Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Salmagundi #9

The weird and wonderful paintings of New York artist Travis Louie depict alternate Victorian lifeforms -- what he calls "human oddities, mythical beings, and otherworldly characters who appear to have had their formal portraits taken to mark their existence and place in society." His influences include sci-fi and horror films, circus sideshows, vaudeville, and the conventions of Victorian portraiture. "Jack Longfellow," shown at left, reminds me a bit of Gladstone. Check out the complete gallery of characters here.

Royal Holloway, University of London has announced that it is sending its world-famous collection of Victorian-era paintings on a two-year tour of the United States. The majority of the 60 canvases -- amassed in the late nineteenth century by self-made English millionaire Thomas Holloway -- have never been seen outside England. "Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London" opens at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then travels to the Delaware Art Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, the Huntsville (Alabama) Museum of Art, the Society of the Four Arts (Palm Beach, Florida), the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University, the Fresno (California) Metropolitan Museum, and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. Learn more about Royal Holloway's outstanding collection here.

To mark the 200th anniversary of its founding, the famous tour operator and travel agent Thomas Cook is opening its archives, housed in Peterborough, to the public. The company was founded by, er, Thomas Cook, a Baptist missionary and cabinet maker from Derbyshire who began offering breaks for Temperance campaigners in the 1840s. Visitors to the archives can consult destination brochures and handbooks dating back to 1845, issues of Cook's Excursionist newspaper (1851-1902) -- first issued to promote trips to London's Great Exhibition in 1851 -- and its successor, The Traveller's Gazette (1902-39), travelers' diaries, railway timetables, business records, photos, and film. Shown above: a detail of a map showing Cook's steamer and dahabeah service on the Nile, 1897.

Just after being married for the third time, the architect A. W. N. Pugin told a friend: "I have got a first-rate Gothic woman at last, who perfectly understands and delights in spires, chancels, screens, stained glass, brasses, vestments, etc." Rosemary Hill's biography of Pugin, God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain, has just won the 2008 James Tait Black biography prize. Read the TLS review by John Carey here.


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