5.0604 Sidney Bookplate; Goya's Majas (2/63)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 16 Jan 1992 19:47:06 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0604. Thursday, 16 Jan 1992.

(1) Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1992 14:04:30 -0500 (21 lines)
From: warkent@epas.utoronto.ca (Germaine Warkentin)
Subject: Sidney Bookplate

(2) Date: Tue, 14 Jan 92 08:39:12 EST (42 lines)
Subject: Goya's majas

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1992 14:04:30 -0500
From: warkent@epas.utoronto.ca (Germaine Warkentin)
Subject: Sidney Bookplate

Bob Dawson asks for a description of the "Sidney bookplate."
Actually, it's the bookplate of Philip, 5th earl. One of the
aggravating things about the earlier Sidneys is that they seem not to
have put very many marks of ownership in their books. Robert Sidney
(d. 1626) signed some of his books at an early date, but his son
Robert the second earl (the great collector) seems not to have. There
are no library or shelf-marks that I have been able to detect on the
few copies of Sidney family books which I have been able to see. The
bookplate of the 5th earl (which I cannot describe in proper heraldic
terms) displays a shield with the Sidney arrow-head on it, with a
coronet and helm above, and two beasts, rampant, flanking it on either
side. The motto is "Quo fata vocant," and the cartouche below
contains the following: "The Righ Honble. Philip Sydney / Earle of
Leicester Viscount Lisle and / Baron Sydney of Penshurst 1704" It is
illustrated on p. 262 of the _Bulletin_ of the Printing Historical
Society (# 20, January, 1987). Germaine Warkentin <warkent@epas.utoronto.ca>

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------48----
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 92 08:39:12 EST
Subject: Goya's majas

According to Luca de Tena & Mena's catalog to the Prado, Goya's
clothed and nude maja pictures caused controversy for a number
of reasons besides their steady regard of the spectator (a
device, after all, that is used in a number of striking ways in
Velazquez's "Las Meninas" Źwhich was done nearly 150 years
earlier and which many Spaniards consider their greatest
painting┘). For one, there is the supposed connection between
the subject of the painting and the Duchess of Alba, one of
Spain's most influential women (who did not actually look all
that much like the face of the maja if we can judge by
attributed portraits) and the rumored intimacy between Goya
and the duchess. Second, there is the belief that the paintings
were originally done for a double-frame in which one would
cover the other (a speculation supported by the conflict these
works had with the Inquisition).

As a critique of spectatorial appropriation, is seems to me
marvelous that any direct observation of the paintings shows
that the handling of the clothing, with its conspicuous sheen
and flowing folds, is much more sensuous and caressing--that
is, the male artist is taking greater liberties here--than the
handling of the flesh of the nude. (I can't help but note the
metaphor "handling" itself in this "regard"--in two senses of
*that* word, too.) I am suggesting that the mere regard by the
model of the spectator is not so surprising as it is a sign
that we are to consider the issue of spectating and then see
this enacted in the more sensuous regard of the artist for the
vagaries of light and texture in the cloth than in the woman's

(But perhaps these comments, although motivated by a posting on
HUMANIST, belong elsewhere? Are we to stick to print and ASCII
forms? My preference would be to be more capacious.)

Eric Rabkin esrabkin@umichum.bitnet
Department of English esrabkin@um.cc.umich.edu
University of Michigan office: 313-764-2553
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1045 dept : 313-764-6330