January 4, 2020

There's something I do every day that if you do it too you'll know why I'm looking at this picture today.



That's "Portrait of a Lady (formerly incorrectly identified as Christina of Denmark, Dowager-Duchess of Milan and Lorraine [1521–1590])" at the Wikipedia article "Bobbin lace" ("Bobbin lace is a lace textile made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread, which are wound on bobbins to manage them. As the work progresses, the weaving is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow, the placement of the pins usually determined by a pattern or pricking pinned on the pillow. Bobbin lace is also known as pillow lace, because it was worked on a pillow, and bone lace, because early bobbins were made of bone or ivory.")

Anyway, I love the painting — the fabulously homely face and the elaborate detail to the clothing.

88 comments:

Rob said...

Yes, I do the NYT crossword puzzle each night when it’s published at 10 PM Eastern Time.

exhelodrvr1 said...

You do that to relieve stress, right?

Rob said...

Except of course on weekends when it’s published at 6 PM. But what’s destroyed my sleep patterns is the Spelling Bee puzzle which doesn’t come online until 3 AM. Addictive.

robother said...

Ummm. pluck your eyebrows?

Lincolntf said...

I do the Wall St. Journal crossword in spates. Today I have all day to kill waiting for the Patriots game at 8, so it's a good day for one.

Tom T. said...

Ann, knowing some of your commenters, I don't think you want to have them telling you what they do every day while looking at portraits of ladies. ;-)

Lyle said...

Tryout the Daily Art app. It's free and the Polish art historians who started it do a good job of selecting the artwork.

traditionalguy said...

Not a bad looking silver fox. She still has her red hair and she is flat chested. But her face shows an intelligent person who is open to talk. So who cares about the rest.

Robert Cook said...

The woman in the portrait is certainly not homely, "fabulously" or otherwise. She is a woman in middle age or later who was probably quite attractive in her youth. She still looks handsome and distinguished, and, as traditionalguy points out, she radiates intelligence.

gspencer said...

"Today I have all day to kill waiting for the Patriots game"

Bill to the team, "Alright, listen up. All we gotta do is win 4 more games. That's it. Piece of cake."

JML said...

"...fabulously homely face..."

Does the inclusion of the adjective negate the rest of the descriptive and make it OK to implying someone is ugly? OR, is the double meaning actually a compliment to her beauty?

Curious minds want to know.

Phidippus said...

In India, when young men place personal ads looking for an eligible young lady to marry, they often say they are looking for a "homely" girl.

Over there, that means one who wants to stay home and run the household.

mockturtle said...

Ah, corsets!

MadisonMan said...

Is the 'go to random wikipedia link' still there on the website?

Phidippus said...

AA "There's something I do every day..."

Look out the window with a fixed expression while preparing to topple a lamp table?

That's always a good attention-getter when Meade is slow with the breakfast service.

Sebastian said...

"There's something I do every day that if you do it too you'll know why I'm looking at this picture today."

No, I don't add elaborate detail to my clothing to make up for a fabulously homely face.

Sorry, sorry.

Leland said...

You have back problems associated with old age so occasionally grasp the back of a chair and get that constipated look as you figure out how to stretch that slipped disk?

Temujin said...

Homeliness is next to Godliness.

"Today I have all day to kill waiting for the Patriots game at 8."

As a Lions fan I have all spring to wait until April for yet another screwed up draft pick. 63 years and counting. Aaargh.

tcrosse said...

"The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
While combing my hair, now
And wondering what dress to wear, now
I say a little prayer for you."

I'm touched.

Seeing Red said...

Think about her clothing. All that done by hand.

Iman said...

Intricacy of Clothing.

The Dowager Duchess is a dead ringer for Meryl Streep.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I too think Althouse is being unfair in her description.

The painting looks like an actress. I can't think of her name but she always plays sassy older women. I think she is a Dame. I wish I could think of her name so I could go look at her younger photos.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Sebastian:

Ouch!

Lincolntf said...

My condolences, Temujin.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

There's something I do every day that if you do it too you'll know why I'm looking at this picture today.

Dress up all in lace and go in style?

tcrosse said...

She looks a bit like Agnes Moorehead, and a bit like Tom Steyer.

Big Mike said...

The face may not be attractive by modern standards (standards do change over time), but the artist put intelligence into her eyes.

Sydney said...

@Bill, Republic of Texas - Dame Maggie Smith?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Yes!

It's the eyes.

robother said...

Intelligent, yes, but I wouldn't let Toto get too near her.

roadgeek said...

"...fabulously homely face ..."

Ben Franklin, a notorious rake, is reputed to have said about ugly women that "all cats are grey in the dark". I've also heard it said about plain women that "it's all pink in the middle", but I doubt Franklin said that.

wildswan said...

Check out if that dress still fits?

Howard said...

Any would have a severe pinched look wearing a corset forcing your waist to be about 17 in in diameter.

That lace looks very nice it is very difficult to paint well

rhhardin said...

Rush wanted to know why homely and comely weren't pronounced the same.

reader said...

