Matisse the Master: The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954

bookshelves: published-2005, under-500-ratings, radio-4x, summer-2014, biography, art-forms, nonfiction

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 13 to 20, 2014


R4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076r2v

Description: “If my story were ever to be written down truthfully from start to finish, it would amaze everyone,” wrote Henri Matisse. It is hard to believe today that Matisse, whose exhibitions draw huge crowds worldwide, was once almost universally reviled and ridiculed. His response was neither to protest nor to retreat; he simply pushed on from one innovation to the next, and left the world to draw its own conclusions. Unfortunately, these were generally false and often damaging. Throughout his life and afterward people fantasized about his models and circulated baseless fabrications about his private life.

Fifty years after his death, Matisse the Master (the second half of the biography that began with the acclaimed The Unknown Matisse) shows us the painter as he saw himself. With unprecedented and unrestricted access to his voluminous family correspondence, and other new material in private archives, Hilary Spurling documents a lifetime of desperation and self-doubt exacerbated by Matisse’s attempts to counteract the violence and disruption of the twentieth century in paintings that now seem effortlessly serene, radiant, and stable.
Here for the first time is the truth about Matisse’s models, especially two Russians: his pupil Olga Meerson and the extraordinary Lydia Delectorskaya, who became his studio manager, secretary, and companion in the last two decades of his life.
But every woman who played an important part in Matisse’s life was remarkable in her own right, not least his beloved daughter Marguerite, whose honesty and courage surmounted all ordeals, including interrogation and torture by the Gestapo in the Second World War.

If you have ever wondered how anyone with such a tame public image as Matisse could have painted such rich, powerful, mysteriously moving pictures, let alone produced the radical cut-paper and stained-glass inventions of his last years, here is the answer. They were made by the real Matisse, whose true story has been written down at last from start to finish by his first biographer, Hilary Spurling.

Episode 1: 1909, and Henri Matisse’s critics call his paintings monstrous. Can he find support? Eleanor Bron reads.

Episode 2: 1914, and with his family scattered across France, Matisse expresses the horror and uncertainty of the First World War in his art.

Episode 3: 1930, and Henri Matisse’s painting is dramatically influenced by his visits to New York and Tahiti.

Episode 4: 1938, and now in his 60s, Henri Matisse’s art must endure personal upheaval as war looms.

Episode 5: Post-1945, Matisse applies his extraordinary scissor and paper technique to the design of the interior of the chapel at Vence.

4* Matisse the Master: The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954
4* Pearl Buck in China

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Mad Madge by Katie Whitaker

bookshelves: history, hardback, published-2002, stuarts, restoration, civil-war-english, biography, books-about-books-and-book-shops, summer-2014, skoolzy-stuff, one-penny-wonder, under-50-ratings, women

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Miss M
Recommended for: Wanda, Jemidar, Laura
Read from June 02 to 14, 2014

 

Description: Margaret Cavendish’s life as a writer and noblewoman unfolded against the backdrop of the English Civil War and Restoration. Pursuing the only career open to women of her class, she became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Henrietta Maria. Exiled to Paris with the Queen, she met and married William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle. In exile, Margaret did something unthinkable for a seventeenth-century Englishwoman: she lived proudly as a writer. Eventually she published twenty-three volumes, starting with Poems and Fancies, the first book of English poetry published by a woman under her own name. But later generations too easily accepted the disparaging opinions of her shocked critics, and labeled her “Mad Madge of Newcastle.”Mad Madge is both a lively biography of a fascinating woman and a window on a tumultuous cultural time.

After the Dissolution, St John’s Abbey and land, just outside the city walls of Colchester, was released for a tidy sum to private ownership. It was in this gatehouse that Thomas and Elizabeth raised their young, Margaret being the baby of the family.

Why isn’t this biography better known within the history lovers’ circle? Because of her prolific and thinly veiled scribblings of actual people and events there was little difficulty in finding so many facts to relate, and Ms Whitaker has done a fine job here in bringing something entirely palatable to the table. Heartily recommended.

TRIVIA: Literature of the Country House Week 1 Bolsover:

CR Mad Madge
TR A Royal Passion

A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen by Liel Leibovitz

bookshelves: published-2014, summer-2014, jewish, music, poetry, canada, biography, nonfiction, recreational-drugs

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 29 to June 06, 2014


BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0458063

Description: As Leonard Cohen turns 80, a new biography by Liel Leibovitz explores the life, work and passion of the poet-turned-musician. What makes Cohen such an enduring international figure in the cultural imagination?

