Wednesday, 3 June 2009
My last post featured Slim Aaron's photograph of the New Year's Eve party hosted by Gilbert and Kitty Miller in 1953. Under the Goya portrait are Mrs. Randolph Hearst and friends including Elsa Maxwell 'in what friends describe as her standard pose'.
The portrait is now in the possession of The Metropolitan Museum of Art NY and I quote their description (I couldn't have put it better myself).
This portrait represents the son of the conde de Altamira. Outfitted in a splendid red costume, Don Manuel is shown playing with a pet magpie (which holds the painter's calling card in its beak), a cage full of finches, and three wide-eyed cats. In Christian art, birds frequently symbolize the soul, and in Baroque art caged birds are symbolic of innocence. Goya may have intended this portrait as an illustration of the frail boundaries that separate the child's world from the forces of evil, or as a commentary on the fleeting nature of innocence and youth. The picture is one of several portraits commissioned by the Altamiras after Goya was appointed painter to the king (1786). It may have been executed after the child's death in 1792, since the imagery and sinister undertone seem more characteristic of Goya's works of the 1790s.
Credits: Slim Aarons: Once Upon A Time pub. Getty Images and Harry N Abrams Inc New York, 2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art