Kitchen Revision

Novelist Mark Tiedemann updates his kitchen and, in the process, discovers new counter space and more functional cabinetry. Cooking with gas!


The "Egyptian Service"

In August 1799, Napoleon returned to France from an ill-fated imperial adventure in Egypt, leaving behind a demoralized force headed by Jean-Baptiste Kléber, the Revolutionary hero shortly to be assassinated in Cairo. “L’oiseau était déniché” was how the disappointed Kleber described Napoleon’s departure: The bird had flown the coop.

In France, Napoleon touted the campaign as a triumph despite the late debacles at Acre and in Aboukir Bay, where not only lives but also the expedition’s greatest prize, the Rosetta Stone, were lost. Back home in France, his propaganda touched off a wave of popular enthusiasm for all things Egyptian. This “Egyptomania” was additionally fueled by the publication of compelling eye-witness travelers’ accounts, such as the artist Vivant Denon’s illustrated Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte.

These immensely popular publications provided rich sources of imagery for fine and decorative artists. Wallpapers featuring Egyptian motifs, furniture carved with Egyptian emblems, and variations on themes from Egyptian architecture (including the 1806 peristyle of the Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris) flooded French homes and buildings.

Perhaps the strangest—certainly the most fragile—of these artifacts was the “Egyptian Service,” a 115-piece, Egyptian-themed porcelain dinner service commissioned from the Sèvres porcelain factory by Napoleon in 1804. ...

Read more at Wonders and Marvels, and enter to win a free copy of The Zodiac of Paris by leaving a note in the comments section.



"It is not the resolution of difficulty that the ideal reader we imagine for ourselves is after, but the nature of the mysterious, mysteriousness itself." -- Jonathan Baumbach, from this interview



Spent weekend here, and I do mean both physically and virtually. (My twitter updates from the conference, like everyone else's, are tagged #eloai.) Veered from over- to underwhelmed and back, sometimes in moments; now I am basically just whelmed. Apologies to visitors and twitter followers who are not so interested in this topic; normal service to resume shortly.


Seek No More

At GLA, from an interview with literary agent Ryan Fischer-Harbage:

GLA: If tomorrow was a perfect day, what would you find in the slush pile besides “good writing”? [...]

RFH: I’d like to see more academics writing about history and science for the general audience.

We aim to please.

RIP, Louise Bourgeois

She was 98. The NYT carries a faint-praise obit that pretty much reduces her to the Mother of All Art Chicks. According to the obit, she "gained fame only late in a long career" and her work "had a galvanizing effect on the work of younger artists, particularly women."

Right. She raised three kids, which might account for her "late" arrival on the art scene. Her stuff was also frequently completely mind-blowing, but let's not talk of that.

One example: Forty-three tons of steel were required for the Tate Modern's inaugural Turbine Hall installation "I Do, I Undo, I Redo." Galvanizing, indeed.