Granted extraordinary access to Cohen’s personal papers, Leibovitz evokes a complicated, sometimes contradictory figure. Born into a Canadian religious Jewish family, for years a reclusive lyricist on the Greek island of Hydra, known for his bold political commentary, his devotion to Buddhist thought and his later despair over contemporary Zionism, Cohen hardly follows the rules of a conventional rock star.

Read by Julian Barrett, with Leonard Cohen quotes read by Colin Stinton.

Abridged by: Jo Coombs
Producer: Pippa Vaughan
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: An intimate look at a man who, despite battles with depression and years spent in hermit-like isolation, is still touring and now seems to be reaching a new peak of popularity. The loss of his father when he was just nine years old shaped the muscician forever.

Episode 2: Despite success as a poet, Cohen feels the need to escape to the Greek island of Hydra

Episode 3: Having altered the course of his life with the decision to start writing music, Cohen faces a creative struggle with those around him in the recording studio. Will the release of Bird on the Wire change his fortunes?

Episode 4: Disasters threaten Cohen’s first European tour, but in Buddhism he finds the spiritual solace which enables him to write the groundbreaking Hallelujah.

Episode 5: Cohen begins the 1990s as a hugely successful songwriter, poet and performer. Yet spiritual crises still plague him, and he retreats to the San Gabriel Mountains to spend time with his guru. By 2006, he’s forced to start touring again when evidence emerges that a long-time employee and friend may have stolen millions of dollars from him.

The music:

Story of Isaac
Hallelujah
So Long Marianne
Bird On A Wire
Suzanne
You know who I am
Avalanche
Lover, lover, lover
Dance Me to the End Of Love
GOING HOME which I could totally see Roger Waters covering

The Search for the Panchen Lama by Isabel Hilton

bookshelves: spring-2014, hardback, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, tibet, lifestyles-deathstyles, nonfiction, politics, philosophy, biography, buddhism, religion, history, journalism, published-1999

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Karen Witzler
Read from May 11 to 28, 2014

 

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

Withdrawn from Huntingdon Library.

Opening: Choekyi Gyaltsen, more widely known as the tenth reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, died on a freezing night in January 1989 in his own monastery of Tashilhunpo, in Tibet.

Tashilhunpo Monastery བཀྲ་ཤིས་ལྷུན་པོ་ོ་, Shigatse, Tibet

Page 18: ‘The Potala was built by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, the first of the Gelugpa hierarchs to assume secular power. His accession as King of Tibet in the seventeenth century had brought a measure of peace to a country riven for more than a hundred years by sectarian warfare.’

Firstly a thank you to Karen for for bringing this book to my attention.

This lengthy history is very interesting, however it is written in a non-linear way, making it hard to keep the facts straight. I especially enjoy that Ms Hilton recognises this growing Western trend of Dr. Martin wearing maroon-cloaked accolytes hanging on the robes of the court in exile. Example on Page 6: ‘The hotel* is the chief exhibition room for what the Dalai Lama’s brother, Tenzin Choegyal, later called the Shangri-La Syndrome – Westerners who are seeking answers to a variety of personal questions by means of the Tibetan Cause.’

*Hotel Tibet, Dharamsala

Overall though, this is not a book I would recommend other than to those with more than a passing interest, as the lay-out of information is too haphazard. One thing I did learn, and it is an important point, the young lad I spied overhead at Yonghegong must have been Gyaincain Norbu. So for that learning point alone this book has been useful.

TRIVIA

Bon or Bön also Bonism or Benism (Chinese: 苯教, Běnjiào) is the term for the religious tradition or sect of Tibet more accurately called Yungdrung Bon today.

Zezhol Monastery of the Tibetan Bon Religion at Dengqen County of Qamdo prefecture

The Tibetan Book of Proportions

Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2009, radio-4x, nonfiction, biography, lit-crit, books-about-books-and-book-shops, next

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 10 to 15, 2014


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kmzyv

Description: Alice Krige reads from Claire Harman’s exploration of Jane Austen’s rise to pre-eminence from humble family scribblings to Hollywood movies.

