Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Sic Transit Gloria

Art Deco and Miss Swanson. Made for each other.

Gloria Swanson (born Gloria May Josephine Svensson, 27th March 1899 – 4th April 1983)

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Sparkle, Honey!'s Miss Ross's 75th birthday today. All hail!

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross (born 26th March 1944)

Friday, 22 March 2019

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

On the garden fair

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

[From The Sensitive Plant by Percy Bysshe Shelley]

It's the Vernal Equinox, dear reader, known in some quarters as "The first day of Spring".

From now on, the days get longer - Summer's just around the corner...

Saturday, 16 March 2019

I think today should be...

...a "Say Something Hat" day!

Brigitte Helm (17th March 1906 – 11th June 1996)

Zarah Leander (15th March 1907 – 23rd June 1981)

Vaslav Nijinsky (12th March 1889 – 8th April 1950)

Isobel Elsom (born Isabelle Reed, 16th March 1893 – 12th January 1981)

Marjorie Merriweather Post (15th March 1887 – 12th September 1973)

Eleanor Bron (born 14th March 1938)

Don't you..?

Monday, 11 March 2019

Sell, sell, sell!

Amid the chaos of the War of the Austrian Succession (that saw Hapsburgs, Bourbons and our own Hanoverians all vying for control of bits of Europe and further afield), an abortive attempted invasion of England by the French, and Jacobite rebellions stirring north of the border, an esteemed auction house was born...

From the New World Encyclopaedia:
Sotheby’s was founded in 1744 when British bookseller Samuel Baker first auctioned off the library collection of the recently deceased Sir John Stanley. The auction featured nearly 500 publications which sold for a total of ₤826. After his success, Baker quickly became the premier auctioneer of British libraries, auctioning off collections belonging to Prince Talleyrand, the Marquess of Landsdowne, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Buckingham. In 1767, Baker sought a business partner in auctioneer George Leigh, who was known for conducting business with an ivory gavel. After Baker’s death in 1778, his estate was divided between Leigh and Baker’s nephew, John Sotheby.

Under Sotheby, the auction house began the sale of prints, medals, coins, and rare antiques in addition to literary collections. In 1864, the auction house took the official name of Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge after addition partners were added to the organization. In 1917, the business moved its headquarters from London’s Wellington Street to New Bond Street, where it stands today. Following World War I, the organization began the sale of country houses, and in the aftermath of World War II, the company significantly expanded international operations...

In 1937, Sotheby’s conducted a noteworthy house sale of the pre-World War II era. Dispersing the contents of the Rothschild family home, the company netted more than ₤125,000, one of the largest auction values of the time. The auction garnered so much attention that it was broadcast live by the BBC. By 1946, the company reached an annual sales revenue that exceeded ₤1.5 million, a figure unparalleled for the next eight years.

In October of 1958, Sotheby’s sold the prestigious Goldschmidt Collection, a group of seven paintings sold at a black tie event which gained the attention of celebrities worldwide. The evening event was covered extensively by the international press. The auction lasted just 21 minutes and earned ₤781,000, the largest amount earned by any auction house at the time. Included in the collection was the Paul Cezanne painting entitled Garcon au Gilet Rouge which was sold to Paul Mellon for ₤220,000, a price more than seven times higher than any other modern painting had fetched to date. At the conclusion of the Goldschmidt sale, the esteemed audience stood on their chairs and cheered.

In June of 1959, Sotheby’s sold the acclaimed Adoration of the Magi, a 1634 altarpiece painted by the artist Rubens. The piece sold for ₤275,000 after just two minutes of bidding. Offered by the Duke of Westminster, the painting measured 8 feet by 12 feet and required temporary structural changes to Sotheby’s main gallery in order to bring it to auction. During the same auction, Sotheby’s set yet another record when it auctioned the Westminster Tiara for ₤110,000, marking a value more than double any other piece of jewellery had earned at auction at the time. The diamond crown featured two pearl-shaped diamonds, known as the Arcot Diamonds, and was adorned with 1,240 smaller stones. The tiara was purchased by Harry Winston.
And its successes have continued ever since. With its auction houses nowadays based in London, New York, Dubai, Geneva, Qatar, Zurich, Milan, Hong Kong and Paris, its most lauded sales included the priceless heirlooms of (as well as the Rothschilds) the Weinberg family, the Duchess of Windsor, the Duchess of Devonshire "Debo" Mitford, Somerset Maugham, Andy Warhol, Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, David Bowie and Gianni Versace. A rare 710-year-old copy of the Magna Carta fetched $21.3m in 2007, and in 2012 the sale of Edvard Munch’s The Scream for $120m made headline news around the world. Banksy's notorious "self-shredding" Girl with Balloon was probably a less welcome focus of world attention.

And here are just a few highlights from Sotheby's...


If only I could afford even one of their brochures...

The free exhibition Sotheby’s 275 years is at Sotheby’s Cafe from March to September 2019.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

I enjoyed every minute of it

“I felt I blossomed as a person when I got a chance to act. Through all the many years now, I've never fallen out of love. It's been like an incredible marriage that really worked. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

How very sad. That delightfully scatty comedienne and actress Miss Katherine Helmond has died. Of course, in "real life" she was nothing like her comedic characters - in fact she began her long career as a serious theatre actress back in 1955, and she was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown in 1973. Her later transition to television won her two Golden Globe awards for Who's the Boss? and Soap.

From my post five years ago on the occasion of the lady's 85th birthday:
"I'd really like to show women my age - who've had children grow up or lost husbands or retired after working all their lives - that there are options. There are choices. We don't have to just sit around and be invisible."

And "invisible" she certainly was not as the uber-camp matriarch in Terry Gilliam's Brazil...

But of course, it was for her role as Jessica Tate in Soap that she will forever be remembered...

RIP, Katherine Marie Helmond (5th July 1929 – 23rd February 2019)