Passing Fancies ~ August 2018



Reading: Marta McDowell, The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books (a gift from Mr. Professor; highly recommended!)

Audio: Went to see my longtime musical love Lloyd Cole at City Winery; now I’m playing and replaying lots of his albums in the aftermath

Art: A recent visit to the Whitney

Video: “McQueen,” the documentary film about designer Alexander McQueen

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Upcoming Class: “Travel in American Art” at the Brooklyn Brainery




Later this month I’ll be teaching a one-night art history class with the Brooklyn Brainery. I thought I’d share the details here, even though it’s not perfume-related!

The class is called “Wish You Were Here: Travel in American Art” and it will be held at the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday, August 23 at 6:30 pm. You can find more details and a registration link at the Brainery website.

Image: Christopher Grant La Farge (American, 1862-1938). Small Card Decorated with Mount Fuji and Flowers, 1880. Watercolor and metallic paints on one-ply card stock, 3 1/2 x 5 in. (8.9 x 12.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Christiana C. Burnett, 2001.47.5

For Book Lovers Day: Mary Magdalene by Piero di Cosimo


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In honor of Book Lovers Day (not that I need a particular occasion to love books!), here’s a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Piero di Cosimo (1462-1521). It’s a depiction of Mary Magdalene reading scripture, with a jar of precious perfumed oil standing at her elbow.

This painting dates to 1490-95 and is in the collections of the Palazzo Barberini in Rome.

5 Perfume Ads for International Cat Day 2018


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hoyt's 1890s.jpg

It has recently come to my attention that today is International Cat Day (or, as I like to call it, “Wednesday”). In that spirit, I offer you five images of fabulously fragrant felines!

The first one is a circa-1890s trade card for E. W. Hoyt, based in Lowell, Massachusetts. This cat and her kittens are promoting Hoyt’s German Cologne, with a side-mention of Rubifoam tooth cleanser. Note the distracting presence of the canary in the upper right corner of the scene…

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The Art of Perfume Ads: Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue


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In my looks at fragrance and advertising, I’d also like to mention a few perfume ads that take their inspiration from film as well as the more traditional visual arts.

Elizabeth Arden’s campaign for Fifth Avenue is contemporary as well as film-influenced. Fifth Avenue was released in 1996 and it’s still in production; the Arden website describes it as “a sparkling, sheer floral with subtle warmth and richness.”…

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Screen Time: “Endeavour” Follows His Nose (sorry!)


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I’ve been watching the various television series inspired by Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse mysteries since my late teens: the original BBC series starring John Thaw as Morse, then the spin-off series Inspector Lewis (about Morse’s younger assistant), and now Endeavour. This one is set in the late 1960s and offers a backstory (or origin story, if you want to think of it that way) for the mysterious Morse.

The latest episode of Endeavour to air in the United States, “Quartet” (Season 5, Ep. 5), is a tale of murder and espionage set in—where else?—Oxford, England. One of its subplots includes references to a fictional perfume brand called Fenix.

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