Incredible Capacity

“Afterwards, as I have suggested, I was to discover in Miss Moonbeam an almost incredible capacity for evil.”

— Sir Henry Bashford (1880-1961) in Augustus Carp, Esq., Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man

A piece in an magazine tipped me to this one, an extraordinary (and obscure) work of fiction in the spirit of Jerome K. Jerome and P.G. Wodehouse. If you buy the newest edition, ignore the cover. Obviously neither the illustrator or the editor or the publisher actually read the book, or they would have noticed they were two centuries off.

Oh My Goodness

In the February 2009 issue of Wired magazine, on pages 50-51, there is an article about the forthcoming stop-motion animated film Coraline, and the model-making that went into it. All amazing, but Coraline’s gloves truly took my breath away. They were knitted by Althea Crome, who creates miniature gloves, socks, sweaters and more via “extreme knitting” using fine wire as her knitting needles. You can, and should, see her work at Bug Knits. She’s a miracle.

Winston Guest, Patron of the Arts

winston-guest-web2Winston Guest, trailed by Lewis Lacey, 1930 Westchester Cup

I have read much about Winston F. C. Guest (1906-1982), who in his youth led Yale’s polo team to the Intercollegiate Championship, playing, in the words of Time, “polo that was fast and sportingly rough enough for international cup matches.” Guest did become an internationalist, playing for America against England in 1930, ’36 and ’39, versus Argentina in ’28 and ’32, and against Mexico in 1941. With Meadow Brook in 1932, he even won the Argentine Open, a feat unmatched by any U.S. team before or since.

But it was not until last week that I found an image of Winston Guest barefoot in a white gown…

winston-guest-web1

“Portrait of Mrs. (Anne) Phipps and Her Grandson Winston” (1906)

… painted by no less an artist than John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). To be painted by Sargent before your first birthday constitutes a remarkable start, but Guest was just warming up.

In 1947, he married the free-spirited Lucy Cochrane at the Havana home of his friend Ernest Hemingway. Two years before, Guest’s bride (known as “CeeZee” because her infant brother could not say the word “sister”) had posed nude for Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957). The painting hung for a time over the bar in Ciro’s, a night club in the Hotel Reforma in Mexico City; the portrait was said to be horizontal, an odalisque, and probably looked something like this…

natasha-gelman-web“Natasha Gellman” by Diego Rivera (1943)

… only without the dress. When it became clear that C.Z. was to become Mrs. Guest, agents of the groom paid 15,000 pesos — about $3,000 — to the bar owner and spirited the painting away from public view.  Thus was one portrait lost but by way of consolation, Winston later commissioned  Salvador Dali (1904-1989) to paint C.Z.’s portrait, one of very few portraits ever done by the famous surrealist.

guest-daliC.Z. Guest by Salvador Dali

The brushwork continued. Winston himself was painted, in the company of a polo pony, by William Cotton (1880-1958), and when Winston and C.Z.’s daughter Cornelia (b. 1963) was five years old, she was painted by Richard Stone Reeves (1919-2005), the premier equine artist in America…

reeves-guest1Cornelia Guest on Ivanhoe (circa 1969)

…and then later by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) in a rather more modern version of her mother’s Rivera portrait.

Sargent, Rivera, Dali, Warhol… all in all, an amazingly colorful and eclectic line of artists, with subjects to match.

* * *

My thanks to the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame for the photo of Winston Guest playing in the Westchester Cup match of 1930.