M. FORD CREECH ANTIQUES & FINE ARTS
 

www.mfordcreech.com

 

 


 

VENUS, & COMPANY,

on LIFE! HEARTS & LAUGHTER

 

"So Christmas - if it’s anything at all…

…Way down

in the human heart

we all share -

'Life'"

(From 'The Christmas Song', Greg Brown, American Singer-Songwriter)

 

Have you ever considered

just how many celebrations and holidays we have surrounding

"hearts"… and "life"!

 

Carlo Dolci, Study for 'The Allegory of Sincerity', c1665, (British Museum).

 

It started with the ancients - celebrating life, seasons - and, of course, food!

Thousands of years have shown only minor variances.

Here (today - in America)…

January begins with newness…the year, and new life, the Epiphany.

It continues with St. Valentines…about the romance of the heart.

The next being Passover and Easter…about preserving life, its death and resurrection.

Then May and June reserving the places in our hearts for Mothers and Fathers;

And the love of our country in July.

Labor Day follows…hopefully you love your work! Then it is not 'work'.

October is Halloween…honoring the love for the departed - and candy!

 Thanksgiving…thankfulness for all we love -

 (and without doubt the love of food!)

 

Then comes the December Christmas celebration…

about a different kind of love :

A celebration embracing 'Humankind' ...'Life'…

people - known and unknown, principles, traditions, our place in history…

even reckoning with the mind-boggling universe and existence of our planet :

  

Music please...(imaginary)...

 Mr. Idle, Mr. Jones :

 

"The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding

In all of the directions it can whizz

As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,

Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.

 

TERRY JONES, ERIC IDLE PICTURE FROM THE RONALD GRANT ARCHIVE Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (BR1983),RGR Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,

How amazingly unlikely is your birth,

And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,

'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth."

 

… and quite hopefully …

Much...LAUGHTER!

 


 

VENUS :

 

The goddess Venus has, since Roman times, been associated with

the more 'lyrical' aspects of life -

love, hearts and beauty.

 

Venus, Roman goddess of love, Illumination from the French 'L'Épître Othéa', British Library

Above is an early 15th century illumination of Venus,

receiving human hearts for safekeeping -

and the perception and creation of love - and of beauty.

She and her attending cherubs have inspired

centuries of passions in artists, poets, musicians - and lovers.

Countless times, Venus has been honored in all the arts -

usually with great sensuality.

Below is an extremely alluring and extraordinarily well painted example (yes, for sale) :

 

Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Pena, Venus Surrounded by Cherubs, Signed, Dated '54; exhibited Exhibition of the French Masters, 1951

'Venus Surrounded by Cherubs'

Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Pena (French 1808-1876) (Attr.)

Oil on Panel over Pencil

Signed Lower Center N. Diaz and dated 54

Exhibition of the French Masters, 1951, No. 18; Marlborough Fine Art, London

 

Signature and date '54. 'VENUS SURROUNDED by CHERUBS', NARCISSE VIRGILE DIAZ DE LA PEÑA, Exhibited : Exhibition of the French Masters, 1951, No. 18; Marlborough Fine Art, Londo

 


 

The Greek island of Cythera, was thought to be the birthplace of - and sacred to - Venus,

and where everyone is supposed meet his or her most ideal partner -

although it is noted that most departed with a different partner than entering!

Their winged guide to the island was Venus’ offspring & best ally - Cupid.

 

EARLY QIANLONG CHINESE EXPORT ENCRE DE CHINE PLATE : 'Les Pelerins De L'Isle De Cythere', c1745

"Les Pelerins De L'Isle De Cythere", c1745

Early Qianlong Chinese Export Encre de Chine Plate

European market, after an engraving celebrating "Love",

by Bernard Picart (1673-1733),

painted in grisaille, gilt and iron red, the central roundel depicting

a heart-decorated 'Cupid' with flaming torch

guiding a 'pilgrim' couple to travel by boat to the Isle of Cythera,

En route, they share great hopes - along with a jug of wine.

 

Central Roundel, EARLY QIANLONG CHINESE EXPORT ENCRE DE CHINE PLATE : 'Les Pelerins De L'Isle De Cythere', c1745

 


 

However...VENUS was also said to be quite 'LAUGHTER-LOVING'!

C. S. Lewis once wrote that it is never wise to be 'totally serious about Venus'.

In fact, some of the greatest humorists have been quite loyal devotees to the Goddess.

Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python) not only chose as their BBC logo

the foot of Cupid from Bronzino's 'Allegory of Venus and Cupid'...

 

'Venus, Cupid, Time & Folly', Agnlo Bronzino, Florence, mid-16th century; National Galleries, London

 

Monty Python's iconic symbol; Creative Commons

...but when asked whether 'Venus' (Botticelli's) represents 'the ultimate male fantasy',

Gilliam immediately replied :

'Oh, why not? You can’t do better than that!'

 

Since 1969, the singular 'Monty Python' group has espoused copious 'divergent points of view'.

For your 'edification' - and Yuletide Laughter - a few of their unforgettable

(printable) concepts regarding selected topics - and 'Life!' - will be forthwith interspersed...

...in orange (well, the last and maybe the best one in red)...

...and beginning with...

 


 

ATTAINING WISDOM :

 

'Life has a very simple plot.

First you’re here, and then you’re not.'

 

Charles II Biblical Stumpwork & Needlework on Silk, Baroque Carved Wooden Frame, Solomon & Sheba

Charles II Biblical Stumpwork & Needlework on Silk

Housed in a Baroque Carved Wooden Frame with Early Glass

England, c17th Century

The Queen of Sheba kneels before a crowned King Solomon.

 Solomon was reputed to be the wisest man in the known world.

It is said that the Queen traveled for 6 months across the hot desert, with her retinue and laden

with spices and gifts, all to test the wise Solomon with 'hard questions'.

Solomon, in is wisdom, answered them to her satisfaction -- and she went back home.

(First Kings 10, and Chronicles 9)

 

'Mrs Hendy : Oh! I never knew that Schopenhauer was a philosopher!

Mr Hendy : Oh, yeah! He's the one that begins with an S, like Nietzsche.

Mrs Hendy : Does Nietzsche begin with an S?

Mr Hendy : There's an S in Nietzsche.

Mrs Hendy : Oh, wow! Yes there is. Do all philosophers have an S in them?

Mr Hendy : Yeah, I think most of them do.

Mrs Hendy : Oh. Does that mean Salena Jones is a philosopher?

Mr Hendy : Right, she could be.

She sings about 'the meaning of life'.'

 


 

On BENEVOLENCE and SHARING :

 

In typical fatherly fashion, King of Swamp Castle

(pointing to the window and expounding on his son’s eventual inheritance)

repeated the familiar phrase : 'One day, son, all this will be yours'.

What?...The curtains?'

 

Large Manganese & Yellow Lobed Dutch Charger, Netherlands, c1680-90, in manganese, yellow and bright blue

Large Manganese & Yellow Lobed Dutch Charger

Netherlands, c1680-90

In manganese and yellow edged in bright blue,

depicting Chinese figures in a landscape before a stream

bordered by draped 'curtains', panels of flora and further figures - and more 'curtains';

the verso with manganese X's and O's - obviously a nod to Venus

 


 

REGARDING NUTS… & ORNITHOLOGY :

 

'King Arthur : We have ridden the length and breadth of the land in search of knights

who will join me in my court at Camelot.

Guard : What? Ridden on a horse?

King Arthur : Yes!

Guard : You're using coconuts!

King Arthur : What?

Guard : You've got two empty halves of coconut and you're bangin' 'em together'

 

George III Silver-Mounted and Crestee Coconut Cup (Goblet), Josiah Snatt, London 1813

George III Silver-Mounted Coconut Drinking Goblet

Josiah Snatt, London, 1813

An elegant silver-mounted coconut drinking cup,

the rim crested with a lion rampant; the scalloped silver base-mount

descending to a graceful silver pedestal stem and circular reeded foot

 

'Guard : Where'd you get the coconuts?

King Arthur : We found them.

Guard : Found them? In Mercia?! The coconut's tropical!'

 

   18th Century Silver-Mounted Coconut Cup, Double Crested for the famlies of Lee and Guinness

18th Century British Silver-Mounted Coconut Cup

This 'tropical' coconut raised - symbolically - on three shell-headed hoofed feet,

the shaped silver rim crested with a wild boar - and a rather large bird (see below) -

(crests for the families of Lee and Guinness)

 

'King Arthur : The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin or the plover

may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?

Guard : Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?

King Arthur : Not at all. They could be carried.

