Friday, August 7, 2020

The joys of wealth and privilege

The other day the weather was so beautiful it put me in mind of one of the most charming paintings in all of Western art: "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," by John Singer Sargent. It depicts two little girls in white dresses lighting Japanese lanterns. They're in a beautiful garden, surrounded by lilies and roses. It evokes all the loveliness of a summer evening.  

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, John Singer Sargent, 1886. Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), Photo © Tate Gallery, UK Tate Gallery Website

Some years ago I had a memorable experience wherein 4 of the 5 senses were delighted by a soft summer night. I'd gone outdoors to retrieve the cat for the night. The frogs in a nearby pond were performing their nightly chorale; the Western sky at the horizon was that soft, tender blue of the last rays of the sun; fragance of flowers and grasses were wafting by on a gentle breeze. I picked up the cat and buried my face in his soft, thick fur.

I was in that perfect state of bliss when all the environmental conditions unite to nourish and support homo sapiens sapiens. I'm sure the little girls who modeled for Sargent's painting felt it too.

But looking at the painting now, after all that's gone down recently, I realized how privileged one must be to have a garden, Japanese lanterns, and little girls who are healthy and well-fed. Hell, it's a privilege to have a cat. There are those who, if they ever got their hands on a Japanese lantern, would sell it to buy food. Their kids don't wear crisp white dresses, they make do with ratty T-shirts and jeans. They don't have a pot to piss in, let alone a garden.

Sargent worked during the Gilded Age, when the heiresses he painted went to England and bought themselves husbands from the impoverished nobility. Wealth can afford beauty. Perhaps someday everybody can.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

And another thing..

Male Hairstyle from the past that is way prettier than what guys wear today

From a Tumblr blog called "Male Beauty in Art"

Monday, May 25, 2020

Why do men's clothes have to be so dull?

Today I read an article in The Guardian by their fashion editor, regarding how lockdown has "freed" men's sartorial choices: https// Good on you, guys, for dressing how you want. I approve of tie-dye anything, it being a major improvement on the black/blue/gray canon of men's suits. As well as being drab, a standard men's suit jacket conceals the male torso in a 2-button, hip-length tube that creates a silhouette much like a concrete building block.

It wasn't always like this. There was a time when men's clothes emphasized broad shoulders, narrow hips, and long legs. British military uniforms in particular were the human equivalent of peacock plumage. Witness Major George Cunningham here, circa 1810 or so:

See what I mean - the trouser stripe highlights the length and straightness of the leg, the diagonal embroidery on the lower rib cage points up the width of the chest, the pointed bottom hem and belt of the tunic emphasize the wasp waist and lead the eye downward to where the embroidery on the pants flank the, er, naughty bits. (The horse is handsome too.)

A larger version of this image may be found at It's on Pinterest thanks to 2 Nerdy History Girls, whose joint blog is at Their Pinterest page is at

This clothing didn't just say, "I am a male," it said, "I am a fit, strong, healthy male. Fight me if you dare." The look worked for mating as well as war.

I have a theory. My theory is...

Men's clothing today is so drab because powerful men don't want young whippersnappers to upstage them in the attractiveness department. Back in the Gilded Age, filthy-rich guys like J. P. Morgan were the model to whom ambitious young men aspired. Morgan was also one ugly dude.

Of course there's no accounting for tastes - those who favor men who resemble a cross-eyed walrus with a paunch would likely fall in love with him.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, physical fitness was not considered a sign of virtue and hipness, as it is now. Consciously or not, captains of industry saw the advantage of concealing their short, portly, bandy-legged bodies with loose draperies in dark colors. So now all men who want to be taken seriously in the business world have to dress like short, portly, bandy-legged robber baron capitalists.

Rise up, guys, and show off the physiques you've worked so hard to build! Make haberdashers create clothes that make you look like men again! (But please, no codpieces, those are just vulgar.) You have nothing to lose but your uniformity.

What is art, and what do you care anyway?

YES, damnit, it IS SO art!

The other night I struggled with a moral dilemma. An ad for came through my Facebook feed - this is a company that ...