Monday, July 28, 2014
I realize that I'm probably boring you with my sudden infatuation with all things MerriweatherPostian, but when life is as vexing as is ours at the moment, one does find consolation in the contemplation of beautiful things.
One of which is most definitely Mrs. Post's youngest daughter Nedenia, better known to us as the eternally gracious actress Dina Merrill (still with us as at an I'm sure lissome 90). She's seen here in an intimate portrait that hangs in her mother's opulent Hillwood dressing room. It's a startling image; one rarely sees something so directly an hommage that is, on its own modest terms (the piece is quite small, not much larger than an 8x10, and even after a good long examination I couldn't decide if it is a photograph or a drawing) so successful.
One of the points of the inspiration, Sargent's Madame X, is that that however striking the sitter may have been, she was not (with her radically retroussé nose) classically lovely. That's certainly not the case of the sometime Miss Post. In addition, someone decided that another feature of the Sargent, the lady's falling strap, was simply not appropriate for for an American heiress-turned-star.
Hanging there at Hillwood, the little portrait is one of the simplest objects to be seen (unless you count such austere little numbers as the vast solitaire emerald ring that once belonged to the Emperor Maximilian or possibly the fixtures in Mrs. Post's cosy Mamie-pink bathroom). In the context of the mistress of Hillwood's private quarters (a suite of rooms more like the set for a Norma Shearer MGM epic than any place in which I've actually set foot), it's almost surreal.
It's so lovely, in fact, that I'd almost rather have it than the emerald. Almost.