Saturday, June 10, 2017

Paint Table Saturday: North West Frontier, Rolls-Royce cars, their famous mascot and some young ladies



Well, it always cheers me up when I finish a few figures, although it's nothing compared to Eric the Shed's complete French Chasseur brigade this week!  The six figures I finished yesterday completes the two 12 man units (plus the Sikhs which I have done already) of infantry I need for my initial The Men Who Would Be King force for the North-West Frontier; with just a mountain gun and crew to complete.  I have painted 82 figures this year. so far, which is my best total since 2014 and equals the amount of figures I did in the whole of 2013.  I hope I can keep the momentum up.




The question, now, is what do I do next?  I should really paint some more Confederate Infantry and I have some already started but as I only have the three Sikh gunners and the mountain gun to finish to complete the British force I am going to do them, I think.




 One of the Facebook groups I belong to is The Great British Hobbit League and looking at everyone else's Lord of the Rings figures is making we want to have a go at painting some more, if my eyes are up to it.  What I need to do is find some part painted figures to finish, which I know I must have somewhere (Men of Gondor?) but sitting behind my monitor for years are the trolls from the first Hobbit film.  One of these is well on the way so I may do something on that.  Talking to Guy today, I told him that they are releasing the Lord of the Rings Battle Companies rules in a book this year (they were only previously available on download).  Guy and I had a number of good games using these rules but I was amazed when he said that maybe we could have a game over the summer.  It would be fun to play some of these again! 


On the left the Director of Brooklands tries to recruit Charlotte into the team of volunteers at the museum while my mother in law and the Old Bat both know she is too lazy to get up in the morning


I've got a tricky work situation (don't worry I'm not going to go into tedious details) which means that I am waiting to do something but can't proceed until the client gets their contract signed.  So having expected to be working flat out this week I had rather more time than expected and could go with the family and the parents in law to the start of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club 60th anniversary tour of Britain, at Brooklands.  


My parents in law with Prince Michael of Kent 


My father in law has an old Bentley, of course, but is also a member of the RREC as he used to have a Rolls-Royce.  Anyway, he gave a speech to the members at their dinner this week, along with Prince Michael of Kent, who was there on Wednesday to send them all off to their first stop in Dorset.


The first Silver Ghost starts up the hill climb.  The lady in the passenger seat is frantically hand-pumping fuel to give the car the required boost.  They just made it!


Rather surprisingly, given some of these cars are more than a hundred years old and they are due to make a two week tour of Britain, they had a hill climb competition for the Silver Ghosts.  The Brooklands (it was the world's first purpose built motor racing circuit) test hill is very steep indeed but more than a dozen Silver Ghosts got up it.  


You're not going to make it!


The only failure was a lovely car driven by an American.  "Don't change gear on the hill", advised my father in law.  The American changed gear on the hill.  The car stopped,  He threw his wife out and tried to get going again. The car started to slide backwards.  They had to undertake a controlled backwards descent on the brakes (Silver Ghosts only have breaks on the rear wheels).  


Prince Michael of Kent drives R562 to Beaulieu


One of the Silver Ghosts, R562, had done the 2000 km Alpine Challenge back in 2013 (a hundred years after first completing it) which involved going over a host of Alpine passes including the dreaded Stelvio Pass (the second highest pass in the Alps, at 2757 metres) which the Giro d'Italia riders had struggled over a few weeks before.  Prince Michael of Kent drove it down to Beaulieu Motor Museum for lunch.


Eleanor Thornton with a tiny model of herself


It was the mistress of the second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. Eleanor Thornton, of course, who was the model for the Spirit of Ecstasy radiator ornament.  Lord Montagu met Eleanor in 1902, when she was a secretary at the motoring magazine he edited in.  


One of four bronzes made of  The Whisper by Sykes


In those days Rolls-Rovce cars didn't have an official radiator ornament so Lord Montagu commissioned his artist friend Charles Robinson Sykes to design one for his Silver Ghost in 1909.  Sykes used Eleanor as the model and produced a figure of her holding her finger to he lips.  It was dubbed 'The Whisper' in reference to their illicit affair. 


Sykes Bronze of the Spirit of Ecstasy


These ornaments were becoming more and more fashionable so in 1911 Rolls-Royce officially commissioned Sykes to produce an (optional at first) ornament for all their new cars.  Sykes again used Eleanor Thornton (in rather more clothed form) for the model and the Spirit of Ecstasy (originally called the Spirit of Speed) was born.


Charles Sykes drawing of Eleanor Thornton


Thornton didn't live to see herself becoming a global icon, sadly.  She was travelling with Lord Montagu on the P & O liner SS Persia, bound for India in December 1915 when it became the first passenger ship to be torpedoed (by the German submarine U38) without warning during WW1. 




The ship sank off the coast of Crete in less than ten minutes and 343 of the 519 on board drowned.  Only fifteen women on board survived and Eleanor Thornton was not one of them, although Lord Montagu did survive (he had his own custom designed life jacket) and his son, born nine years later, founded the National Motor Museum at the family home of Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire.




Today's music is an example of my collection of limited edition extended versions of some of my favourite soundtracks.  Last week I added the two disc version of James Horner's soundtrack for The Rocketeer (1991), one of my favourite pulp films (although Disney originally wanted to set it in the present day).  The Rocketeer is one of Horner's best soundtracks and the extended version includes his excellent pastiche of Korngold for the scene at the film studio. where villain Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) performs on a set largely inspired by The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) (for which Korngold won the best soundtrack Oscar).


