Peter Schlosser was an Austrian artist, in the days of Art Nouveau, Jugendstil and the Wiener Secession (the Vienna Secession). I found a post about him, but no entry. This above painting is dated 1896.
Gustav Klimt and other artists founded the Wiener Secession in April 1897. Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is dear to me because I was a friend of relatives, members in fact, of the Bloch-Bauer family. My friends were Hélène and Francis Gutmann. Francis, whose mother was a Bloch-Bauer, finished a PhD in physics, at the University of British Columbia, where I also completed a PhD. However, we had met in Victoria. I also met Mr. Bloch-Bauer, an uncle (I believe). He was an older gentleman at the time, the very late 60s. If my memory serves me well, he spoke French. Francis met his wife, my friend Hélène, in Montreal. He enjoyed playing the piano. The Nazis pillaged the family home. His brother-in-law, a prince, taught me the Viennese Waltz. Francis was born in Vienna and died in Montreal, in 2014.
Racine’s Phèdre is about love and jealousy. In certain seventeenth-century works of literature, jealousy is the feeling that reveals one is “in love.” Love is therefore looked upon as dangerous, because jealousy can be an extremely painful feeling. The foremost literary expression of this phenomenon is Madame de la Fayette‘s novel entitled La Princesse de Clèves, published anonymously in 1678. It is considered a masterpiece of Western literature.
This post is not about Phèdre, except indirectly. I am using images related to Racine’s Phèdre, whose plays, tragedies, are rooted in Greco-Latin models or mythology. However, Racine’s tragedies usually convey a meaning not entirely intended in the Greco-Roman “model.” Moreover, Racine’s plays are examples of works of literature that were considered as well written as their source. The literary maturity of seventeenth-century French literature triggered the famous Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. As we neared the end of the seventeenth century, many claimed that the modern work of literature was at least as fine as the Greco-Latin “model,” which was often the case.
On Jean Racine
Jean Racine is one of the most prominent dramatists in French literature. He lived during the seventeenth century, the age of Pierre Corneille (6 June 1606 – 1 October 1684), best known for Le Cid (1637) and Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin), one of the “greatest masters of comedy in Western literature,” (baptized 15 January 1622 – d.17 February 1673). (See Molière, Wikipedia.)
Jean Racine‘s Cantique is a translation and a paraphrase (a rewording) of an earlier text. Set to Gabriel Fauré‘s music, it nearly becomes what the romantics, nineteenth-century authors, artists, musicians and critics, would call the “sublime.” Gabriel Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) set Racine’s Cantique to music when he was nineteen-years old.
A canticle is a song of praise taken from biblical texts other than the Psalms (Wikipedia). Magnificats, hymns of praise, are canticles. Racine’s text is a translation and a paraphrase of Consors paterni luminis. It is part of Racine’s Hymnes traduites du Bréviaire romain (Hymns Translated from the Roman Breviary), published in 1688.
I have recycled images used in my posts on Racine’s Phèdre. Phèdre’s husband slew the Minotaur, the offspring of Pasiphaë, Minos’ wife, and a bull. The Minotaur’s father may be the Sacred Bull. The Bible’s Golden Calf is an example of the worship of bulls, calfs and cows. Pictured below is the Bull of Knossos, or the Cretan Bull. The Minotaur‘s mother is Pasiphaë, Phèdre’s and Ariadne’s mother. The Minotaur was slain by Theseus, Phèdre’s husband, who used Ariadne thread to find his way to the Minotaur through the labyrinth built by Daedalus, who crafted sadly-remembered wings for his son Icarus.
However, let us focus on Gabriel Fauré’s (op. 11) musical setting of the canticle translated by Racine. Bulls will be discussed elsewhere. They were worshipped in Egypt, so it’s a long story.
By and large, we no longer worship bulls and bull-leaping is antiquated, but we do have bullies a-plenty.
Best regards to all of you: my family!
Fresco of bull-leaping from Knossos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lilacs in a Window by Mary Cassatt, 1880 (Photo credit: Wikipaintings)
WordPress is still making my life difficult. My last post was dated 12 July. I had then written a draft of the post on 12 July. However, I did not complete the post until 15 July. I have republished it. In order to read, it is no longer necessary to go back to July 12. It’s a long post; yet it is not really complete. It required at least one more comment on motherhood in Cassatt. I must also point out that Cassatt Japoniste prints cannot be associated, except by date, with Impressionism. These two elements have been included in the post dated 16 July 2013.
I am still unable to access my Reader and look at your posts. If necessary, I will beg WordPress’s Happiness Engineer.
Allow me to wish you an excellent day.
Love to all.
The Fitting, by Mary Cassatt (1891)( Photo credit: Wikipaintings)
Jean Racine (22 December 1639 – 21 April 1699) is the foremost dramatist (tragedy) of 17th-century France. Racine is best known for his tragedies the most powerful of which may be Phaedra EN (Phèdre FR) which premiered 1 on January 1677, at l’Hôtel de Bourgogne, the best venue in Paris.
