Every Pack with a Prize Inside

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Tennis cards, like baseball cards? Yes and no.

 

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These are called cigarette cards. Not much bigger than a modern business card, these trade cards were a bonus in a pack of cigarettes. They came in a series, usually twenty-five or fifty, with a similar theme.

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Each came in a different pack of cigarettes.

Many were aimed at male smokers:  airplanes, sports and cars. These cars were modern at the time.

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Cigarette companies wanted brand loyalty from consumers, so they gave them tiny works of art.

From the 1931 series "Picturesque London"
From the 1931 series “Picturesque London”

Another good way to get customers to keep buying from their company, and not from a competitor, was to display numbers on the cards.

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Or even letters of the alphabet.

Each letter has a different flag signal.
Each letter has a different flag signal.

The cards above and below are part of a 1910 series, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.

 

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Some were embroidered silk. Recently, a quilt made of many of these was on display at the Pasadena Museum of History.

I came across all of these, and many more, by accident, at a hotel near Yosemite, the Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal. All of the ones there were from Great Britain, from 1890 to 1939. The cigarette cards below of British military uniforms were issued in 1939, when the country was fighting for its survival in World War II. I like to imagine people in a bleak time appreciating the small, patriotic works of art.

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The Artist’s Garden: Impressionists and the Garden Movement

Take a second or two to load these beautiful paintings from “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920,” now at the Huntington. With the rise of the middle class and railroads, more people could commute to their job in a city and come home to a suburb.

Book published in 1901
Book published in 1901

Artists and other people enjoyed gardening in their own yards or in their artists’ colonies. Both painting and gardening involve color, form, and composition.

"The Crimson Rambler," ca. 1908, by Philip Leslie Hale
“The Crimson Rambler,” ca. 1908, by Philip Leslie Hale

“The Crimson Rambler” may look wonderfully old-fashioned to us, but its 1908 audience recognized this hybridized rose as a lovely product of technology. I like the lavender light on her white skirt, above,

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the pink in the multicolor grass,

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and the veil that is in sun and shadow.

Laundry drying on the clothesline, along with grass and shadows, is beautiful.
Laundry drying on the clothesline, along with grass and shadows, is beautiful.

 

"A Breezy Day," 1887. Charles Courtney Curran.
“A Breezy Day,” 1887. Charles Courtney Curran.

I think these women are spreading out laundered sheets to dry. This is a jewel of a painting, small (not quite 12 x 20 inches), and vivid, clear, and crisp as a windy day.

This exhibit, from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, is at the Huntington through Monday, May 9, and then continues its tour in the East. If you don’t live close to Los Angeles, that’s okay. I’ll keep posting about the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Can you see the banner of the painting "The Crimson Rambler?"
Can you see the banner of the painting “The Crimson Rambler?”

I’ll leave you with two artists’ own homes.

"My House in Winter" by Charles Morris Young
“My House in Winter” by Charles Morris Young

The labels with “The Artist’s Garden” exhibit state that the garden in winter was often discussed in books and magazines. The winter garden was considered a relaxing retreat, and winter a time of renewal.

The artist's home. "Snow" by John Henry Twachtman.
The artist’s home. “Snow” by John Henry Twachtman.

At the Huntington, I had read “renewal” to mean the sleeping gardens. I think of renewal in springtime grass and flowers. Maybe the writer meant personal renewal. Gardens, and impressionist art, renew and refresh me.

Happy Spring! Enjoy nature. I’ll post again on the first Monday in June.

Scarlett in “Mourning”

The month of Halloween, people often bring up Victorian mourning practices. Back then, it was an elaborate system, as was etiquette in general. I’ll talk about it another time, but here is something much more upbeat, a great movie clip from Gone with the Wind. The clip is four minutes, 45 seconds. At the end, Scarlett is a teenager in Deep Mourning, the first stage of mourning, which includes relative isolation. Note that even her jewelry is black. The other woman in mourning is her mother. Hattie McDaniel gives her Oscar-winning performance as Mammy. This clip sounds gloomy but is fun.

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/281096/Gone-With-The-Wind-Movie-Clip–Savannah-Would-Be-Better.html

 

English Grandeur in San Francisco, Part Two

This is about Lady Sybil, not of the show Downton Abbey, but of the Houghton Hall of my last post.  This Lady Sybil rescued Houghton Hall from neglect. She and her brother Sir Philip Sassoon collected art which is now at the Hall, and some is now at the San Francisco exhibit.

Lady Sybil Sassoon (1894-1989), later Lady Chalmondeley, was a friend and supporter of statesmen and artists. She founded the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

The American painter John Singer Sargent painted this portrait of her as a gift when she married the heir to Houghton Hall, the Earl of Rocksavage, in 1913. Sargent gave her the cashmere shawl she wears and painted “To Sybil from her Friend, John S. Sargent.”

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Her husband inherited Houghton Hall six years later and it was Lady Sybil’s home for the next seventy years, and she restored it to its former glory.

Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England
Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England © Copyright dennis smith

Last week, I posted photos from San Francisco’s Legion of Honor’s current exhibit Houghton Hall. Here’s a photo of one more room in the exhibit, the gallery with artifacts from Houghton Hall’s Tapestry Dressing Room.

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 Lady Sybil wore this robe, train and dress at the coronation of George IV in 1937. A peer’s rank dictates the type of ceremonial dress. Her father-in-law, the 4th Marquess of Chalmondeley, had the role of Lord Great Chamberlain at an earlier coronation (Edward VII in 1902) and wore the uniform above, including this hat.

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Here is the website of Houghton Hall, a page showing its splendid rooms. Click on the thumbnail photos to enlarge them. The exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor closes January 18, 2015.

 

A Sunday Stroll in a Frank Lloyd Wright Neighborhood

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio was closed for the day by the time we arrived in Oak Park, Illinois. We bought a map in the gift shop and walked around the corner.

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On Forest Avenue, most of the homes were not designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The yards are not wide, so it’s one lovely house after another, mostly Victorian and conventional, as you see above.

And then, bang. The 1902 Arthur Heurtley House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This is Prairie Style, horizontal as Great Plains. Wright wanted to create an American style for homes. This home has leaded windows, for which Wright is known.

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Across the street is the Moore-Dugal Residence, built by Wright in 1895. It’s a Tudor with some twists. Wright said, “A porch on a half-timber English Tudor. That never happened before.” I like the balls under the porch railing, and elsewhere, like the fence, where I got a close look at their ornamentation.

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This house went through a fire in the 1920s, and Wright, who had moved on from Oak Park, returned to redesign and rebuild the ruined upper half. The chimney had been conventional before, and he replaced it with a blade-shaped one.

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Too bad Wright’s studio and home were closed, but if I had got there on time, maybe I would have skipped the neighborhood tour, which I enjoyed very much. I did get to see his studio and home from the outside. The pillars have birds on them.

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There’s a lovely plaque with his name in stone, and above it,one of two sculpted crouched figures.

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Would I have noticed this, up high, if I had toured the interior? I don’t know, but I do know I will try to go back.

 

 

A Southwest Landscape from Albuquerque Museum

Enchanted Mesa by Carl Redin (1280x1009)

This wonderful painting did not satisfy its creator.  This is Enchanted Mesa, painted about 1930 by Carl Redin.  Like the southwest landscape in my previous post, I love this, the lines and the “weight” of the rocks and dark clouds. Here is a detail of the mesa and its rainbow-colored rock in shadow.

Detail of Enchanted Mesa

A surprising quote from the artist beside this beautiful painting at the Albuquerque Museum:

“Every painting is an adventure.  But when it is finished, then always for me comes a disappointment…I burned once a whole year’s work–12 canvases–because they irritated me.  Never have I been quite satisfied with a painting.”   –Carl Redin

Something to think about for all of us, especially those of us who write.

Two Paintings by Artists of Taos, New Mexico

The Taos art colony began about 1900.  American Oscar Berninghaus arrived in Taos, New Mexico, in 1899 and painted this portrait, Pueblo Woman of Taos, in 1925. People have lived in the Taos Pueblo, adjacent to town, for a thousand years.

The model is believed to be Marina Martinez of Taos Pueblo, wife of an artist.
The model is believed to be Marina Martinez of Taos Pueblo, wife of an artist.

Both this painting and the one below are from the Albuquerque Museum. Taos Valley Landscape, below, is undated, painted by Victor Higgins (1884-1949) who came to Taos in 1914.   Look how architectural this landscape is.

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There is red earth in the foreground, and throughout, horizontal and vertical lines and rectangles:  the trees, the fields and clouds.  I include the picture frame to show how the artist truncated the tops of the two tall, narrow trees on either side.  Here is a detail below, with a closer view of the rectangular fields and clouds.

Note the brushstrokes in this detail of Taos Valley Landscape.
Note the brushstrokes in this detail of Taos Valley Landscape.

I took these while on a tour with the 2012 Women Writing the West Conference in Albuquerque.  I will post another painting from Albuquerque Museum early Friday morning.  Have a good week and enjoy the beauty around us.