Ver Sacrum, 1902


Continuing the series of posts about Ver Sacrum, the art journal of the Viennese Secession. The volume of issues for 1902 maintains the same format as the previous year, beginning with a series of calendar pages then proceeding to showcase art, sculpture and graphics from Austria and elsewhere. The Secession exhibitions in Vienna were a highlight of this year, something explored in greater detail in the pages of Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. Also in these issues is more Symbolist art, this time from Jan Toorop and Franz Stuck. Among the latter’s drawings and paintings there’s a version of his popular temptress-with-serpent theme here entitled The Vice. (Stuck’s The Sin is the most reproduced of this series.) I hadn’t seen this one before which is surprising seeing as it’s his only (?) horizontal treatment of the theme.

As before, anyone wishing to see more can browse all 412 pages or download the entire volume here.



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Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration #8


Continuing the delve into back numbers of Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, the German periodical of art and decoration. Volume 8 covers the period from April–September 1901 and continues to use the ornamental capitals by Karl Lürtzing featured in the previous volume. In this edition the emphasis is predominately upon the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony, a remarkable venture in which many of the artists involved designed and decorated their own houses, the intention being to create living examples of the Jugendstil, or German Art Nouveau, style. This is explored in greater detail in the next volume but for now I’ve chosen a selection of work by Darmstadt artist Paul Bürck. As usual, anyone wishing to see these samples in greater detail, or the rest of the edition, is advised to download the entire volume at the Internet Archive. There’ll be more DK&D next week.


These peacock border designs are uncredited but they show how flexible the ubiquitous fin de siècle bird could be. The last page gives us something unique: an ape in peacock finery.



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Elatus from Pandaemonium I (Centaurs) (2010) by David Trullo.

One of a series of centaur portraits by Spanish artist David Trullo. Placing characters from Classical mythology in contemporary settings makes a change. The title Pandaemonium I implies further series so I’m curious to see how Trullo follows these.


Battling Centaurs (1873) by Arnold Böcklin.

Centaurs had a flush of popularity in Germanic art of the 19th century; Franz Stuck painted them a number of times and Jugend magazine is littered with many often grotesque representations. I’ve never seen an explanation for this resurgence of interest. Is it because a man/horse hybrid is a potent symbol of masculine power? Arnold Böcklin’s painting is one of the better examples and suits its title more than Michelangelo’s famous sculpture in which the hybrids are lost in a tangle of writhing bodies.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Masks of Medusa

The Great God Pan


Pan teaching Daphnis to play the panpipes; Roman copy of a Greek original from the 3rd-2nd centuries BCE by Heliodoros.

“The worship of Pan never has died out,” said Mortimer. “Other newer gods have drawn aside his votaries from time to time, but he is the Nature-God to whom all must come back at last. He has been called the Father of all the Gods, but most of his children have been stillborn.”

So says a character in The Music on the Hill, one of the slightly more serious stories from Saki’s The Chronicles of Clovis (1911). Saki’s Pan is a youthful spirit closer to a faun than the goatish creature of legend. But being a gay writer whose tales regularly feature naked young men (surprisingly so, given the time they were written) I’m sure Saki would have appreciated the Roman statue above. There’s nothing chaste about this Pan with his “token erect of thorny thigh” as Aleister Crowley put it in his lascivious 1929 Hymn to Pan, a poem which caused a scandal when read aloud at his funeral some years later. The Roman statue was for a long while an exhibit in the restricted collection of the Naples National Archaeological Museum where all the more scurrilous and priapic artefacts unearthed at Pompeii were kept safely away from women, children and the great unwashed. These are now on public display and include the notorious statue of a goat being penetrated by a satyr.

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The Feminine Sphinx



Work this week designing a CD of readings from Colette had me searching books for pictures of the author. Of the few I found this is the most interesting, one of several Colette portraits made by photographer Leopold Reutlinger and one of at least two from 1907 which Colette used to promote her Moulin Rouge pantomime, Rêve d’Égypte. (You can see another one here.) The Egyptian theme explains the sphinx pose and her costume but there’s no indication as to whether the pose was borrowed from Franz Stuck’s famous painting (below) or whether the resemblance is coincidental.


The Sphinx by Franz Stuck (1889).

Stuck produced two nearly identical paintings on this theme; the other version is here in a rather muddy copy. I like the frame design for this one which explains in pictures the secret of the famous riddle which the Sphinx asks of Oedipus, “Which creature goes on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three in the evening?” Stuck painted another sphinx picture three years earlier, The Kiss of the Sphinx, which portrays a less feminine and distinctly more rapacious hybrid.


Ida Rubenstein.

Colette was famously bisexual and so too was dancer Ida Rubenstein. In the same book as the Colette picture, there’s this photo of Ida recumbent in a sphinx-like pose in a very exotic boudoir. Photographs such as these are the material connection between the extravagances of the fin de siècle and the Decadent strain of early cinema in works such as Cabiria (written by Ida Rubenstein’s friend Gabriele D’Annunzio), Intolerance and (of course) Alla Nazimova’s Salomé.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Heidi Taillefer
Dorian Gray revisited
Beardsley’s Salomé
Lussuria, Invidia, Superbia
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé
The art of Giulio Aristide Sartorio, 1860–1932