In Greek mythology, Phaedra is the daughter of Pasiphaë, the granddaughter of Helios, the personification of the Sun, and the daughter of Minos, king of Crete and the son of Zeus. She is married to Theseus, the founding hero of Athens, who slayed the Minotaur, aided by Ariadne, Phaedra’s sister. Ariadne gave Theseus a thread (le fil d’Ariane) to guide him to the Minotaur, was enclosed in the Cretan labyrinth. The Minotaur is the child of Pasiphaë and a bull and, therefore, a half-brother to Phaedra and her sister Ariadne. As for the bull, he may be the Sacred Bull, a White Bull. Europa was seduced by Zeus disguised as a bull. (See Europa, Wikipedia.)
In Racine’s tragedy, Theseus, Phèdre’s husband, has a son by a previous marriage, Hippolytus. During a lenghty absence, it is reported that Theseus has died. Phaedra, who has fallen in love with Hippolytus, tells him she loves him. Hippolytus is horrified. However, Theseus has not died. When he returns home, a jealous Phaedra—she has learned that Hippolytus loves Aricie—tells Theseus that she was seduced by Hippolytus.
Theseus calls on Poseidon (Neptune), who has promised to grant him wishes, and asks him to avenge him. A monster comes out of the sea and kills an innocent Hippolytus who is riding on a horse. Guilt-ridden Phaedra commits suicide.
Racine’s play is based on Euripides’s Hippolytus, but Jean Racine’s play is the work of a writer who views love as devouring passion.
As for Gabriel Fauré‘s Cantique de Jean Racine, it was composed when Fauré was 19. The text itself is a paraphrase, by Racine of a Medieval hymn entitled Consors paterni luminis. In Racine’s paraphrase (see below) God seems distant as He also seems in Phèdre.This hymn is sung at the beginning of Matins, the Canonical Hour that ends as day breaks. Set to Fauré’s music, the meaning of the text, an almost despairing hope that God “notre unique espérance” (our only hope) will have mercy on powerless humanity is expressed in a poignant yet resigned manner. Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine is the centrepiece of this post.
Alexandre Cabanel: a portrait of Phèdre
Our featured artist is Alexandre Cabanel (28 September 1823 – 23 January 1889), an academic painter. He won the Prix de Rome and was awarded the Grande Médaille d’Honneur at the Salons of 1865, 1867, and 1878. In 1863, Cabanel was elected a member of the Institute, founded on 25 October 1795, and appointed professor at the École des Beaux-Arts.
Cabanel’s art has been described as art pompier (pompous), but his portrait of Phèdre is exquisite and renders her inability to fight a fatal love. She looks powerless. Cabanel’s most famous work is The Birth of Venus, 1863, housed at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris.
The Birth of Venus, by Alexandre Cabanel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(please click on the picture to enlarge it)
Le Cantique de Jean Racine: the Text
I have not provided an English translation of Racine’s Cantique. However, translations of the canticle are available, in several languages, at ChoralWiki (simply click).
Verbe, égal au Très-Haut, notre unique espérance,
Jour éternel de la terre et des cieux ;
De la paisible nuit nous rompons le silence,
Divin Sauveur, jette sur nous les yeux !
Répands sur nous le feu de ta grâce puissante,
Que tout l’enfer fuie au son de ta voix ;
Dissipe le sommeil d’une âme languissante,
Qui la conduit à l’oubli de tes lois !
Ô Christ, sois favorable à ce peuple fidèle
Pour te bénir maintenant rassemblé.
Reçois les chants qu’il offre à ta gloire immortelle,
Et de tes dons qu’il retourne comblé !
Today will not be my best day as a blogger, as today is the day Quebec elects a Premier, which is a pre-occupation. But I would like to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr (8 March 1841 – 6 March 1935) with respect to a citizen’s obligation to pay taxes. “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society,” he wrote in Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas vs. Collector of Internal Revenue 275 U.S. 87, 100 (1927). I know very little about Mr Holmes, but he was mentioned in a document I read, which prompted me to investigate a little, but not to an extent that would allow me to express opinions about him. What I know is that he was an “American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932.”
Although there is a collective subconscious, we can to a large extent break away from it. The existentialists also left a message. Put in a nutshell and simplified, this message is that we can shape our lives. In fact, we can do so not only at a personal level but also at a collective level.
Garibaldi and Slavery
Garibaldi, a founder of Italy as a unified state, offered his services to President Abraham Lincoln, but would not act if slavery was not abolished. So although slavery may not have been perceived as unethical to plantation owners, it was perceived as very wrong by Giuseppe Garibaldi (4 July 1807 – 2 June 1882). And among plantation owners, many treated their slaves with a degree of respect, as all human beings should be treated. It could be that they knew, in their heart of hearts, that slavery was morally unacceptable.
On Tuesday, September 4th, Quebecers go to the Election Polls. The campaign has been brief. Last night, September 1st, I heard that Pauline Marois could well be the next Premier. I then looked at my Twitter page. A leading journalist, Don Macpherson, was asking whether or not people would remain in Quebec if one of the Indépendantistes candidates won. Most of the people who replied were planning to leave.