Friday, 7 November 2014

The Satin Romance of Vittorio Reggianini

After all the dark and blustery weather we've been having I felt like doing a post on something light and pretty.  You catch me in a romantic mood so I think it's appropriate that I present the work of Vittorio Reggianini...

Who Wins?
Let the whimsy begin!  Reggianini was born in Northern Italy in 1853 but drew his lush inspiration from half a century before.  It's no coincidence that his images crop up on the covers of Georgette Heyer novels because that is what you are looking at.  This is a world of romance, of courtship, of flirtation and acres upon acres of satin...

An Illicit Letter
Do you know what your life is missing today?  It is missing a trio of giggling, shiny women with scooped necklines, little pointy shoes and a little bit of scandel. I want to know what the letter contains!  Does it read 'Dear Pinkie, What's going on with the side of your frock? Love, Your Concerned Suitor xxx'  I hope the lass on the left gets a squizz at the letter too, it seems unfair that she has to be lookout while the other two enjoy it.  Hang on...

The Letter
It's okay, she does.  The thing about Reggianini is that you could accuse him of being a bit same-y, and there are definite groupings of pictures.  You have the trio of saucy maidens, such as the two lots above, and these...

The Secret

Awaiting a Visit
The three graces appear in their palace-like home and enjoy intrigues and secrets and all manner of lovely shiny things.  They are adorable, but look how much fun it is when you lob a chap into the picture!

The Recital

Section two of the Reggianini album is entitled 'Women like a man who can play/read' or 'Look at the shine on his breeches!'  There are any number of images of a pair of young women admiring the young man who has come to entertain them.  It's all very lovely at that moment but you know hair pulling will ensue when they work out that both of them fancy the same chap.

Who Wins?
This one is very blatent in its message.  This young man can have a wife in pink or blue, although Pinkie is going the more direct route and has shut her fan.  Oh, hang on, don't the fan positions mean something?  Shut means 'I await your decision' or something and open means 'If you're getting up can you bring me some chips?' as far as I can remember.

The Reading
I believe it was Jane Austen who wrote 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you get a hot man in the room with a bunch of girls, it is on like Donkey Kong'.  There is no way this will end well and I personally worry for the poor man's safety.  Maybe the rug is a hint as to what happened to the last young poet who entered that room.  Also, why is he wearing spandex disco pants? 

Anyway, if you want a bit more action, Reggianini has an entire series of 'Oh no!' pictures of high drama...

A Shocking Announcement
What on earth has gone on here?  A chair has gone over, the maid is smiling and a chap has been forced to leave. The shame!  The horror!

A Music Scene
This young woman looks a little startled by the size of the chap's cello and her friend has passed out. Lawks!

A Flirtation
Good heavens, not in front of the good coffee service!  This pair look rather too jolly in their canoodling and should be careful.  All that satin, they'll be lucky if they don't just slide right off of each other.  Everyone just behave themselves for a moment!

Back on safer ground, Reggianini did a nice series of women with animals, like these gorgeous examples...

The Pet

Good Companions
My personal favourite has to be this one...

The Interruption
The elegance of the long limbed dogs perfectly complement the high-waisted dresses of their mistresses and the smooth coats glimmer like the satin that surrounds them.  I love The Interruption because there is a spontaneity of movement, a giggly connection to the audience that the others don't have.  We are part of that shiny satin world, if only for a moment, and we are invited in to join in its pastel perfection.  On such a gloomy, cold November afternoon I wouldn't mind pulling on a nice frock and enjoying some intrigues and flirtations.

Now, where did I put my fan?


  1. These are great fun! There's more than a hint of Circe about the girls with the dogs.

  2. A lot of these compositions remind me uncannily of Alma Tadema. Not sure if there are direct "quotes" but the feel of the pictures is the same, swapping togas for satin frocks of course.

  3. The classical hairdos do bring Alma Tadema to mind, plus of course there is the pleasant repetition of subject. I have to admit these cheered me up no end because they are so damn shiny and lovely.

    I wouldn't fancy any chap's chances against this bunch of women, Simon, Circe is about right!

  4. Darn! I typed up a very large comment and then it disappeared into the ether. Well, my main points were that the paintings in the background mimic the main scenes ("A Music Scene" especially) and that men wearing tight satin breeches really ought to send all the women into total confusion. Any woman who has ever worn satin knows how it shows every detail of what it's covering. Perhaps this accounts for all the giggles and fainting...

  5. Yes indeed, a handy guide to the mood of the scene (in case you were puzzled) is the background art. I do like a man in shiny disco breeches, it saves having to use your imagination!

  6. One thing I can say about artwork featuring lots of satin... they make great jigsaw puzzles! Very hard to do, because all the satin folds look like all the other satin folds. I regularly create and solve online jigsaw puzzles on a site called "Jigidi" - and the satin dress puzzles are some of the most enjoyable, imo. For some reason, the puzzles I enjoy creating are all vintage 1950s pictures, but the ones I like solving are these old paintings.

  7. Everything is so shiny in their world, it makes a contrast from the decidedly gloomy grey of Scotland today - it's all wet concrete, wet tarmac, grey sky full of wet, wet rain, and currently, a HouseCat hiding in the dry and admiring pretty art instead of going outside. All the 'sameness' of the painting just makes me want to treat them like they're all scenes from an extended narrative and write some interconnecting story that they can illustrate.

  8. There is something scandalous and sumptuous about the satin-y pictures and I agree, the reappearing figures does make it seem like a story unfolding with each scene. They cheer me up no end, so beautiful!

    Goodness, a jigsaw of them would be both infuriating and gorgeous!


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