Guard : What? A swallow carrying a coconut

King Arthur : It could grip it by the husk!....

Guard : A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.

Guard 2 : It could be carried by an African swallow!

Guard 1 : Oh yeah. An African swallow, maybe -- but not a European swallow, that's my point.'

 

First Period Worcester 'Jabberwocky' Oval Moulded & Fluted  Dish, c1768-70

First Period Worcester Oval Moulded & Fluted Jabberwocky Pattern Dish

England, c1768-70

Painted with a fanciful large 'dragon-like bird',

so re-named after Lewis Carroll’s famous 'Jabberwock' - remember 'Alice'?)

 the wide oval dish having a barbed rim & centering perchance... 

a tropical COCONUT?

 


 

On 'ARISTOCRATIC' HERITAGE :

 

'French : Your motha was a hamster and your fatha smelled of hoozenberries!!!'

 

Chelsea Brown Anchor 'Hans Sloane' Plate, Loganberry Leaves & Fruits, London, c1756

Chelsea Brown Anchor 'Hans Sloane' Plate

London, 1756

The shaped dish having a brown line rim centering boldly painted loganberry leaves and fruits

among the particular insects who would have fertilized them

Brown Anchor Mark

 

'King Arthur : I am your king.

Woman : Well, I didn't vote for you.

King Arthur : You don't vote for kings.

Woman : Well how'd you become king then?

King Arthur : The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite,

held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying

by 'Divine Providence' that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.'

 

( 'Divine Providence'...Oops!...)

 

'Dennis : I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an emperor just because some

moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!'

 

 A George III Cut & Engraved Sugar Loaf Decanter, c1770

&

A George III Engraved Opaque Twist Stem Wine. c1765

"Jacobite Interest"

The decanter engraved with two single stems, each issuing

two polished 6-petaled roses, a single bud, and a 4-petaled rose

each of the two stems with a closed bud and an opening four-petal buds,

The glass engraved with a partially open 6-petaled rose in profile

 and closed bud on a stem with 6 leaves 

 

('Oops!' : 'Divine Providence' and 'Godly appointment'

was more or less the 'way of the world' for rulers, from Biblical days...

...until the 17th century, when all changed.

 'Divine Right'  for British monarchs was challenged and put to an end.

The very last to defend British 'Divine Right' was the grandson of James II,

'Bonnie Prince Charlie'  & his Jacobite followers.

Their struggle to restore the 'Divine Right' of Stuart kings met with final defeat

at Culloden, Scotland (1746).  The Prince's efforts have become legendary  -

and are oft celebrated - even to this day - and with use - of glassware!)

 


 

TRAVELING :

 

'The First Man to Jump the English Channel' :

'Interviewer : Ron, now let's just get this quite clear - you're intending to jump across the English Channel?

Ron Obvious : Oh yes, that is correct, yes.

Interviewer : And, er, just how far is that?

Ron Obvious : Oh, well it's 26 miles from here to Calais.

Interviewer : And that's to the beach of Calais?

Ron Obvious : Well, no, no, provided I get a good lift off and maybe a gust of breeze over the French coast,

I shall be jumping into the centre of Calais itself.'

 

Stormy Seas Outside Calais, last scene in Costa Scena : A Cruise Along the Southern Coast of Kent, Strip Panorama, Scenes taken from nature by Robert Havell Jr., 1823

Costa Scena : A Cruise Along the Southern Coast of Kent

A Cased Strip Panorama

"Dedicated to His Most Gracious Majesty George IV"

The Scenes Taken from Nature By Robert Havell Jr., Published London, 1823,

the 18.25 foot long aquatint depicting (from moving viewpoints) the departure of George IV

on his momentous State visit to Scotland, 23 August 1822.

The scroll ends with gusty breezes and stormy seas, encountered by Havell's ship -

just outside Calais.  

 

The outer lacquered case and inscribed title page, Costa Scena : A Cruise Along the Southern Coast of Kent, Strip Panorama, Scenes taken from nature by Robert Havell Jr., 1823

 


 

'And In Seeking The Grail' :

'Head Knight : The Knights Who Say Ni demand a sacrifice!

King Arthur : Knights of Ni, we are but simple travelers who seek the enchanter who lives

beyond these woods--

Knights who say Ni : NI! NI! NI! NI!

King Arthur : Oh, ow!

