Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Baroness Madeleine Deslandes

WE SAW some elephants, monkeys and seals in the morning, then a soldier or two wandering along St Kilda Road in the afternoon (being Anzac Day), and went screaming down dark and winding water tunnels at the pool in Albert Park. But the highlight of the day was seeing this beautiful picture for the first time in the flesh. Baroness Madeleine Deslandes was a French aristocrat who admired Burne-Jones and visited him at his home called the 'Grange' in Fulham, London in late 1895.  She was a writer of romantic fiction who established a Parisian artistic and literary salon. The portrait was the result of a rare and important commission, coming at a time late in Burne-Jones' life in which he was gaining many admirers from the Continent.

The wealthy Frenchwoman is wearing a dress of a beautiful deep blue and the inky black background compliments it well. She looks vague, distant and cerebral, as well as cool and sophisticated. She cradles a crystal ball in her lap which adds a mysterious dimension of something akin to clairvoyancy. I found the little reflective squares on the ball beautiful as well as her buttoned sleeves and the simple bows on her dress. Her fingers are smooth and slender. I imagine she would have appreciated the dreamy, mysterious quality of the painting which Burne-Jones achieved after several sittings. It's fabulous to see beautiful pictures in the flesh like this.

Portrait of Baronne Madeleine Deslandes

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