July 11, 2010

Haute cuisine

Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:56 am
Tags: , , , ,

Perhaps you, like I, were under the impression that Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an 18th or 19th century painter and might be surprised to learn that he died on this date in 1593.

Maybe that’s because he was rediscovered early in the twentieth century by the Surrealists, notably Salvador Dali, who found much in his work to admire.  In fact, they made his veggie portraits so popular that you’d probably have to go to Italy to find his more conventional work.

His Wikipedia entry says quaintly “Art critics debate whether these paintings were whimsical or the product of a deranged mind…”  This of course is what art critics always say about any significant art.

But this kind of quirky stuff was very popular during the Renaissance, as were puzzles and all sorts of games, and Arcimboldo was respected by his contemporaries.  Above right, ‘Spring,’ a very ppopular image;  left, ‘The Librarian,’ which rewards careful scrutiny.  It’s in Stockholm now because the Swedes stole an Arcimboldo collection from an Austrian duke during the Thirty Years War.

Also on this date, in 1863, the first names were drawn in the Civil War draft, initiating three days of riots in New York City, during which quite a few people were killed.  Ironically the Union Army had so many volunteers that ultimately only about 6% of the soldiers were draftees.

Today is Imamate Day, which celebrates the accession to the throne of Karim Khan, now the Aga Khan.  Karim is the son of one of the great playboys of the mid-20th century, Aly Khan. The media were all abuzz then about Aly’s girlfriends and fast cars and parties.

When Aly Khan married Rita Hayworth (the former Mrs. Orson Welles) in 1949 it was something on a par with Brangelina.  They divorced in 1953 and Aly Khan continued his playboy ways.

Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth

That may explain why the reigning Aga Khan skipped over both his sons and named Karim Khan to succeed him, which Karim did on this date in 1957.

Karim has kept a very low profile, at least compared to his father.  He devotes much of his time to philanthropy, lives quietly in Chantilly in the south of France.  But he also finds time to own a  very large stud farm there and another in Ireland.

The Aga Khan being weighed with diamonds.

The Aga Khan is a direct descendant of Muhammed via his daughter Fatima, and is the spiritual leader of 18 million Nizari Ismaili Muslims who live in a permanent diaspora following a failed coup attempt in Persia in the 19th century.  The Nizari are the largest branch of the Ismaili, itself a branch of the Shia sect.

What I remember best about the old Aga Khan was that he was periodically given his weight in gold by his followers and it was thus a distinct advantage that he was enormously fat.  This worked particularly well on his 50th anniversary, when he was given his weight in diamonds.  What a nice tradition.



  1. Nice tradition for who?


    Comment by GALYA TARMU — July 11, 2010 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  2. Cool Pix!! 🙂


    Comment by ninachat — July 12, 2010 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  3. p.s. her hat is amazing ❤


    Comment by ninachat — July 16, 2010 @ 11:16 am | Reply

  4. Aga Khan story fun fun fun, yeah the pic choices fab thanks again


    Comment by avery zia — July 19, 2010 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

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