Monthly Archives: November 2013

Signor Formica

E. T. A. Hoffmann, Self-portrait?, oil on canvas, ca. 1822, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

E. T. A. Hoffmann, Self-portrait?, oil on canvas, ca. 1822, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Salvator Rosa, Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 1645, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg

Salvator Rosa, Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 1645, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvator Rosa (?1615 – March 15, 1673) was an Italian, Baroque artist and poet known for his eccentric, proto-Romantic paintings. He was the subject of a fictional tale by the fantastic Romantic author, E.T.A. Hoffman, (24 January 1776 – 25 June 1822), best known for his weird tales of fantasy and horror. The story is called Signor Formica, and was published in the book, Weird Tales, Vol. I from 1885.

Here are some excerpts…

At the time that Salvator’s fame was ringing through Naples, Rome, and Tuscany—nay, through all Italy, and painters who were desirous of gaining applause were striving to imitate his peculiar and unique style, his malicious and envious rivals were laboring to spread abroad all sorts of evil reports intended to sully with ugly black stains the glorious splendor of his artistic fame. They affirmed that he had at a former period of his life belonged to a company of banditti, and that it was to his experiences during this lawless time that he owed all the wild, fierce, fantastically-attired figures which he introduced into his pictures…

Salvator Rosa, Landscape with Armed Men, oil on canvas, circa 1640, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Salvator Rosa, Landscape with Armed Men, oil on canvas, circa 1640, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

…The rumor ran that Aniello Falcone, the painter of battle-pieces, one of the best of Salvator’s masters, had been stung into fury and filled with bloodthirsty vengeance because the Spanish soldiers had slain one of his relatives in a hand-to-hand encounter. Without delay he leagued together a band of daring spirits, mostly young painters, put arms into their hands, and gave them the name of the “Company of Death.”

This is the ferocious band of which Salvator Rosa was alleged to have been a member, working hard at butchering his fellow-men by day, and by night working just as hard at painting…

More of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s work, including his famous novel, The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, here…

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Blackwood’s Dark Nature

Some snippets from the weird tales of Algernon Blackwood

From The Willows (1907)

Reproduction of a painting by Maurits Willem van der Valk (1857-1935), from the book Dutch art in the 19th Century (1909) by G. Hermine Marius, translated by Alexander Teixeira De Mattos

Reproduction of a painting by Maurits Willem van der Valk (1857-1935), from the book Dutch Art in the 19th Century (1909) by G. Hermine Marius, translated by Alexander Teixeira De Mattos

 

The change came suddenly, as when a series of bioscope pictures snaps down on the streets of a town and shifts without warning into the scenery of lake and forest. We entered the land of desolation on wings, and in less than half an hour there was neither boat nor fishing-hut nor red roof, nor any single sign of human habitation and civilization within sight. The sense of remoteness from the world of humankind, the utter isolation, the fascination of this singular world of willows, winds, and waters, instantly laid its spell upon us both, so that we allowed laughingly to one another that we ought by rights to have held some special kind of passport to admit us, and that we had, somewhat audaciously, come without asking leave into a separate little kingdom of wonder and magic—a kingdom that was reserved for the use of others who had a right to it, with everywhere unwritten warnings to trespassers for those who had the imagination to discover them.

From The Man Whom the Trees Loved (1912)

He painted trees as by some special divining instinct of their essential qualities. He understood them. He knew why in an oak forest, for instance, each individual was utterly distinct from its fellows, and why no two beeches in the whole world were alike. People asked him down to paint a favorite lime or silver birch, for he caught the individuality of a tree as some catch the individuality of a horse. How he managed it was something of a puzzle, for he never had painting lessons, his drawing was often wildly inaccurate, and, while his perception of a Tree Personality was true and vivid, his rendering of it might almost approach the ludicrous. Yet the character and personality of that particular tree stood there alive beneath his brush—shining, frowning, dreaming, as the case might be, friendly or hostile, good or evil. It emerged.

And finally, from Sand (1912)

Already something in himself had changed. A restlessness, as of that wandering wind, woke in his heart—the desire to be off and away. Other things could rouse this wildness too: falling water, the singing of a bird, an odour of wood-fire, a glimpse of winding road. But the cry of wind, always searching, questioning, travelling the world’s great routes, remained ever the master-touch. High longing took his mood in hand. Mid seven millions he felt suddenly—lonely.

“I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”

 

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Frederick Goddard Tuckerman

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman American (February 4, 1821 – May 9, 1873) Engraving c. 1835-1850 Photograph, taken on 06-30-2009, of engraving, reprinted in Eugene England's 1991 critical biography of Tuckerman entitled Beyond Romanticism -- the only known surviving image of the poet

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman American (February 4, 1821 – May 9, 1873) Engraving c. 1835-1850
Photograph, taken on 06-30-2009, of engraving, reprinted in Eugene England’s 1991 critical biography of Tuckerman entitled Beyond Romanticism — the only known surviving image of the poet

 

Two sonnets from American poet, Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, from the only collection published during his lifetime, Poems (1860).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN UPPER CHAMBER IN A DARKENED HOUSE

An upper chamber in a darkened house,
Where, ere his footsteps reached ripe manhood’s brink,
Terror and anguish were his cup to drink,—
I cannot rid the thought, nor hold it close;
But dimly dream upon that man alone;—
Now though the autumn clouds most softly pass;
The cricket chides beneath the doorstep stone,
And greener than the season grows the grass.
Nor can I drop my lids, nor shade my brows,
But there he stands beside the lifted sash;
And, with a swooning of the heart, I think
Where the black shingles slope to meet the boughs,
And—shattered on the roof like smallest snows—
The tiny petals of the mountain-ash.

 

SOMETIMES I WALK WHERE THE DEEP WATER DIPS

Sometimes I walk where the deep water dips
Against the land. Or on where fancy drives
I walk and muse aloud, like one who strives
To tell his half-shaped thought with stumbling lips,
And view the ocean sea, the ocean ships,
With joyless heart: still but myself I find
And restless phantoms of my restless mind:
Only the moaning of my wandering words,
Only the wailing of the wheeling plover,
And this high rock beneath whose base the sea
Has wormed long caverns, like my tears in me:
And hard like this I stand, and beaten and blind,
This desolate rock with lichens rusted over,
Hoar with salt-sleet and chalkings of the birds.

 

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