Head Knight : We shall say "Ni" again to you, if you do not appease us.

King Arthur : Well, what do you want?

Head Knight : We want... a shrubbery!!'

 

Rare Diminutive Yongzhend Blue & White Lotus-Moulded Teapot, China ,1723-35, with outset scrollwork to the base

Rare Diminutive Yongzheng Blue & White Moulded Teapot

China, 1723-1735

With a very nice shrubbery.... blooming!

The teapot lobed, in the form a closed lotus - a lovely extra bonus!

and having rare applied and outset scrollwork on the teapot base

 

 


 

THE WEATHER :

 

Then a cold year passed (whilst on their search to find the enchanter - and the grail).

Apparently the other seasons got mixed up

and all the seasons kept changing back into winter at the wrong time...

until one day...

 

Evangelista Torricelli moved to Florence & constructed a 35 foot high barometer

that rose to the roof of his house, with a wooden mannequin atop (shown below),

bobbing up and down,  making people think he was practicing witchcraft -

- when all he really wanted was to get the weather right :

 

Engraving showing Evangelista Torricelli's mid-17th century 35' high barometer, with wooden mannequin atop 

Good George III Inlaid Mahogany Straight Tube (Stick) Barometer

London, 1770

Signed J. Hilliard, the silvered register with vernier sliding scale behind hinged glazed door,

the mercury thermometer also behind a further hinged glazed trunk door,

the entire case edged in intricate inlaid checker-banding.

(As in today's agrarian economies,

predicting weather changes was vital to landowners of 18th century England.)

 


 

"...AND MERRIMENT!!"

 

'We're Knights of the 'Round' Table,

We dance whene'er we're able.

We do routines and chorus scenes

With footwork impec-cable,

We dine well here in Camelot,

We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot

...And push the pram a lot.'

 

Good George II / III Mahogany Kettle (Wine) Stand

England, c1755-65

Of well figured timbers retaining the original surfaces,

the octagonal top with original gallery

above a tapering and ring-turned standard with urn knop.

Small tripod tables in original state, with original surfaces and without damage

- much less with an original gallery -

are increasingly difficult to find.

These stands fill all manner of functions - not just holding kettles and wine!

 


 

"Lady Presenter: Well, that's the end of the film.

Now, here's 'the meaning of life'.

(She is handed a gold-wrapped booklet)

Lady Presenter : Thank you, Brigitte.

(She clears her throat, then unwraps and examines the gilt booklet)

Lady Presenter : Well, it's nothing very special.

 

'Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat,

read a good book every now and then, get some walking in,

and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations...'

 

Dancers, Romance of Alexander, (MS Bodi, folio 51v, lower border); Flemish, mid-14th Century; The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Flanders, 1344 by Jehan de Grise’.©

(......and some script much better left out......)

 

Oh, well, there we are. Here's the theme music...

goodnight..."

 

 

... GOODNIGHT!...

And A VERY 'MERRIMENT' CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

 


 

 Venus Riding a Stag, Augsburg Germany, c1464; Ms. Ludwig XII 8, fol. 50v.

 

A crowned Venus rides across the heavens riding an antlered stag,

carrying an arrow and a hawk, a star (the planet Venus) in the upper right.

Venus is portrayed in a number of ways - one being riding a stag in white clothing, with hair flowing,

with an apple and a mirror. No commentary could be found as to the meaning of Venus with the Stag.

However the Stag has long been a symbol of protection and sexuality.

They are extremely devoted to the care, and creation, of children.

The deer or stag is, as well, an ancient symbol of the winter solstice and Christmas itself.

 


 

With Special Thanks To :

 

Greg Brown : "Christmas Song" (by special permission)

"Dream City, Essential Recordings Vol. 2", released 2009 ©

 

 RGR Collection / Alamy : Eric Idle; Eric in a pink morning suit, singing various statistics about the galaxy

to Mrs. Brown (Terry Jones); "Monty Python's Meaning of Life", Alamy Stock Photo ©

 

 

The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford :  Dancers, Romance of Alexander,

(lower border from MS Bodi 264, folio 51v) Flemish, mid-14th Century; (by permission) ©

 

Lyric & Script Excerpts : Creative Commons

 

Click Here  for Image Legend & Full License Information

 


 

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Venus, & Company, on Life, Hearts, & Laughter! ; M. Ford Creech Antiques