Sunday, February 15, 2009

Portraits with Backgrounds

In 1947, Russian sculptress Catherine Barjansky, wife of celebrated cellist Alexandre Barjansky, published her memoirs, Portraits with Backgrounds. Through her work, as an itinerant artist, specializing in wax modeling, she became acquainted with many of the great European figures of her day ; under her pen, their personalities come to life - portraits in words to match her portraits in wax. She writes with warmth of heart and depth of soul. 

The author and her husband were friends of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, and Mrs. Barjansky devotes several chapters of her memoirs to the Belgian royal family. Her portrayal of Albert and Elisabeth is charming, intimate, and touching; she obviously felt great admiration and affection for them. Albert Einstein, another friend of the Belgian royal family (and, in fact, of the Barjanskys) once described Albert and Elisabeth as two individuals characterized by a rare "purity and kindness." Mrs. Barjansky's description of the Belgian royal family creates the same impression of nobility and generosity. 

I will be posting on Catherine Barjansky's portrayals of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth. 

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