The myth of Jane Austen is of a demure spinster, unobtrusively writing masterpieces in the corner of the family sitting room. The reality was of an ambitious and spirited young woman who was part of a lively, bookish family and keenly attuned to the literary world of her time.

Episode 1: Alice Krige reads from Claire Harman’s exploration of Jane Austen’s rise to pre-eminence from humble family scribblings to Hollywood movies.

Episode 2: The last years of Jane Austen’s life were a period of concentrated writing and business with publishers. Though largely cut off from the fashionable literary world, her fame was nonetheless beginning to spread.

Episode 3: The 19th century taste for the great, sprawling novels of Dickens, Thackeray and others left Jane Austen in relative obscurity for some decades. But public interest flared up again with her nephew’s publication of the first biography in 1870, and gained a momentum that was now unstoppable.

Episode 4: By the early years of the 20th century, the cult of ‘Divine Jane’ had seized Britain and America. For the soldiers of the First World War, she came to represent an Englishness that was far removed from the terrible realities of life in the trenches.

Episode 5: The use of Jane Austen’s name knows no generic boundaries. At the beginning of the 21st century we are witness to the spectacle of the young woman who happily limited her scope to ‘three or four families in a country village’ being marketed as a global brand.

Not a biography, rather the Austen phenomenon down the ages and the impact of her six novels being a terrific money-spinner for TV and film industry today. A gossipy, vapid offering.

The Master and Mrs Tucker by Roy Apps

bookshelves: spring-2014, play-dramatisation, radio-4x, published-2008, biography

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 11 to 13, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00cz803

Description: The story of the friendship between Noel Coward and E Nesbit. Roy Apps’ play stars Guy Henry, Ann Bell and Rosemary Leach.

The music: Dance little lady – Noel Coward

Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore

bookshelves: spring-2014, paper-read, biography, history, one-penny-wonder, nonfiction, published-2009, under-1000-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Anna Matsuyama
Read from April 30 to May 12, 2014

 

Description: With the death of her fabulously wealthy coal magnate father when she was just eleven, Mary Eleanor Bowes became the richest heiress in Britain. An ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II, Mary grew to be a highly educated young woman, winning acclaim as a playwright and botanist. Courted by a bevy of eager suitors, at eighteen she married the handsome but aloof ninth Earl of Strathmore in a celebrated, if ultimately troubled, match that forged the Bowes Lyon name. Yet she stumbled headlong into scandal when, following her husband’s early death, a charming young army hero flattered his way into the merry widow’s bed.

Captain Andrew Robinson Stoney insisted on defending her honor in a duel, and Mary was convinced she had found true love. Judged by doctors to have been mortally wounded in the melee, Stoney persuaded Mary to grant his dying wish; four days later they were married.

Sadly, the “captain” was not what he seemed. Staging a sudden and remarkable recovery, Stoney was revealed as a debt-ridden lieutenant, a fraudster, and a bully. Immediately taking control of Mary’s vast fortune, he squandered her wealth and embarked on a campaign of appalling violence and cruelty against his new bride. Finally, fearing for her life, Mary masterminded an audacious escape and challenged social conventions of the day by launching a suit for divorce. The English public was horrified–and enthralled. But Mary’s troubles were far from over . . .

Opening quote is from ‘The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon Esq’ by William Makepeace Thackeray.

Opening: Settling down to read his newspaper by the candlelight illuminating the dining room of the Adelphi Tavern, John Hull anticipated a quiet evening.

Actively urged on by Anna, and Gerry’s current enthusiasm this has been picked as ‘next’. Ay-up, Susanna is reading it alongside too, which makes this incredibly spiffy all round.

An engrossing read, I just ate up the pages and now find there are a zillion other books that need reading, however most important is a re-read of Boswell’s ‘The Life of Samuel Johnson’.

Mary Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne

Gibside Hall today

Column of Liberty, Gibside

Clotworthy Skeffington. Later, 1st Earl of Massereene: 1744-46

Marriage à-la-mode : The Marriage Contract

The Tête à Tête from the Marriage à la Mode series (No. 2)

Painting cycle ” Mariage à la Mode “, scene: visit with the Quack Doctor

Marriage à-la-mode: The Countess’s Morning Levee

” Mariage à la Mode “, scene: The murder of the count

6. The Lady’s Death

Glammis Castle – don’t mention the Scottish Play