My 3rd great grandmother was homely. She had a high forehead and very fine and very thin hair. The women in my family have been dealing with her hair for generations. In my direct line of descent I am the first woman to have a lot of hair. I still have the high forehead and baby fine hair.

When I look at her picture I worry that she seems so somber. I have a sampler that she stitched just after her marriage in 1839. She was sixteen. From correspondence I know that my 3rd great grandfather was bereft after she died in 1900.

Ultimately, I don’t think these women are homely. I think we have bee ingrained to find beauty in darkened eyebrows, lashes covered with mascara, and lipstick painted lips.

NCMoss said...

In those days, she had to wake up extra early to jog to the lake and paint a picture of the sunrise.

wildswan said...

Though both are Germanic words the initial vowel we write as "o" was different in the beginning - in one it was "ae", the other "u" or "o". Time does this to languages, philology tells us. Tolkien uses this kind of change all the time in the languages in the Lord of the Rings. He was a philologist by training.

One comes from
From Middle English comly, cumly, cumlich, from Old English cymlīċ, cȳmlīċ (compare Old English cȳme (“fine, exquisite”), from Proto-Germanic *kūmiz (“delicate”)), from Proto-Germanic *kūmalīkaz (“pitiful, dear”). Cognate with Middle Dutch komlick, komelick, Middle High German komelīh, gomelīh.

The other from
Middle English homly, hoomly, hamely (“domestic, familiar, plain”), from Old English *hāmlīc (“of the home, domestic”), from Proto-Germanic *haimalīkaz (“of or characteristic of home”), equivalent to home +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots hamely (“familiar, personal, private”), West Frisian heimelik, Dutch heimelijk (“secret, secretive, clandestine”), German heimlich (“secret, secretive, clandestine, undercover”), Danish hemmelig (“secret”), Swedish hemlig (“secret, concealed, privy, covert”), Faroese heimligur (“homelike, homey”), Icelandic heimlegur (“homely; worldly”).

William said...

No one could dress like that single handed. I bet she had more than one maid.....The clothes are extraordinarily elaborate but they look excruciatingly uncomfortable. Her face reflects self control rather than serenity. Who could be serene or happy in such an outfit? It must have taken patience and self abnegation to spend however many hours to be fit into those contrivances.... I guess you could impress the lesser orders with your wealth and status by dressing so, but there are greater joys to be had in life. Those women with urinary tract infections must have suffered greatly on state occasions.....Nowadays, men emphasize their power and status by dressing down. If you can wear a t-shirt to the boardroom, you know you've arrived. Women still wear elaborate and uncomfortable clothes, at least to red carpet events. Maybe it has something to do with femininity rather than feminism.

Jim said...

Amazing! I just heard Paper Lace’s, The Night Chicago Died on Casey Kasem’s countdown of the Greatest Hits of 1974. Yesterday there was a lace clue on Jeopardy! I never think about lace and here it is three times in two days.

gspencer said...

From Ben Franklin's Old Mistresses Apologue (25 June 1745; when the horny Ben was about 40 years old),

"the lower Parts [of the female body] continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all [Parts] above [said lower Parts] with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement"

rehajm said...

Sounds like Ben was a two bagger...

rehajm said...

I never think about lace and here it is three times in two days.

Baader-Meinhoff

bagoh20 said...

Showing me what you do everyday just ruined what I do. I hope her wealth made up for things.
Bless her heart.

frenchy said...

Her title and appearance remind me of Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

Ralph L said...

‘Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your
apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance
of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I
would advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes
is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything
more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for
being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of
rank preserved.’

P&P

Spiros said...

If you want homely, try The Ugly Duchess (or "A Grotesque Old Woman"). This portrait of Margaret, Duchess of Tyrol, was painted by Flemish artist Quinten Massys in 1513. The subject looks like a ridiculous caricature from Mad magazine. But the painting was not satirical. Apparently Margaret was suffering from some sort of rare disease that made her exceptionally ugly.

Fernandistein said...

Look out the window with a fixed expression while preparing to topple a lamp table?

So you hacked our surveillance camera?

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernandistein said...

Baader-Meinhoff

Now I've seen that twice in one day.

mockturtle said...

Bless Benjamin Franklin! ;-) And remember one of his arguments in favor of older women was that, 'They are so grateful'.

mockturtle said...

Not only grateful but having the financial and political clout to get you a nice sincure somewhere. ;-)

Ralph L said...

a nice sincure

The ones with mercury weren't very nice. My great-uncle, a pharmacist, killed himself experimenting in 1914.

Mary Beth (the commenter) said...

This portrait of Margaret, Duchess of Tyrol, was painted by Flemish artist Quinten Massys in 1513.

How accurate is a portrait that is painted a century and a half after she died?

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

momma always said "Straighten your back,

...or you'll end up looking like a homely-faced dowager!"

dowager's hump (plural dowager's humps or dowagers' humps)

The hump-like projection seen on the back of older people caused by kyphosis of the spine, consequent to osteoporosis; especially seen in women.

