Beautiful Actresses and Fashions from the Early 1920s

Today I’m posting images of silent film actresses in fabulous clothes, which I found in the Library Of Congress archives. These photographs date between 1920 – 1925. However, it is possible that a few earlier images might have slipped in. Sadly, I had to crop out many of the photographs’ handwritten labels when I processed the photos. If you look closely, you can find Joan Crawford,  Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Bebe Daniels.

Click on an image to enlarge.

You Are The Physician Of My Soul – Georgian Love Letters

I’ve received a request for more love letters!  Absolutely! I’m posting an affectionate correspondence from this book:

I think the book may have been published in 1777. There isn’t a clean text version of this book, so I’ve tried my best to catch all the wild punctuation and capitalizations, as well as clean up the long Ss. Have fun!

etter One

The Assurance of Love.  

Madam,

There is now no Minute of my Life that does not afford me some new Argument how much I love you. The little Joy I take in every Thing wherein you are not concerned; the pleasing Perplexity of endless Thought which I fall into, wherever you are brought to my Remembrance; and lastly, the continual Disquiet I am in, during Absence, convince me sufficiently, that do you Justice in loving you, so as Woman was never loved before.

I am, &.

Arturo Ricci

etter Two

From a Lover to a young Lady, expressing his Uneasiness at being obliged to behave to her with Indifference.

Dearest Belvidera,

 I hurried away from you, in order to be more with you than I could be where I then was; for your Uncle observed me in such a particular Manner, that I durst not so much as look at you: Nay, as he has a great deal of Discernment, I was afraid that very Affectation would betray me; for to be with you, and not to gaze on you, is so known an Impossibility, that a contrary Behaviour might well be suspected of Design. Consider how much a Person must endure, who, being almost famished with Thirst, beholds a clear delicious Stream, but dares not touch it, and you will be able to form some Idea of the Tortures I was in this Afternoon, when I was obliged to behave with Indifference to my dearest Belvidera. They say it is a great Addition to the Torments of Hell that the Inhabitants there are able to behold the Felicities of Heaven and cannot enjoy them and that was just my Case Today for my dearest Belvidera is my Heaven of Heavens. However, though I am absent from you, I have at least no Witness of my Passion, and the Pleasure of telling it to you only. How happy should I be could I persuade you of its real Violence, and that you are certainly the most unjust Person in the World if its Sincerity goes unrewarded.

I am your faithful Polydore.

Jean-Étienne Liotard

etter Three

From Belvidera to Polydore, acquainting him that she is going into the Country.

My Polydore,

Tomorrow I set out for the Country, and with no Regret I assure you, but that of leaving you. The Person I am going to, will be no Consolation to me; and therefore if I receive any Satisfaction in my Journey, it will be entirely owing to your Fidelity. Adieu, think of me, or forever forget what I promised you.

Belvidera

Arturo Ricci

etter Four

From Polydore to Belvidera, on being informed she was so ill as to be attended by a Physician.

 My dearest dearest Belvidera,

Consider the Excess of my Passion, and you will be able to guess how much I was shocked on being informed of your Illness. I am extremely impatient to know what Effect the Doctor’s Medicines have had upon my dear Patient. Heaven grant he may restore you speedily! I wish it were in the Power of the Physician to give you a Medicine that would convey you into my Arms as often as I wish it; and yet my Affection is of so pure a Nature that I could patiently endure even the Pain of your Absence, if I thought the Country would be of Service to you; but I am inclinable to think the Town would agree with you full as well, in this inclement Season: But of this you are better able to judge. But give me leave to make one Request, which is, that you will take care of yourself, for the Sake of one whose Happiness is centered in you alone.

 I am, my dearest Belvidera, ever thine.

Michel Garnier

etter Five

Belvidera’s Answer

My dearest Polydore,

I am so well convinced of your Sincerity, that my Bosom shall be no longer a Stranger to you: Know then that you are the Physician of my Soul, and it is in thy Power alone to cure all the Maladies of.

Belvidera

Jean-Étienne Liotard

etter Six

Polydore to Belvidera

My dearest dearest Belvidera!

I have provided a License and a Ring, to which if you have any Objection, I beg you will let me know it by the Return of the Post. But, if you approve of my Proceeding, your Silence will be a sufficient Testimony; and I will immediately repair to my dearest Belvidera, to take Possession of my only Treasure.

 I am thy anxious Polydore

Bovidira not answering his Letter, he went, as he proposed to celebrate the Nuptials; and they are now extremely happy in the Possession of each other.

Michel Garnier

The Emperor’s Prized Dogs

This painting of Xiang Fei, the Fragrant Concubine, led me on a fascinating artistic hunt. Why did the portrait strike me? I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but upon later study,  I realized my fascination with the painting was because it blended Western and Eastern styles.

Giuseppe Castiglione or Lang Shining painted the portrait in the 18th century. Castiglione, born in 1688 in Milan, trained as an artist in Europe before joining the Jesuits at 19. He was sent to China to serve under the Qing Dynasty emperor.

Emperor Qianlong by Giuseppe Castiglione
Emperor Qianlong’s Pleasure during Snowy Weather by Giuseppe Castiglione

In China, Castiglione adopted the name Lang Shining and fused his Western artistic training with Eastern techniques. He served under three Qing Dynasty emperors, ultimately becoming a court painter. He died in China in 1766.

He painted several series for the emperors, including my favorite, the Emperor’s prized dogs!

Merry Winter Solstice

I had quite forgotten about Winter Solstice this morning when I stumbled down to the kitchen for chocolate and coffee. I only remembered when my friend sent a text from her annual solstice sunrise pilgrimage. So, in lieu of a cold hike in the darkness to see the cleansing sunrise, I’m posting about the origins of the Yule Log from The Book of Days. A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, 1864. I can’t vouch for the correctness of the information presented, but it makes for a good story.

The burning of the Yule log is an ancient Christmas ceremony, transmitted to us from our Scandinavian ancestors, who, at their feast of Juul, at the winter-solstice, used to kindle huge bonfires in honour of their god Thor.

Thor going off on giants.
Mårten Eskil Winge 

Hmmm, maybe I could celebrate the solstice by watching Thor: Ragnarok by candlelight.

The custom, though sadly shorn of the “pomp and circumstance’ which formerly attended it, is still maintained in various parts of the country. The bringing in and placing of the ponderous block on the hearth of the wide chimney in the baronial hall was the most joyous of the ceremonies observed on Christmas Eve in feudal times. The venerable log, destined to crackle a welcome to all-comers, was drawn in triumph from its resting-place at the feet of its living brethren of the woods. Each wayfarer raised his hat as it passed, for he well knew that it was full of good promises, and that its flame would burn out old wrongs and heartburnings, and cause the liquor to bubble in the wassail-bowl, that was quaffed to the drowning of ancient feuds and animosities. So the Yule-log was worthily honoured, and the ancient bards welcomed its entrance with their minstrelsy.

And here, in connection with the festivities on Christmas Eve, we may quote Herrick’s inspiriting stanzas :

Come bring with a noise,
My merry, merry boys,
The Christmas log to the firing;
While my good dame she
Bids ye all be free,
And drink to your heart’s desiring.

With the last year’s brand
Light the new block, and,
For good success in his spending,
On your psalteries play
That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a teending. (burning)

Drink now the strong beer,
Cut the white loaf here,
The while the meat is a shredding;
For the rare mince-pie,
And the plums stand by,
To fill the paste that’s a kneading.

The allusion at the commencement of the second stanza, is to the practice of laying aside the half-consumed block after having served its purpose on Christmas Eve, preserving it carefully in a cellar or other secure place till the next anniversary of Christmas, and then lighting the new log with the charred remains of its predecessor.

The due observance of this custom was considered of the highest importance, and it was believed that the preservation of last year’s Christmas log was a most effectual security to the house against fire. We are further informed, that it was regarded as a sign of very bad-luck if a squinting person entered the hall when the log was burning, and a similarly evil omen was exhibited in the arrival of a bare-footed person, and, above all, of a flat-footed woman!

Robert Alexander Hillingford – Yule Log being brought in at Hever Castle

French Fashion from the 1840s.

t’s the weekend!

Happy shopping, baking, wrapping, partying, or just lounging about sipping hot chocolate and watching holiday movies (or K-dramas, in my case.) Here’s a slideshow of fashion illustrations to make you smile. They’re from the mid-1840s and found in Les Modes Parisiennes.