Patroness of the Arts


Richard Avedon
Stephanie Seymour, Model, New York City
Christie’s New York
Dec. 16, 2008

While purses are squeezed and wallets thinned in every category other than life’s essentials, it’s comforting to know that good old reliable sex or what I always believed James Joyce was describing when he mentioned “the soft sweet swoon of sin,” is still considered to be among the highest of life’s necessities. Reports indicate prostitution is up with erotica running a close second, particularly if you take into account the recent sale of the Constantiner Collection of photographs held at Christie’s New York.

Assembled by New York art patrons Leon and Michaela Constantiner, the collection focused on glamour, including photographs of high fashion models, often in states of undress, as well as a large selection of images of Marilyn Monroe and an assortment of erotic fashion shots by Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Irving Penn and Herb Ritts.

The sale of more than 300 lots was expected to achieve $7.5 million-$11 million. It sold for $7.7 million, at the low end of the estimate but a smashing success nevertheless, considering the jittery state of the art market. The total is the highest ever for a single-owner sale of photos at Christie’s. artnet

In an effort to enlighten readers on what, historically, was considered sexually arousing when it came to portraying the female anatomy in various stages of undress, this pose of Fernande photographed sometime between 1910–1917 by Jean Agélou provides a fairly good contrast. Or not. Thoughts?




~ by eaesthete on 01/06/09.

3 Responses to “Patroness of the Arts”

  1. And what timing! The final on the popular quiz program Jeopardy earlier this evening dealt with sex. Category was “Historic Structures,” and the final read as follows: “Pope Sixtus’ death in 1590 ended his plan to convert this, still in Rome today, to a wool factory to employ city prostitutes.” The answer? What was the Colosseum. The Colossuem is and was a big place. A very big place! Which goes to show that even back then: Sex sells. To the errant aesthete: What a fantastic site!

    • Interesting indeed! One can only imagine what thoughts, memories and assignations were woven into the garments of the day. The term “knitted brow” comes to mind. Thank you.

  2. Ooh la la! What’s so readily apparent to me is the provocative pose of the vamp. She’s so overtly flirtatious whereas the model seems almost reticent. In fact, I love her attitude. No embarrassment, self consciousness or enticement. Just a gesture. Honest and straight forward which is that much sexier.

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