This Day’s Notable Aesthetic

There is much to recommend a point of departure from your peers, if only in the slightest of alterations. In a recent burst of research that led me to peruse and absorb the very comprehensive Athenaeum image data base, there was an array of beautifully posed and scrupulously staged society women, the leading hostesses of the aristocracy, renowned for their unashamed luxury, unapologetic largess, flagrant displays of ostentation and endless rounds of clothing changes for everything from tea to motoring.

For posterity, the privileged, it was determined, were to be preserved in all manner of sartorial splendor on canvas by the leading painters of their day, like Philip Alexius de László, Giovanni Boldini, Paul César Helleu, and, of course, John Singer Sargent. As the female of the pair was generally regarded the more pleasing of the two and the least encumbered with more pressing matters of state, it was ordained that it would be she, not he, who “sat” for the artist, exhibiting the proper vows of decorum ranging from propriety, timidity, respectfulness, gentility, thoughtfulness, and on occasion, a self-satisfied smirk of superiority befitting their station. Evening gowns were, without exception, sumptuous, exquisitely detailed, uncompromisingly lush and resplendent in accentuating the hues of pastels more suitably consistent with the eggs of Easter.

Which is why, Clotilde García del Castillo, the wife of Spanish painter, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, appearing in a gown of radiant black, accenting the tiniest of waists with a sunburst of petals, defiantly posing with hand on hip with just a hint of a saucy rebuke, is awarded This Day’s Notable Aesthetic. Beg to differ?


Met Museum
Title: Señora de Sorolla in Black (1906)
Artist: Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923)




~ by eaesthete on 01/09/10.

7 Responses to “This Day’s Notable Aesthetic”

  1. Absolutely beautiful…

  2. Very interesting point of view. I have nothing to object since my capabilities (to my great shame) in art analysis are limited. But it is with great pleasure that I read this article. I stumbled upon your Blog by accident while doing some research on the subject of Millinery. Your reference to Mr.Steven Jones, my teacher, led me to your Blog and I am absolutely mesmerized with your writing as well as the visuals of the Blog. I am looking forward to reading it all. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your thoughts with me. I also have a Blog dedicated entirely to my Millinery Atelier and Collections of fabulous hats, inspirations and design. I will be happy to have you as my guest. :-)

  3. Could not wait to read the acknowledgment of the artist. Beautiful piece of work.

  4. Wonderful observations and beautiful subject. A small detail that captivates me – the positioning of hands. Delicate and perfect hands that would never knew domestic labour, yet the assertiveness of hand on hip, very truly a woman who celebrates her station in life.

  5. will not differ. She is so full of flesh and blood realism against that painterly background – and yes, those hands speak volumes.

  6. Her eyes are so alive… gorgeous work.

  7. Sass with class? While the hands may speak volumes, I dare say this lady probably did not mince words. Love the peak of skin under the lace.

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