Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hair and Quill

There is a delicious moment when you are looking for one thing and stumble across something so wonderful that you can't quite believe that you have never seen it before.  This happened to me on Tuesday, while looking for pictures of Cleopatra.  I found one by a painter who had also tackled the subject of Paolo and Francesca...

Paolo and Francesca (1887) Gaetano Previata
Well, that's rather gorgeous, I thought, then looked for a good copy of the image to save for later.  I work on a little notebook computer so the screen is not exactly brilliant, but while squinting at the ones on offer, I saw this version...

At first I thought it was just a clearer version of the painting, but on opening it, I realised it was something more.  It is actually a photograph entitled The Lovers from 2010.  The artists are Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto and by the end of this post you will be in love with them too.

The Fairy Book
It would be easy to just bombard you with images of their work while flapping my hands and squealing, but I will try and string words together in the face of some of the most exquisite photography I have ever seen.  Feel free to fall in a swoon, yes even the gentlemen (all three of you).  Their use of light, the fidelity to the original image, all of it is just breath-taking.  Brace yourself, this has to be my favourite...

Daydream (2012)

Daydream D G Rossetti
Not only do I love this because it is Rossetti in photo form, but the cleverness of rendering a pencil sketch with limited colour into a photograph leaves me speechless.  Tania and Lazlo have created some of the most dreamy and swoon-worth images in their exhibition 'Dreams of Decadence'...

Young Decadent

I found the above image very Tissot-esque, one of his many pictures of Kathleen Newton, but actually it was one of many pictures inspired by the turn-of-the-century literary magazine Pèl & Ploma (Hair & Feather (pen/quill))...

Pèl & Ploma ran from 1899 to 1903 and was funded by the designer and illustrator Ramon Casa.  His rather louche ladies with their upswept hair are beautifully repeated in Tania and Lazlo's photos, for example this...

...becomes this....

Just too beautiful for words, as is this....

...which is referencing this...

Music Gustav Klimt
I think I am so overwhelmed because of the detail and care that has gone into breathing life into these paintings.  These aren't just copies, gimmicks in life, these are moments of art, caught on a canvas just as surely as if they had come from a brush rather than a camera.  

This image by Vittorio Corcos, entitled Dreams becomes a flawless photograph of such detail and care that it becomes hard to discern paint from pixel...

Corcos' Dreams becomes....

Dreams  by Tania Brassesco & Lazlo Passi Norberto
Take something as perfect and delicate as Herbert Draper's Pot Pourri...

Well, obviously that was going to turn out to be swoon-worthy.  Take a look at this and I dare you not to fall into a heap.  I dare you!

God, I love my job.  Insanely beautiful, all of it.

Lady Hat
It seems that the beautiful redhaired lady in the pictures is Tania Brassesco and she and Lazlo set up the image and he then takes the picture.  The two images above are homages to Summer (1878) by James Tissot and Lady with Hat and Feather Boa (1909) by Gustav Klimt.  If it is possible to be in love with a couple, then I love these talented photographic artists.

Maybe if I beg long and loud enough, they will have an exhibition in England because I need to see these pictures in person.  Plus I want The Lovers and Daydream hanging on my wall.



  1. Wow, that's alot of work... !!

  2. Dear Kirsty
    These images are amazing! The attention to detail, the way the original mood has been captured, the lighting...everything! I too would be squealing and flapping if I was at home. Tania has a chamaeleon-like face which can change to suit different styles too. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful find.
    Best wishes

  3. As one of your three gentleman, may I ask why no reference is made to Julia Margaret Cameron, whose photographs often featured literary and mythological subjects? Sylvia Wolf ("Julia Margaret Cameron's Women")shows several Pre-Raphaelite paintings for comparison. Julia even used some of the same models, not least Marie Spartali. And of course her niece Julia Princep Jackson (Virginia Woolf's mum) who appeared in Burne-Jones's "The Annunciation" as well as posing for Watts.

  4. Thanks for your comments! Anthony, yes I love JMC but she innovated rather than homage-d which is why I didn't include her (or any of the other lovely Pre-Raphaelite photographers). Mind you, I'm looking forward to a trip to Dimbola Lodge in a couple of weeks. Smashing stuff and I think her photograph of the Italian Man has to be one of the most swoon-worthy of all Victorian photos.

  5. I did not know about Dimbola Lodge but will put it on my to-do list. Angelo Colarossi was photographed by JMC and painted by Watts. The painting is in Ottawa (Portrait de jeune homme). Sorry for the French but my source is a catalogue from Musée d'Orsay that juxtaposes the two images. His shirt is unbuttoned in the painting... Anthony

  6. Wow wow wow! Flapping hands and squealing here! I want to do that! What a blast that must be to do that!

  7. They are all kinds of wonderful wrapped up in splendid paper!

  8. Woah! These are stunning. The pot pourri one, wow, imagine sitting there surrounded by all those roses.


  9. well, I don't want to be a party pooper but I must say the photos are good because the original paintings are good. 90% of the skill in painting is in the composition, so once somebody has done that all the artistic work has been done for you. Even painting a copy is a thousand times easier than creating an original. Sorry to be a wet blanket but I'm just sticking up for my fellow painters.

  10. Thanks for the comments David. I certainly would never claim the photos are better than the originals, and I don't think that is the ethos behind the photographs. I was simply celebrating the work of modern artists who love the Victorians as much as I do in a time when Victorian art isn't exactly fashionable (see 99% of all reviews of the recent Pre-Raphaelite exhibition). I do applaud the genius of turning a pencil sketch into a colour photograph, which is an entirely different skill than creating the art work in the first place. It is not original, you're right, and I apologize if you feel I was celebrating it as such. It is however a pleasant change to find modern artists celebrating all things Victorian.

  11. I love the interpretation, really gorgeous.

  12. I've ordered your book, and await its arrival with much anticipation! Not only that, I've plugged this page unashamedly on my FB page, so if there are strong vibrations from your electronic device when you log on, it's a whole raft of bods enjoying your wisdom and wit. With much affection, for many hours of delight! (you're getting this message twice, because I bunged it in on the previous entry. Doh!

  13. Blimey Robert, you made it to May! I feel some sort of medal should be awarded for endurance! Hope you enjoyed reading the work so far and again, I hope you enjoy the book (if you don't, tell no-one. Really.)


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Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx