As some of you know, my life’s work has been in dance. First as a dancer and then as a choreographer. Along the way, I have also designed gardens and interiors, lectured on 18th- and 19th- century art and studied those things about which I am most passionate. Eighteenth-century France, especially in its art, has been a favorite…and the English Romantic poets have recently been pulling at my heart.
Here, I hope to carve out a place where I can gather thoughts on aesthetics…art, beauty, and truth. And yes, there will be poetry!
One of the greatest spokesmen on the value of poetry was the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850). He writes, “…the Poet, singing a song in which all human beings join the rock of defense for human nature; an upholder and
. .and preserver, carrying everywhere with him relationship and love.” These concepts of truth, human nature and social conscience are carried over from 18th-century French Enlightenment thinking. The pre-revolutionary thinkers (the philosophes) spoke of freedom as man’s natural right. And going back even farther, the artists of early 1700s France will break with tradition by pursuing beauty for beauty’s sake, thus setting into motion a wave of change in the zeitgeist of the time.
Beginning with the greatest of the rococo painters and draughtsman, Jean-Antoine Watteau, we will explore the work and lives of these remarkable artists. Watteau will usher in the 18th-century with complete artistic and philosophic abandon. Freedom to create art that is an expression of one’s own experience of beauty will replace the restrictive, hierarchical art of the previous era.
Our journey will take us to post-revolution England, where again it is the artists who usher in a philosophical movement – a revolution of sorts – in artistic sensibility. Here we will delve further into the work of Wordsworth and the Romantic poets. Wordsworth’s important treatise on poetry, written in the year 1800 and titled Preface to Lyrical Ballads, will leads us into this next era, which will later be coined Romanticism. In his Preface he writes, “…all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” He further goes on to discuss how poetic expression can elevate our empathy for mankind and thus allow us to fulfill our highest purpose: to enhance society as a whole. How wonderful and exciting it is to visit those moments in time where the soul is ignited through art and aesthetics. These are the moments that connect us to one another, and humankind as a whole.
Living in a society that praises the external over the internal, power and prestige over ethics, the material and physical world over values of love, beauty, and truth, we can find comfort in reading Wordsworth’s declaration of the value of feelings and their expression through poetry. His words strike the chords of truth. We will not stop with Wordsworth, however, but will journey through to the present where these enduring concepts continue to find expression.
Reader, I hope that your brief visit here will provide you with moments of inspiration… moments where we can connect on a level of soul. I believe – that when we share from a place of beauty and truth – we inspire each other to be our best, most alive, and authentic selves. I am happy to invite you to my newly-created Inspired by Beauty, A Journey Through Time – The Blog, Welcome!
THE COLORS OF ROCOCO
Seductive pastel colors, introduced by the decorative artists of late 1600s – early 1700s France, will usher in a tide of change. These chalky pastels find expression in art, interiors and fashion and become synonymous with 18th-century France and the rococo style. The above image is an exquisite example of a European stiff corset, called stays. It is dated 1660-1670 and is from the Victoria and Albert’s collection of historical dress.