Monday, 10 October 2011

Artists of the Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Promenade des Anglais (1892) by Edvard Munch

Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is best known for his iconic work of anxiety and despair The Scream. But the artists also painted pictures that you'd want to hang on your bedroom wall or have as your screensaver, like his depiction here of Nice's beautiful Promenade des Anglais in 1892.

The famous walk has attracted many artists, the most notable of which was Raoul Dufy who lived for many years in the city. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted the promenade, as did less well known artists like Angelo Garino (1860-1945) in this painting below from 1922. The location is close to the Jardin Albert 1er with its fine esplanade and which once bore the name of le jardin Paradis (Paradise Garden).

Promenade des Anglais (1922) by Angelo Garino

German Max Beckmann (1884-1950) was another artist that was attracted to the charm of La Prom. In his work from 1947 called simply Promenade des Anglais in Nizza (Nizza is the Italian name for Nice which was once an Italian possession) we look down from the Colline du Chatêau, or Castle Hill, onto the broad sweep of the Bay of Angels below, with the dome of the famous Negresco Hotel clearly visible, though slightly exaggerated.

Promenade des Anglais in Nizza (1947) by Max Beckmann

Around the year 1938 Paris-born artist Pierre Eugène Montézin (1874-1946) set up his pallet on the promenade and painted his lovely picture Les palmiers sur la promenade des Anglais à Nice (Palm trees on the Promenade des Anglais). The artist loved the open air and the countryside and was still producing landscapes at the time of his sudden death on a painting trip to Brittany in 1946.

Les palmiers sur la promenade des Anglais à Nice (circa 1938)
Pierre Eugène Montézin
Other artists who painted the Promenade were Emmanuel Costa (born 1933); Belgian artist Gaston de Vel (1924-2010); Rose Calvino (born 1956); and doubtless many others, attracted by the light, the colours and the atmosphere of one of the most famous avenues on the Riviera. 

La promenade des Anglais à Nice (circa 1901) by Emmanuel Costa

Monday, 3 October 2011

Famous theatrical flops

Isabella and Claudio depicted
by William Holman Hunt
(1850). Shakespeare  leaves
it an open question whether
Isabella accepts the marriage
proposal of the duke-come-
fake-holy man.
Every writer has his or her flops, even the most renowned of them  all - William Shakespeare.  Measure for Measure, for instance, his story of a corrupt deputy, a phoney monk and a hysterical nun, placed among the Comedies in the First Folio but now regarded as a 'problem play' (along with Troilus and Cressida and the  ironically titled Alls Well That Ends Well). During the dramatist's lifetime the play has only one recorded performance, in 1604, when it was given before James I. It was revived in 1662 under the title The Law Against Lovers, an adaptation which included characters from Much Ado About Nothing, along with music and dancing. (Samuel Pepys saw the production and thought it 'a good play and well acted, especially the little girl's...dancing and singing, and were it not for her, the loss of Roxalana would spoil the house'). And in a 1699 version is was retitled once more, this time called Beauty the Best Advocate, with the most interesting bits (the low-life parts) removed.

Even worse for the poet was Troilus and Cressida, which does not seem to have been performed at the time he wrote it. It was staged during the Restoration in another heavily adapted version by John Dryden, who altered both plot and characterisation, as well as trying to 'improve' Shakespeare's 'ungrammatical' language. The piece was then ignored for most of the 18th century and for all but the last two years of the 19th century. But it was revived with much success in the 20th century and in the form that Shakespeare wrote it, demonstrating perhaps that the man was right all along, ungrammatical language and all.

These 'problem plays' immediately followed Hamlet and the timeless romantic comedies Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It, and immediately preceded the great tragedies Othello, Macbeth and King Lear, which Punch once humorously described as a play about the difficulties of raising children in a damp climate.

(Left) 'King Lear and Fool in a Storm'
 by Sir John Gilbert.