" I can fix that for you" -- Dr. F

Narayanan said...

Which Was it easier :
to get woman into that dress than knight into armour?

Narayanan said...

Blogger Ralph L said...

She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.’

P&P
____&&&&++++
Also Something called sumptuary etc.
Was it still in effect at the time?

tcrosse said...

Which Was it easier :
to get woman out of that dress than knight out of armour?

Rosalyn C. said...

Not only did the painting get misattributed but I don't believe that is lace on her dress -- I think it's actually embroidery. Here's an amazing tour de force in needle work Japanese embroidery.

Iman said...

A Centuries of Inbreeding Production...

J. Farmer said...

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife

tcrosse said...

A Centuries of Inbreeding Production...

Not nearly as ungainly as the Habsburg Chin

Guildofcannonballs said...

https://gellerreport.com/2020/01/the-new-york-times-seismic-op-ed-in-support-of-president-trumps-assassination-of-terror-leader-qassim-suleimani.html/

derp derp arguing again'st interest isn't good.

Okay then.

mockturtle said...

Nothing wrong with marrying a pretty woman, Jimmy Soul notwithstanding. So long as she's at least as absorbed with you as she is with herself. I was pretty [some think I still am :-D] and made my husband very happy.

walter said...

mockturtle said...Bless Benjamin Franklin! ;-) And remember one of his arguments in favor of older women was that, 'They are so grateful'.
--
Emphasis on the plural.

Farmer,
I think you're safe...barring something drastic.

J. Farmer said...

@Guildofcannonballs:

derp derp arguing again'st interest isn't good.

Okay then.


Not sure why Ms. Geller is so shocked(!). The American media establishment is fanatically pro-war and pro-intervention.

J. Farmer said...

@walter:

Farmer,
I think you're safe...barring something drastic.


Haha. Fingers crossed.

Guildofcannonballs said...

22T Dollars of Debt and always always always counting higher higher higher.

But the oldies and my ages who haven't stopped this still wonder why young folks are disorientated? It's because we disorientated them.

To our eternal shame, unless we elect Trump and more-Trump-than-Trump folks.

walter said...

Cross legs

walter said...

Fabulously homely gal just missing a MUA

walter said...

(See Kathy Griffin before/after)

Heartless Aztec said...

She has dirty nails. They need a good scrubbing.

J. Farmer said...

@walter:

Cross legs

That just gets in the way.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Not sure why Ms. Geller is so shocked(!). The American media establishment is fanatically pro-war and pro-intervention."

One could argue you using the terms you used makes you more pro ... than them.

I am a full Stephan Cooper believer so I doubt you will gain or learn or teach anything from engaging unread simpletons such as I/me (I mean is is I if ... or me if ...) I don't know.

J. Farmer said...

One could argue you using the terms you used makes you more pro ... than them.

I am a full Stephan Cooper believer so I doubt you will gain or learn or teach anything from engaging unread simpletons such as I/me (I mean is is I if ... or me if ...) I don't know.


I'll get back to you as soon as I've run this message through my Captain Midnight Decoder Ring.

FullMoon said...

The fancy dress is stock. Artist did a couple dozen. Just adds head and arms later, to save time.

FullMoon said...

@Farmer
I'll get back to you as soon as I've run this message through my Captain Midnight Decoder Ring.

Inherited, right?

Guildofcannonballs said...

I had thought the whole time betamax3000 took me down.

But it was Cooper the whole time.

rhhardin said...

She spends a lot of time getting ready, I'd bet.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walter said...

So is the answer leaning left?

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

I'll get back to you as soon as I've run this message through my Captain Midnight Decoder Ring.

By the time I received my decoder ring in the mail the show had gone off the air. Wish I'd saved it, though. It was plastic, wasn't it? Kind of disappointing.

fleg9bo said...

I just heard Paper Lace’s, The Night Chicago Died on Casey Kasem’s countdown of the Greatest Hits of 1974. Yesterday there was a lace clue on Jeopardy!

And I just heard the Kinks' "Lacing on a summer afternon." Go figure.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

it's too bad they didnt paint in the sash.

Didnt win the beauty contest, but nailed the "Miss Cruel Neutrality" award

Le Stain du Poop said...

If I were looking at that painting as a daily ritual I guess I would be what--repeating mantralike "I'm not THAT ugly I'm not THAT ugly I'm not THAT ugly...." ????

Marc said...

She has dirty nails. They need a good scrubbing.

Was going to quibble with this by proposing a tentative argument that the painting itself hasn't been cleaned properly at any point in the recent past but then zoomed in and continued zooming until I couldn't zoom any further and am pretty sure that those nails are in fact painted as being filthy. And then I thought about 16th c personal hygiene expectations, bathing habits, etc.

Narayanan said...

Snuff bottle necklace explain dirty fingers!

Daily test for anosmia?

Nichevo said...

Not just the nails, the whole hand is dirty, but only the right hand, the left hand on the table is clean. She's just been doing something. Fussing with candles? A brazier?