Resistance, sending out radio messages every night at 10:10 p.m. from a hidden transmitter in the 12th-century fortress the Tours Saint-Laurent in Saint Céré. Jean Lurçat’s revival of French tapestry in the war years made him a symbol of aesthetic and moral defiance of the Nazis. As Jean Cocteau wrote, “It required this man, Jean Lurçat, to say ‘No.'”

Smyrne was an Ancient city near the modern Turkish port of Izmir. It was founded by the Ionians (Greeks) as a stategic location because of its port and ease of defense. By the 8th century BC the city had a circuit of defensive walls. (Helicon).

The Great Fire of Smyrne (Sept 13-17th 1922) occured after the Turks took control of the city. There is still great dispute as to how the fire started: Turks, Greeks or Armenians, it ended the four year Greco-Turkish War (Wiki).

Perhaps the painting shows a landscape–real or imaginary–of the after effects of fire. I’m quite excited to have found some information on it.


July 20th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

Acanthus as an ornamental motif developed not from nature, but from precedent. The motif developed from craftsperson to craftsperson changing over time and stylized far from the actual leaf, Acanthus mollis.

This frame at the Getty is a fine example of the Acanthus motif.– made by Jean Chérin.

Chérin was unusual because he was one of two who were Guild member of carpenters’ and cabinet makers’ in the mid 1700’s–unusual because dues were high and apprentice time was long.  But this is how the frame is identified as it should be stamped  on the back with his mark from both guilds.

This frame in the rococo style –asymmetrical in it’s details but overall balanced to the eye–the  center motif is a shell with acanthus scroll leaf; similar to the one at the bottom center. A corner cabochon with leaf scrolling outward meets in the center of the vertical sides. Around the perimeter are simplified rocaille or seeds with the occasional leaf growing out interrupting the rhythm. It all illustrates a main intention of the rococo which was to force the eye to travel from one point to another never resting on a particular spot for very long.

Update 8/21/12. Book recommendations:

1. Frameworks: Form, Function and Ornament in European Portrait Frames, by Mitchell & Roberts–if you can find is excellent.
2. The Frame in America 1700-1900 A Survey of Fabrication Techniques and Styles, by William Adair–with whom I took a gilding workshop several years ago near Hearst Castle.

The New Desk

June 20th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

I am slowly starting to furnish my imaginary home. I’m not sure where I’ll place my new desk, but I had to get it. Bachelard in The Poetics of Space wrote something about that when we think of home, we have an idealized imaginary home in our minds, and if we try to leave this place to have it built, it moves into the area of a psychological project. Can’t you imagine running your fingers along my desk’s lovely curves? Opening a drawer for a paper clip? I think my little lap top fits nicely. I must find a chair, sit up straight, and not cross my legs.

Desk, France, 18th century 1750-1775.

Gertrude 101: “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”

Böttger and Beyond

June 18th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

1740. Harlequin and Pug as Hurdy-Gurdy. His Face!

c.1750 Italian. The Alchemist & his Assistant.

Orientals with an Artichoke as a Perfume Burner. Model by Johann Friedrich Luck. German, Frankenthal, ca. 1766.

Indiscreet Harlequin. Model 1740. The shoes!

The Muse Thalia with Infant. Model after Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1775).

Pantaloon. Meissen. Böttger period. (1710-1719). The Trinket Seller. Meissen. After a model 1738. Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1775).
If you are interested. Here is an overview of the tumultuous beginnings of Meissen. It goes something like this:

Chinese porcelain had been coming into Europe since the 16th century. By the beginning of the 18th century certain Europeans were enamored– in love & going crazy for porcelain but no one in Europe knew how to make it. King August II of Germany decided he wanted to be the person to figure out how to do it. He did what he could. Johann Böttger was an apothecary’s assistant in Berlin who came to Saxony. Johann claimed he had the secret to making gold. The King decided Johann must then be able to make porcelain, so in 1705 he had him imprisoned in a fortress in Meissen until he figured it out. Johann wasn’t particularily happy about this. He had a sign put above his door which said something like: I used to make gold and now I make pots.

After several years, Böttger finally figured out how to make a dark red colored porcelain-like material. A step in the right direction so they set up a factory in 1710. Johann had a bit of an epiphany around 1713 and tried making porcelain out of his hair powder which worked. Everyone was happy although I’m not sure what happenend to Johann.

If You Enjoy It Then You Understand It

June 4th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

A CUTLET. A blind agitation is manly and uttermost.
Tender Buttons. Objects, 1914.

My friend Mr. RM of West Palm Beach once told me he thought that Alice B. wrote the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and not Gertrude Stein, as Stein’s works are incomprehensible and The Autobiography is not.

I’ve always enjoyed reading about authors rather than reading their work. Gertrude Stein was my first favorite person to read about. She said things of which I had never heard. “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” It thrilled me. This, Picasso’s portrait, was on the cover of one of my favorite biographies that I read in high school. I used to stare at the cover; imagining it. It became a symbol for me of, that which was beyond where I was, so when wandering through the MET ten years ago I came across the portrait, it surprised me. It was not unlike one of Thoreau’s deers in the woods.

See portrait in situ here.

I still like to sport a Gertrude haircut and I still fantasize about having a suit made out of brown corduroy and taking up with socks and sandals for long walks around Paris (It is not what France gave you but what it did not take from you that was important). The title of this post is Stein. The rest of the quote is, “If you do not enjoy it, why do you make a fuss about it?” My new motto. You can hear the interview from 1934 here.