September Morn (1912)


Today's wallpaper distraction is from the same period as The Spirit of Ecstasy and is by French painter Paul Émile Chabas (1869-1937) who was born in Nantes and trained under William-Adolphe Bouguereau.  He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1890 and was awarded a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Although he painted many portraits, he was best known for his pictures of women and girls bathing in lakes and pools.  Chabas took three years, working during the summers, to finish his most famous painting, September Morn.  The setting was Lake Annecy, in the mountains of Savoie and Chabas painted the background on location.  He finished the painting one morning in September 1912, hence the name. Who the model for the painting was has never been clear and several women claimed to be the subject.  In is possible the figure is actually based on two girls; one for the body and another for the head and it is likely that she was drawn in the studio not on location.


Chabas


The painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1912 where it won the Medaille d’Honneur, to critical acclaim. What happened next, however, was completely unprecedented and led to the picture playing a significant role in an early American censorship battle. In those days, popular paintings were often reproduced as prints. In March 1913 one of these reproductions of September Morn was being displayed in the window of Fred Jackson’s Art Store in Chicago.  A passing policeman saw it, decided it was obscene, and ordered Jackson to remove the picture from his window. This he did but soon put it back.  Spotting this, the police returned, bought a copy of the picture and presented it to the Mayor, Carter Harrison Jr.   Harrison was a reformer and in 1911 had established the Chicago Vice Commission.


Mayor Harrison and his wife in 1913 


Mayor Harrison agreed that the picture violated the municipal code, which banned the exhibit of “any lewd picture or other thing whatever of an immoral or scandalous nature.”  They prosecuted Jackson, much to the outrage of the local artistic community. Despite testimony from local worthies that the picture was immoral and shouldn’t be viewed by children under fourteen the jury, after only thirty minutes deliberation, unanimously acquitted Jackson who immediately presented each juror with a copy of the painting, which they all gratefully received. This decision led to numerous shops displaying the picture so that the city then had to specifically forbid the display of “nude pictures in any window, except at art or educational exhibitions.”  Needless to say this just increased interest in the painting. The city appealed but in May 1914 the First District Appelate Court ruled that the picture was not indecent, although they made cutting comments regarding its exploitation. Only two months after the initial Chicago controversy, in May 1913, a similar furore took place in New York. Tipped off, it is said, by a school teacher, Anthony Comstock, the head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice entered the Braun & Co art dealers’ showroom where September Morn was on display in the window. He ordered the removal of the picture. James Kelly the salesman on duty informed Comstock that the picture was “the famous September Morning”.  Kelly allegedly replied that “There’s too little morning and too much maid.”  Kelly’s boss then later ordered the picture back into the window where it remained for five days, whilst the gallery expected the return of Comstock any day. In the end Braun & Co took the picture down themselves as the crowds it was drawing were interfering with normal customers and they'd sold all their prints anyway.. The manager of the gallery wrote an incensed letter to the New York Times and arguments raged about the picture all over America.  In December 1914 the students of a college in Ohio publicly burnt copies of the picture, along with other erotic literature and other questionable (by their standards) pictures.


Ann Pennington 


All of this just generated huge publicity for the picture. Millions of prints (some estimate as many as seven million) were sold and it was reproduced on postcards, bottle openers, cigar bands, umbrellas, watch fobs, chocolate boxes and many others. A song was written about it, there was an onstage recreation of it in the Ziegfield Follies (by the petite, 4’10”dancer Ann Pennington) and it was even the subject of a Broadway musical. It is also generally believed to have been the first nude picture on a calendar to go on sale.  Chabas himself never made any money from all these reproductions, although he did sell the original to a Russian collector, Leon Mantacheff, for the not inconsiderable sum of $10,000. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York because the Philadelphia Museum of Art had turned the picture down because it had “no significance”.


Hugh Hefner prepares to test his 'It's all art' argument using the Playboy Playmate of the Month for January 1958 and September Morn


Twenty-one years after Chabas’ death, September Morn was set to be involved in another indecency trial, oddly, also with a Chicago connection.  Hugh Hefner had been publishing Playboy there for just over four years and the authorities had constantly tried to stop him. His Playmate of the Month for January 1958 gave them another chance to have a go at him. Rather naively, Playboy though that because a mother gave permission for her daughter to pose and because she accompanied her to the photo session, no-one would care that college girl Elizabeth Ann Roberts was only 17 at the time (some even say 15 or 16 -i t does look like her mother claimed she was 18).


Roberts.  Not very old at all, really


Her pictorial's title of "Schoolmate playmate" probably didn't help and a local newspaper wrote a column condemning Playboy for having someone so young appearing in the magazine.  As a result, both Playboy and Roberts' mother were charged with 'contributing to the delinquency of a minor'. Hefner planned to defend himself using the fact that the model for September Morn, which had been deemed not indecent in Chicago some forty years before, was also believed to have been a teenage girl (fifteen years old, Chabas once said, although his comments were not necessarily reliable). In the end ,Hefner didn't get the chance to rail against censorship in court, as the case was dropped for lack of evidence. Playboy had learned its lesson, however, and immediately insisted all its models had to be 18 years or over (at least when the magazine appeared on sale - several more seventeen year olds were photographed for the centrefold in ensuing years) from then on.

4 comments:

  1. Excellent progress on your TMWWBK force and congrats on your output :)

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  2. Lovely figures and looking forward to seeing that troll painted up. As usual a very interesting blog.
    Cheers
    Dan

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  3. Paint table has a nice variety of figures on it. Love the old cars as well they certainly don't make them like that any more.

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