Sunday, March 02, 2008

Pictures for Robert



Robert has asked for some photos
of the sculpture seen in the background of this painting

It's a piece by Randolph Rogers (1825-1892)

and the title is
"Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii"

Apparently, it was quite popular in its day
(what subject could be more pathetic/melodramatic ?)

A copy was proudly donated to the A .I.C. in 1896,
and is one of the few pieces from that period
to have remained in its collection.


I hate it -- O.K. ?

But I do like the close-ups,
like the one shown above,
which I think mostly demonstrate
the work of some world class
Italian stone carvers.

(Rogers studied in Rome and then lived there
the rest of his life)







Small -- broken -- ouch



nice details, though




this should be 10" high
and sitting in a display case
with plates from the Franklin mint.











I think he was the Jeff Koons of his day,
(even if he lacked the irony)

But at least his Civil War monuments
do have a certain noble simplicity


12 Comments:

Blogger Bill said...

In the 1984 mini-series, Nydia was played by Linda Purl

March 02, 2008  
Blogger Bill said...

"Guiding her steps, then, by the staff which she always carried, she continued, with incredible dexterity, to avoid the masses of ruin that encumbered the path--to thread the streets--and unerringly (so blessed now was that accustomed darkness, so afflicting in ordinary life!) to take the nearest direction to the sea-side.

Poor girl!--her courage was beautiful to behold!--and Fate seemed to favor one so helpless! The boiling torrents touched her not, save by the general rain which accompanied them; the huge fragments of scoria shivered the pavement before and beside her, but spared that frail form: and when the lesser ashes fell over her, she shook them away with a slight tremor,' and dauntlessly resumed her course.

Weak, exposed, yet fearless, supported but by one wish, she was a very emblem of Psyche in her wanderings; of Hope, walking through the Valley of the Shadow; of the Soul itself--lone but undaunted, amidst the dangers and the snares of life!"

"The Last Days of Pompeii", by Edward Bulwer-Lytton 1834.

March 02, 2008  
Anonymous Amanda J. Sisk said...

I drew her on a childhood visit; the sketch is no doubt lodged in some ancient book of scribbles.

Is it both the subject matter and the technique that disgust you? I want to know more about your dislike.

March 04, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

First -- I despise the theme of pity -- which is just self pity in disguise.

Second -- I actually like what I would call the "technique" -- i.e. the Italians who carved stone into the resemblance of cloth blowing in the wind. What facility !

Third -- I also hate the the small, broken, petty quality of the design -- even if it perfectly fits the wretched theme.

(the above is just off the top of my head -- so maybe I'll change my mind on further consideration!)

March 04, 2008  
Anonymous Amanda J. Sisk said...

"Weak, exposed, yet fearless, supported but by one wish, she was a very emblem of Psyche in her wanderings; of Hope, walking through the Valley of the Shadow; of the Soul itself--lone but undaunted, amidst the dangers and the snares of life!"

Are we supposed to pity her? The text suggests we could view her as a figure of strength. I admire the broken, damaged, traumatized, challenged - the ones going forward, despite and through the suffering. Such are people worthy of celebration, not pity.

Going to take another peek at the "small, broken, petty" design.

Lovely drapery - the variety Sir G would lick, perhaps.

March 04, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Now there's an idea -- maybe when the guards aren't looking -- I'll have a good lick at that drapery myself. (cool marble on warm tongue - it might be quite enjoyable)

As a person who sells every kind of music from Gangsta Rap to John Cage -- I have to salute everyone's taste -- but still -- I like what I like, and hate what I hate.

That's my right as an American !

(and your right, too -- so when I finally get voted director of the AIC, I'll keep Nydia on display -- just for you!)

March 04, 2008  
Blogger GEM said...

Ick - Nydia is tres fromage, from the point of view of the excess of sentimental appeal, but perfect visually for the provided Bulwer-Lytton quote.
"the huge fragments of scoria shivered the pavement before and beside her, but spared that frail form; and when the lesser ashes fell over her, she shook them away with a slight tremor," ick, ugh, blech - just too, too much refinement, as ais the sculpture. G and GEM

March 05, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

It looked better in the painting! Far from being pretty Chris, she's hideous! Perhaps that is a little unkind but she is no beauty is she?
There are some redeeming features though. Technically quite difficult, I wonder who actually did the carving? It is remarkably well executed. Sir G’s "drapery" licked or not is well done from behind, so is the foot but I wouldn’t lick that either. It is the style that I dislike I think, the pose is believable of someone of that age.
Do you detect any “presence”?
Lytton, oh dear, his lines bring back school memories. Translated into Latin!
Thanks Chris.

On pity, have you read "Samson Agonistese" Amanda, Bill?

March 06, 2008  
Blogger Bill said...

No I haven't, Robert.
There are lot's of Nydias, for sure--I read an estimate of there being at least fifty-two, if I understood correctly that bronzes weren't being counted! It would be interesting to compare them all. The one in St. Louis hasn't struck me as being all too terrible, as opposed to one in an on-line book telling of an anonymous visitor fairly shrieking at "the gruesome sight" of seven Nydias under the chisel at Roger's studio in Rome.

http://books.google.com/books?id=NyTZ3WQVrDEC&pg=PA147&lpg=PA147&dq=nydia+randolph+rogers&source=web&ots=HZF3qJyzMx&sig=_I3oA9UBKR13jXJMBRIE9xTZdp4&hl=en#PPA147,M1

Check out page 154 with its dramatically shadowed torso of Erastus Palmer's "White Captive"!

March 06, 2008  
Blogger Bill said...

"at least eleven full-sized marble versions (including this one) and forty-six reductions"

That sounds more reasonable.

http://www.speedmuseum.org/rogers_n.html

March 06, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

11 copies ?

No wonder it's been carved so well -- these guys had plenty of practice -- just as they would have had for the stock figures used in the cemetery sculpture of that period.

I wonder whether I would like ANY sculpture that was designed to present this theme ? (blind girl running away from a burning city, while listening for the call of her friends)

It doesn't seem to resemble any other myth from anywhere else in the world. Who wants to celebrate flight ? How can it deserve a lingering contemplation ?

(though, come to think of it, wouldn't it work as a monument to the survivors of the World Trade Center?)

It certainly raises the issue of sentimentality -- which is so cherished by some, and so abhorred by others.

March 07, 2008  
Blogger Bill said...

Well that's cause it's not a myth, but melodrama set in the land of myth. Just like you, part of my interest in Nydia came from the expectation I would find myth, but all there is to be found is a shroud of a very commercially successful fiction. Nydia is presented in museums as a personage of substance, but she is not. One hundred and fifty years ago people knew exactly who Nydia was and didn't have our confusion. She was topical and of the moment. It's pretty perverse that she is front and center in so many museums.

Good point about the WTC and how the desire to memorialize is a vacuum which has the power suck sculpture into existence.

Is the theme of blindness limited to the pathetic? Interesting question.

March 07, 2008  

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