Sargent’s Women, by Donna M. Lucey
Elizabeth Chanler painted by John Singer Sargent
I recently listened to this exquisite book. I chose it wanting to learn more about the life and work of this iconic American painter of the Gilded Age, and while it provided some insights into these, it was actually a much more valuable source of information on the lives of four remarkable women of the era – Elsie Palmer, Elizabeth Chanler, Lucia Fairchild and Isabella Stewart Gardner.
Elsie Palmer, Sally Fairchild and Isabella Gardner Steward painted by John Singer Sargent
They are all worth reading more about, but all the more so for me the latter, with her ardent passion for art and culture and her iconic one-of-a-kind museum. If you haven’t seen it, in letter No 40 I recommended the Netflix series This is a Robbery about what is deemed the biggest art heist in history, which took place at the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston.
I hope you enjoy both the book and the documentary series!
Peaky Blinders, Season Six
I love the Peaky Blinders and it’s no wonder to me that it’s considered one of the best series in recent years. Even if you are not into the plot and all the dramatic, violent, illegal endeavours of the characters, which undoubtedly are not very exquisite, you can watch it for the style and aesthetic alone, not to mention the sharp dialogue and brilliant choice of music.
RIP brilliant actress Helen McCrory, who played a legendary Aunt Polly on the series. The first episode of the new series is a beautiful tribute to her. Hats off!
The last series is on BBC and iPlayer every Sunday and I am very much looking forward to the next episodes!
With February being officially Fashion Month, alongside September, there has been plenty of catwalk inspiration seeding everywhere for weeks. It feels quite overwhelming and if you look at this full schedule of shows for Copenhagen, New York, London, Milan and lastly Paris (which spread into March), I realise it’s quite impossible to browse them all, as I used to do.
Between the almost 300 shows there must be at least 10,000 looks and that just baffles me. One side of me would like to see them all and pick up trends and inspiration, while the other thinks this sheer abundance of options, all the time and effort invested, is too much, not needed and not sustainable from a business or environmental point of view. And then there is also the question about creativity and originality, putting something completely new on the runway rarely happens nowadays.
Yet, I still keep Vogue Runway open in my browser and whenever I have a few minutes, I find myself clicking on one of the names that jump at me. Some watch cat videos or endless loops, I binge the latest Fashion Week collections. I have other worst sins for sure.
As soon as I read the title of this article I thought to myself I’m sold, when do we leave? Intellectual travel quite simply sounds perfect to me – the experience of travelling with the purpose of enriching one’s mind, being intentional about discovering beauty, art and culture in new places. Curated itineraries, expert guides, access to unique experiences, places and people – the best money can buy in my opinion.
The Luminarie promises enlightened travel for the deeply curious, and you just wait until my son is too old to want to go on holiday with his parents and I am off!
Bonus exquisite find (from the past) – it’s only been one month since I featured Luminary as a rare word on the letter, saying I didn’t really know what it stood for. Now I seem to see it everywhere and I am glad for the research I did then.
Anne Tomlin Flowers
A recent most exquisite Instagram find has been artist Anne Tomlin. Her bio says – flower-maker specialist. 3D silk botanical and nature studies. Occasional hatter and tutor at West Dean College and beyond. And then on her website, I read Still in awe of the intricacies of the natural world, and inspired by the couture-quality and craftsmanship associated with the great designers and makers, including Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli, Anne reinterprets the flora and fauna around her, creating exquisite objects that are part adornment, part jewellery and part sculpture; valued heirlooms for years to come.
All images via Anne Tomlin on Instagram
How beautifully put! Her creations indeed look like little treasures to be kept under a crystal dome and worn on very special occasions. Browse the gallery on her website and follow her on Instagram for exquisite flowery inspiration.
Most Expensive Photograph Ever Sold
Do you know how much was paid for the most expensive photograph ever sold? $6.5M for the above work by Peter Lik entitled Phantom. Here you can see the top ten, with the ‘cheapest’ going for almost $3.3M. Does it sound incredible to you too?
I could have stopped here with this exquisite find, by I was compelled to do a quick comparison with the most expensive NFT, which went for… wait for it… $91.8M! Admittedly, 30,000 collectors pitched together for The Merge, by Pak, but go one spot down the top ten most expensive NFTs and you find the famous Beeple Everydays, which, at £69.3M, is the most expensive NFT ever sold to one sole owner. The ‘cheapest’ NFT in the top was purchased for approximately $6M.
So next time you have a few million to spare, you know where to go to get it off your hands quickly.
Quote of the Week
Speaking of having a few million to spare and spend on art, I haven’t read this book yet, but it is now on my list. The quote below was shared in For the Interested, a newsletter for creative entrepreneurs, and it can be found on page 98 of The Psychology of Money:
When most people say they want to be a millionaire, what they might actually mean is “I’d like to spend a million dollars.”
And that is literally the opposite of being a millionaire.
It offered me an ‘aha’ moment and it helped me put into words something I’ve been thinking about for years. I don’t care to have money, I just want to spend it on experiences and things that I enjoy.
On that note, I leave you with a much-needed escapism exercise, to think of what you would spend a million dollars on today if you could.
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter.