Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sit for a Portrait

The imposing back of this armchair will set the sitter off from his surroundings. The wide backrest reaches up high and provides a sort of halo that defines a special place. Perfect for a portrait sitter. Although the materials say casual, I think you must be conscious of the distinction that radiates from this structure and have to live up to sitting here ! No slouching, please. But isn't it pretty! It is from the Crinoline collection designed by Patricia Urquiola at b&bitalia (many other pieces to be seen on this very chic site) and is made of polyester and aluminum. Its ancestor is the Peacock or Empress armchair traditionally made of cane that was first created toward the end of the 19th century. I learned these terms the other day while reading Style Court, where we are reminded that Morticia Addams sat in just this sort of chair! I can confirm that this is true, since part of the American education of my children consists in watching the DVD collection of the series. I hasten to add that this is only part of their exposure to American culture.

The model above is perhaps not as imposing, but the asymmetry of the enormous kashmir
boteh motif adds interest here. The result is striking.
He was talented; he was erudite; he was chic. This is a portrait of Philippe Jullian, the illustrator, historian, biographer, and author. Homme du monde. Most known for the Dictionaire du snobisme and Les styles, his caricatures are sometimes cutting but always insightful, guiding us to the truth about a certain time, a certain society through its interiors. The first years of his journal 1940-50 are to be explored in the recently published volume by Grasset. Like Osbert Lancaster writer of Homes, Sweet Homes, whom he cites as his inspiration for his livre culte, Les styles, his sketches and texts enlighten us with his very personal vision of the Middle Ages up to the goût du jour of 1961, date of publication. A man like this does not sit in just any chair for his portrait.

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