A question of beauty

Two different bloggers have given me the Beautiful Blogger Award! Thank you very much indeed, Le Style et la Matière and It’s About Time.

This award entails posting seven things about oneself. I am fascinated by the age-old question as to what beauty actually is and how it works, so I thought I would show images of seven different kinds of beauty:

1. The beauty of imperfection. Portrait of a lady with scenes from Ovid in stumpwork, designed to cover a casket, at Fenton House, Hampstead. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

2. The beauty of possibility. Miniature portrait of an unknown child by Isaac Oliver (1556?-1617) at Ham House, Surrey. ©NTPL/John Hammond

3. Exotic beauty. The 'China' garden at Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

4. The beauty of incompleteness. Photograph of an unfinished hay rick near Kersoe, Worcestershire, by Edward Chambré Hardman, 1935. ©NT/E. Chambré Hardman Collection

5. The beauty of flux. Embleton Beach, Northumberland, with Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance. ©NTPL/Joe Cornish

6. Mysterious beauty. Detail of a door in the south front of Bateman's, East Sussex. ©NTPL/Rupert Truman

7. Aged beauty. Close-up of old machinery at the disused mine at Pool, near Redruth, Cornwall. ©NTPL/Paul Harris

To me these are all manifestations of the same elusive phenomenon, but I would be keen to hear from anyone about what these images say to you.

And finally, I have to hand the award on to up to seven other bloggers. I could certainly name seven beautiful blogs (see the links on the right), but I think we would find ourselves endlessly nominating each other, luvvies that we are. 

So I will limit myself to awarding the one particular blog that inspired me to start this one, and from which I continue to learn.  It is a blog that combines enjoyment with seriousness, breadth with depth, beauty with humour. It is, of course, Courtney Barnes’s Style Court.

19 Responses to “A question of beauty”

  1. style court Says:

    Emile —

    As I type this, a strange band of static is covering part of my computer screen and a trip to the genius bar may be in my future but somehow receiving such a kind mention from you takes a bit of the stress out of my Monday morning. I truly was surprised. Your reflections on beauty and the original images you used have certainly inspired me!


  2. littleaugury Says:

    Emile, your images of beauty are-Beautiful. I read Courtney every day-a truly unique blog that stands alone in its content, detail, and layeredness. pgt

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Courtney, it is probably because you work your computer so hard, creating all those fascinating image-collages🙂

    Gaye, thank you. And yes layeredness is the right word: Courtney doesn’t just use collages, her whole way of seeing is collage-like.

  4. littleaugury Says:

    Emile, so glad layeredness suits-I don’t think it is a proper word-but it was all I could think to describe Style Court! Now that it has the NT approval-it may appear again.pgt

  5. home before dark Says:

    Such layers of beauty in every direction.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thank you. Isn’t it interesting how blogs themselves become multi-layered, through comments, links, etc?

  7. le style et la matière Says:

    What a lovely way to interpret this award. I can relate to every one of your forms of beauty, but the image that I find the most inspiring is that you have used for incompleteness. That probably reflects on me in some awful Rorschach-like way. Ah, was this a sneaky test?! Style Court was one of the first blogs to inspire me too. You have me going back to it more often these days.

  8. Down East Dilettante Says:

    As another of It’s About Time’s nominees, I am stunned to find myself in such marvelous company, and am equally stunned by the beautiful images you have chosen. Oh dear, now the bar is very high….

  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Le Style, that you are drawn to the ‘incompleteness’ image I think just shows that your imagination wants to ‘fill the gap’, which is a positive quality (and often seen in East Asian art, of course). So you have passed the test🙂

    Down East, how nice to hear from you here. As you know, I am learning a lot from your blog about American historic houses and gardens. Yes, let’s keep trying to raise the bar🙂

  10. Janet Says:

    Beauty is by nature a wonderous and mysterious thing. The fact that we humans can find it in so many disperate places is fascinating. I quite often find beauty in words. Like those here.

  11. Janet Says:

    Words would be oh so much more beautiful if I could spell them correctly. I apologize: disparate.

  12. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Janet, your misspelling has the beauty of imperfection🙂 Yes and the interaction and overlap between words and images is fascinating too, isn’t it?

  13. petra voegtle Says:

    You brought it to the point. Funnily many people would rather find beauty in the faces and figures of today’s society and attach beauty to the well known and the rich. Finding beauty in the used and old, in the not so obvious is much more work and less superficial and therefore too stressful for the simple minds…lol

  14. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Petra, you are right, of couse. However, even in the case of celebrities I tend to think that a slight physical quirk or asymmetry makes them more attractive rather than less.

    Perhaps that is why stories about stars in trouble sell so well: we like to have a bit of imperfection to season the blandness of the ‘perfect’ celebrity🙂

  15. Hels Says:

    That miniature portrait of an unknown child by Isaac Oliver is more than just beautiful. It is exquisite. Oliver must have used a brush with two hairs in it.

  16. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Helen, according to the Dictionary of National Biography entry on Oliver, he was unusual for his time in being able to depict young children as sentient humans rather than as wooden dolls. And this portrait does capture that clear-eyed, open stare that very young children have, doesn’t it?

  17. Emily Evans Eerdmans Says:

    Emile, What an incredibly elegant way to respond to this award, and indeed the staggeringly beautiful photographs have provided a moment of meditation and illumination in an otherwise quotidian day. EEE

  18. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Emily, thank you very much, I am glad you connoisseur’s eye appreciated these slightly quirky types of beauty.

  19. Tom C Says:

    The Bateman’s photo works for me and is very much like my photo of a door in Michelham Priory here (I am Chair of the “Friends”)


    Thanks for commenting on my Kipling post. I have reciprocated by adding your blog to my blogroll.

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